February 13, 2017

from the sun newspaper,nigeria

Super street beggar

Has 4 wives, 11 children

By Vincent Kalu

Begging for a living is hardly an enviable means of livelihood, but for Adamu Hassan Yauri, it is his source of blessing.  After his life seemingly ground to a halt and he found himself stranded at life’s dead-end, beggary offered him an alternative route to an honourable life. Through boom and bust these past 19 years, he has flourished, married four wives, fathered 11 children and sustained his large family on beggary proceeds.

The decision to earn a living as beggar was forced upon him by circumstances beyond his control, following an automobile accident in 1998 that led to the amputation of his right leg.

The native of Yauri Local Government Area, Kebbi State spoke with Saturday Sun at his residence in Igando, Lagos. He debunked any misconceptions about him being a polio victim.  According to him, he grew up as a normal human being without any defect and was on his way to making a success out of his life, attending school and at the same time trading in onions from his home town in the north to the southeast town of Onitsha, Anambra State. But in 1998, his life took a sudden turn.  It started first with his business partner who fractured his legs in an automobile accident.

“I went to visit him at the hospital.  On my way home, I was involved in a motorcycle accident,” he recalled. “Me and my parents spent all our savings on hospital bills, yet doctors couldn’t save my leg.  Eventually, they amputated my right leg.”

At the time, Yauri was a Senior Secondary One student.   The amputation of his limb was a double blow: “I had to drop out of school; otherwise I never planned to stop my education at that level.  The accident also crashed the onion business I was doing to sponsor my education.”

The hard knock of  life soon set in.  To spare him the misery of a wretched life, one of his brothers sold him the idea of moving south to Lagos where begging was a lucrative way of life.

“I followed my brother to Lagos in 1999, and as he told me, I found that begging was lucrative.  People took pity on me because of my condition, and in no time, I was making money, enough to start planning to get married.”

Marriage to four wives

He started this family by marrying one wife.  After some time, he married a second, then a third, and finally a fourth wife.  One of his spouses died, and he has lost two children too.  Aside from these tragedies, Yauri is a happy man, a proud father of nine children, six of them including a set of twins by his first wife.

“I’m the one taking care of them,” he said with pride, “and God is the one taking care of all of us. We may not have money to eat the best of food, but we always make do with the little we have and we are always happy.”

How come a disabled beggar was able to marry four women? Yauri avowed it was easy for the women to fall in love and subsequently marry him.  “It was from this occupation that I married these women,” he boasted.  Of his three wives, the first is from Kwara State, the second from Kano, while the third is a Nigerien.  He is emphatic he and each of the women started as lovers.  He explained his love life with the story of his first wife, Shafatu, from Ilorin, Kwara State, whom he first knew as a secondary school student assisting her beverage seller -mother at Ikotun market.

“All my women loved me dearly and accepted my proposal. Our initial problem was their families’ objections, but my ladies said it must be me or never. Don’t you see the work of God? I paid the bride price and performed the necessary marriage rites for all of them; I didn’t get any of them free, neither did I elope with any of them,” he said.

His women not only accepted him for what he is, they took him for better or for worse, including his means of livelihood.  And after marriage, they joined him in his daily routine of begging to make ends meet. Indeed, begging has become the family’s profession so much so some of the younger children, who are not yet in school, loiter around their mothers where they beg.

Satisfying his women

Don’t ask Yauri how he satisfies three women sexually.  He would respond with a chuckle, followed by a jovial question: “Is the number of children, both living and dead, not evidence of my virility?”

For him, his disability neither extends to his libido nor affects his ability to impregnate his wives.  He will tell you his wives have no cause to complain––though he is quick to add: “I cannot kill myself, I am not a machine.”

He basked in his good fortune of being so blessed with offspring despite his disability and poverty.  Instead of complaining, he counts his blessings.  “There abound many able bodied men who are still unmarried till date, and there are several rich men that have spent so much money seeking medical help to have children and yet do not have any.  I am not gloating over their misfortune, but rather citing this as an example of God’s love for me, a poor, ordinary, disabled beggar.”

God’s love for him extends to his wives’ ease during childbirth. “I believe these blessings are God’s way to compensate me for my disability,” he reflected. “If my wives were to deliver through Caesarean Section, where would I get the money from?”

To increase his number of children or to not increase––the question, Yauri said, is for God. “If God gives me more children, I will take them, especially, as one wife has two children, while the other is left with one after the death of her second child, and these two women may want to have more children like the first wife who has six,” he clarified.

