I had been noticing it much too often for a while, and so when I saw another blind man, I asked the business man from whom I was making a purchase, “Am I the one who is seeing too many blind people or is it a fact that there is an influx of blind beggars in town?” The business man straightened and walked towards me from the back of his shop as he said, “You are right that there is a sudden increase in the number of blind beggars in the streets.”
If you live in Nairobi, you must have noticed the blind beggars being dragged by hand from place to place by young school going children. The beggars usually have a small plastic container with a few coins that they juggle periodically in order to attract the attention of any sympathetic well wisher. Perhaps you might even have been bothered by the fact that the young children seem to be wasting their school going days after being forced to accompany their ageing relatives on begging missions from street to street, inside businesses, and from drivers stuck in traffic jams.
As he smiled, he added, “Begging has become a business just like this one I run.” And as he laid down the merchandise I had requested on the counter he continued, “Don’t be fooled into thinking that the children are relatives of the beggars. The are usually hired for the day to accompany the baggars.” And on seeing the bewildered look on my face he added, “There is a place where the beggars pick the children every morning for a standard fee, and so you see, both that boy and that blind old guy are in business.” He finished as he made a gesture with his lips towards the duo that was disappearing down the corner. With that, I made my purchase and walked in the direction opposite the one that the blind beggar and the boy had walked. Without a doubt, I knew I would be seeing many others in the course of the day. In Kenya if it is not business as usual, then it is business as unusual.