At least 1 in 4 people meets a beggar on the street twice a week somewhere in an African city; Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Dodoma, Kigali, Tunis, Cape Town, Lagos, Accra, Free Town, etc. Some of those beggars look shabby and dirty, others have visible big wounds on their bodies, others (women) carry a baby on their back holding another kid’s arm on their left and a sack in their right hand. Some beggars just look good at first sight until of course they slap their pitiful story in your face asking you for extra coins, contribution on a relatives unpaid medical bills, top up on their half full transportation money, money for lunch, etc.
I don’t know about you but every time I meet a beggar it bothers me. For real. I don’t like to wake up in the morning inspired, get out of the house with enthusiasm only to meet a beggar who reminds me of how horrific the world is, an existence of pain and misery. Such encounters are demoralizing beyond expression. What we need out there is inspiration, some moments of laughter, something that reminds us that life is magical and beautiful. That is what I want to see on the streets of our cities, that’s what we want to hear all around whenever we’re walking or driving down town, inspiration!
Now, you might be thinking that I must be a heartless, ruthless, careless, selfish, love-less, greedy baboon. Well, nothing can be further from truth. You are wrong about my intentions. I actually care about those beggars I meet on the street so much so that I feel obliged to do something sustainable about their miserable demoralizing situation. I think that those beggars are really smart given how they come up with a new story for every person they meet every other 15 seconds. Not forgetting their patience and ability to act. I mean that’s real talent right there. Hats off!
What if we let them do their thing but this time demand them to follow well laid out professional guidelines and work ethic. i.e. No more sad pitiful stories. No more looking dirty and shabby. No more bringing the kids at work, leave them at home. No more following people who have already shown disinterest. No more walking around with uncovered , untreated wounds( special medical attention can be provided for them at hospitals not on the street).
Now what? What are former beggars going to become and do on the same streets? Good question. The first thing that is going to change is their job titles. Yes! They’ll be at work. Self employed but at work, on the street. What shall we call them? Professional beggars. This means that they’ll be working under systematic predetermined and agreed upon processes and guidelines. This should be made possible by a synergy between City/town administration, the police, private sector and them(the professional beggars). So far so good. We are now left with determining what Professional beggars will be doing on African cities’ streets. Guess what? Street performing.
Street performance is performance just like any other except it happens on the streets and the cool part, it is always live and open to the public. The professional beggars will each be allowed a space on the street (busy street). Then it’ll be up to the professional beggar (street performer) to do something, anything at all inspiring enough or funny enough, or cool enough or amazing enough to make people reach in their pockets and give them money. How much will depend on how moved they feel with the street performer’s act.
Here is the good part, street performance attracts tourists as well. People want to travel to cities that have buoyance and life. Exciting places with amazing things going on. That is exactly what street performance does. It gives the public a chance to enjoy random every day little concerts! Wow! This way cities become hubs for talent exhibition and random moments of happiness. Isn’t that ‘wow?!’
Find below examples of street performance:
Thank me later.
Editorial/ Yewe Yewe