Pains of polygamy

To ask him how he is enjoying  polygamy, is to prompt a lamentation. His woes are best summarised in his statement that “it is hellish keeping three women under one roof.”

To avoid trouble, he tried to be equitable to all three women in the all-important, but sensitive aspect of conjugal responsibility.

To this end, he came up with a ‘sleeping formula’: “To each woman, I give two days in a week to sleep with her.  Two days for each woman, and one day of rest for me.”

He found out it was not enough to stave off trouble permanently.

“I did everything possible for all of them to live together in harmony, but trouble and quarrels always erupted,” he lamented but curiously, blaming the trouble on the Lagos environment.

His theory: “It was hellish keeping three wives together, especially in Lagos, where everybody is crazy.  Bring a naïve person to this city, by the time she arrives, Lagos would open her eyes.  If we were living in the village where our relatives are around us, they (his wives) can’t be a problem to me, even if they were four, because they would be punished for disobeying me. But this is Lagos, where everybody’s brain is something else. In the village, your brain is normal. But immediately you arrive in Lagos, it is either other people scatter your brain or you scatter it by yourself.”

He had resigned to a life of permanent querulous matrimony with the women. “Usually, two ganged-up against one; if I did anything, one would accuse me of favouring the other, and they would start quarreling with me. It was a difficult situation.”

His wives’ endless bickering ultimately drove him to keep them in separate apartments and locations, an arrangement they initially rejected until he was able to convince them of a constant conjugal visit.  “I live with one here in Igando, I rented a house for one at Okoko, and the other at Isheri,” he said, declaring “It is now that I have peace.  Before, it was so much trouble.”

Finding a way out of begging

While trying his best to meet his responsibility as the breadwinner, Yauri admitted that his large family now constitutes a problem.  As his children grow older, proceeds from begging shrink, and become insufficient to sustain the family.  The hard reality had forced him to seek other options to begging for a living.

His first alternative was to join the battalion of tricycle operators who make healthy wages conveying commuters over short distance.  Unfortunately, his tricycle was stolen by thieves. Occasionally, his friends who have other things to do borrow him their tricycles.  When such opportunity is not forthcoming, he goes a begging to make his usual paltry proceeds.

After trying his hands on the tricycle business, Yauri became somewhat ashamed of begging. Now in his 40s, he is eager to learn a vocation that would help sustain his family.

He would welcome any help, from government or individuals, towards training his children––though he insisted an explicit agreement would be made in this regards so he would not be disadvantaged by such benevolence.

Within the limit of his ability, he is ready to go any mile for the sake of a better future for his children.


May 30, 2008


Afrowrite’s Weblog
A site for discussing life, writing and publishing in africa
Little Known Facts About African Polygamy (And Why Women Promote It)
May 24, 2008 by afrowrite
By Muli wa Kyendo

Today’s post is in reply to Sister Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade who, through an email, told me that she and her friends are promoting polygamy and the greatness of the black race. My dear sister, I read most of your blogs and I must say I am impressed by your enthusiasm, hard work and sacrifice. Although you are an American, in deed you live in the USA, you said you have lived in Nigeria for many years and raised your children there so they could learn the Yuroba language and culture. So I don’t need to bore you with the general details of our life in the East of our Great Continent. But I can assure you, we are a happy lot – happy because our lives are full of “cultural” drama, contradictions, ups and downs, ebbs and flows. As one man said, we take three steps forward and two back, but we are happily moving forward – slowly.


Like in the case of polygamy. Several years ago, my friend and writer David G. Maillu, published a book titled Our Kind of Polygamy to defend this age-old practice. He puts essentially the same arguments as you put – too many women chasing too few men, the right for all women to be married, the right of children to have legitimate fathers and so on. He even adds a manual for polygamous men on how to manage their wives. But I haven’t seen many men (or women) reading or referring to the book here in Kenya. My guess for this is that for us here, we are living that life. Almost every Kenyan lives in a polygamous home, grabbling with its realities – sometimes amusing, sometimes disappointing, and sometimes even grim. So we rarely have time left to think about it!

Let me tell you about our situation – the Kenyan situation. Because in Kenya we have many communities – call them tribes, if you like – Kenyans are always on the look out for a “neutral community” to produce a President. Many are convinced that a community called the Akamba – the fourth largest – would produce a good President. So gentle and “nice” are their men!

In Kenya’s disputed General Elections of December last year, a Mukamba – it means a person belonging to the Akamba community – was, among the Presidential candidates. In my view, he was the least credible. But Kenyans were willing to vote for him. And he would have been the President today if he hadn’t hopelessly bungled up his campaign. Why are the men so hopeless? Because of their women – at least, that it what research facts indicate.

