But up north in Tamale, some mothers of twins say the spirits of their twins, rather than economic hardship, compel them to send their kids out for begging.
In the shallow drain, in front of Zenith Bank in Tamale, sit these mothers with their twins begging for alms. A few meters from this spot is another group under the traffic light opposite the Tamale main taxi rank.
They sit in the middle of the road pleading on people’s benevolence. The ages of the twins range between five months to two years. They start the day’s business at sunrise and close at sunset.
Together with their mothers, these innocent kids never miss taking their daily dose of toxic chemicals as they continuously inhale the smoke emanating from vehicular emissions.
Rahinatu Abdulai, a mother of seven month old twins tells me she is on the streets begging with her twins to appease their spirits.
She says she risks losing her twin daughters if she disobeyed the wish of their spirits.
“My twin daughters took ill for four months, so my husband consulted a soothsayer who revealed that the spirits of my twins want me to send them out for begging, else they will die, that is why I’m here”, Rahinatu narrated.
She continues, “and since we started begging they have not fallen sick again.”
Rahinatu tells this reporter the soothsayer, according to her husband, said after a year or two she and her twin daughters could stop begging on the streets.
The story of Ayisha Fuseini, the mother of three set of twins is not different.
Soaked in tears, Ayisha tells this reporter she feels ashamed seeing her mates dropping her some coins every day. She however adds “I incur the wrath of my in-laws anytime I refuse to send the twins out for begging.”
Is it really true then that spirits of these kids are compelling their mothers to send them out for begging? This is the question I posed to the Tamale Chief, Naa Mohammed Alhassan Dawuni.
“Nobody can tell me the spirits of the kids force their mothers to send them to the streets for begging”, replies Naa Dawuni, explaining, “I think the fathers of these twins are irresponsible.”
“But their mothers too don’t know where to get food to feed them that is why they send them to the streets for begging”, he added.
Naa Dawuni reveals the parents of these kids prefer sending the kids to spiritualists rather than the hospital for proper treatment whenever the kids are sick.
“These spiritualists always tell the parents lies that the kids will die if they don’t go to the streets to beg for alms”, says Naa Dawuni.
He quickly calls Asana and her twin brother Fuseini, both are 8-years-old. They live in the palace, under Naa Dawuni’s care.
“They have been living in my palace since infancy and their spirits have never asked me to send them to the streets for begging, not even once”, he tells this reporter.
“Where the kids and their mothers are is very dangerous. There are vehicles and motorbikes everywhere. We may not hear good news should a vehicle veer off the road and enter the drain where they have been sitting”, laments Naa Dawuni.
The Tamale Chief hints he will soon meet his elders on the issue and subsequently proceed to the Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive, Alhaji Haruna Abdulai Friday, to see what could be collectively done to take the twins off the streets.
“I am also appealing to child related NGOs to come to the aid of the twins”, says the worried Chief.
Efforts to reach the Tamale MCE to find out what the Assembly’s plans for these vulnerable women and their twins are, yielded no results.
The President of Concerned Citizens Association of Tamale, Alhassan Bashiru Daballi, is more concerned about the kind of socialisation process the twins are undergoing in the streets. He fears the kids will pick up certain bad habits from the streets that can affect their physical and mental development.
A research scientist, working with Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Samuel Obiri says the kids risk developing cancer related diseases for being exposed to vehicular emissions at such tender ages.
Mr Obiri who doubles as the Executive Director of Center for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA) indicated most of the chemicals from vehicular emissions are carcinogenic.
The Analytical Chemist explains hawkers along roadside are all at risk but the younger children are more vulnerable because the organs that can help detoxify the deadly chemicals emanating from vehicular emissions are now developing.
Continuous exposure to the emissions, according to him, put the kids at high risk since they are taking full dosage of those carcinogenic chemicals, which can lead to cancer of the lungs and liver.
One question I keep asking is “Do the rich couples in Tamale also give birth to twins? If they do why are their kids not begging on the streets, if indeed the spirits of twins force their parents to send the kids begging? It is obvious then that the issue is a poverty situation than a tradition.
Elsewhere, twins are adored as precious gifts from Allah (God) but it is sad to see these innocent little twins being treated with disdain.
The story of these twins exposes the weakness in our social systems as a nation.
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