Women propaganda, sticks and carrots

The Akamba men were socialized to worship physical power – fighting, cattle raiding, and so on. The women maintained a closely guarded culture of oppression in which men were excluded from all intellectual activities. The men’s only tasks were to raid cattle and guard the community. When they were not doing that, they were allowed to spend their time drinking beer or socializing. They were excluded from all creative activities where thought and tact would have been necessary. In deed, even in worshipping Mulungu, the Akamba God, the men were excluded. The women had, and still have, their own well organized religion called Kathambi. Their goddess, Kathambi, is the goddess of rain and fertility. The women associated rain and fertility with womanhood. And since men don’t give birth or menstruate, they were deemed incapable of communicating with Mulungu.

Kathambi women congregations

Kathambi is worshipped with Kilumi, a highly rhythmical dance with heavy drumming and which is today regarded the epitome of Akamba dances. It is danced for Presidents and eminent guests at almost all national days in Kenya. When danced during the women worships, the dance sends participants “into other worlds”. And only the women know how to bring those affected back to earth. The result is that many men are awed and fearful of the dance.

The congregation of Kathambi worshipping women is called Ngolano in Kikamba – that is their language – and the congregation is led by woman priestesses (those who have stopped menstruating and giving birth) in shrines called mathembo, composed of thick forests or huge trees.

The women’s system of prayer was – and still is – so elaborate it scared the White missionaries when they arrived in the country.

The Woman of Nzaui

The missionaries immediately “black listed” this women religion. It was their biggest challenge in their recruitment of the Akamba into Christianity. And the women recognized the Whiteman as their new and big enemy. The men were caught in between hate for the Whiteman and hate for the women, even as the fierce battle spread.

The first missionary had been so anxious to set up church in Ukambani – the area where the Akamba live – that he returned to America, put together an organisation he called African Inland Mission (today it’s called the African Inland Church) and return to Kenya armed with cash for the construction of a church. But the women wouldn’t let him construct a church; allowing him eventually to put a church only on a rock (the Church stands at a place called Nzaui even today).

The women, through their great intellectual power – influential poetry and song and sometimes direct confrontation (many of the priestesses were deported to island of Mombasa by the settler Government), continued their anti-colonial campaign, forcing the Whiteman to quit the mainland Ukambani, including Machakos, the town he had planned for the capital city of Kenya, and to move to Nairobi on the periphery.

The earliest Kenyan human rights campaigner

Just to give you a feel for the battle – there was a woman priestess named Syotuna. One day, she came upon a group of young Akamba men carrying a White District Commissioner on a stretcher. There were no roads in most parts of the country yet and stretchers with four hefty young men for bearers were the common mode of travel for European settlers, colonial government officials and White missionaries. Syotuna was so exasperated that she shouted at the young men, “Aren’t you ashamed to carry a man like yourselves!” And to the DC she shouted, “Why can’t you walk? Have you no legs?” The ashamed young men quickly dropped the stretcher and fled into the bushes, leaving the DC stranded.

These words are recorded by the DC who proceeded to deport Syotuna to Mombasa.

Did Women Invent Polygamy?

The Akamba men derided the women with derogatory remarks. The women tried to appease them by making them feel like great kings in their families. The women got men other women to marry for second, third, fourth or just many wives as the first wife wanted. But all these wives had loyalty to first wife, the woman who brought them into the family. Polygamy was therefore a way of women enhancing their power and control over men. (Compare that with the so-called patriarchs of the Old Testament. Women brought their husbands other women for wives and the men accepted without complaint or appreciation).

The result of this arrangement is that the community produces “nice” men, but who are totally unequipped for modern leadership. Generally they lack depth in thought and they are devoid of strategy and tactics, necessary for modern competitive world. My play, The Woman of Nzaui, discusses this issue.

Syokimau Cultural Centre

By the way, we have a not-for-profit membership cultural centre, the Syokimau Cultural Centre, where we are encouraged in promoting research and use of African culture in writing and in government development programmes. It’s named after the most ancient and the greatest of these priestesses (talk of oppression!). It is recognized by UNESCO and the Kenya Government. It will soon launch an e-newsletter to promote its work and to reach our members abroad.

Please let us know whether this has been of any use to you and your group. And let’s increase the debate even we encourage the preservation of the African culture.

Tags: African Polygamy, Akamba, Kenya, polygamy, Worship, Yuroba
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