By: Emelife Uc, 200l MELL
Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto provides asylum to a number of kids that live in communities around the school. Kids that are of school age, but do not go to school. They are either doing menial tasks for hostelers for measly pays, or hawking sachet water, groundnuts, dates, tiger nuts, e.t.c around the University. These kids have been nicknamed Yaro boys for males and Yarinya girls for females.
Their near permanence within the University has made them ‘school mates’ with Ayaga. But it ends at that. School mates, nothing more. If anything, ‘cold’ would be the perfect word to describe their relationship. When this reporter sort to know why they would be hating on such a character like Ayaga, most of these kids especially yaro boys ascribed their animosity to some supposed ‘negative’ traits of his.
Ayaga Amidst Yaro Boys And Yarinya Girls In UDUS
|Photo Credit: Ibrahim Olarotimi
Musa hawks groundnuts. He is an out-of-school child labourer, and refers to himself as ‘Sarkin Yaro’ which directly translates to ‘King of boy.’ He likes to tell himself that all the other kids are below him and so owe him respect. When this reporter approached him for an interview, it took a lot of cajoling that spontaneously turned into enthusiasm the minute he revealed the subject matter: Ayaga. Musa calls himself Ayaga’s archenemy. He told Pen Press UDUS that his dislike for him has nothing to do with his disability. Instead, Ayaga’s unforgiving and unforgetful nature is what he hates about him.
“I and Ayaga don’t see eye to eye at all. He doesn’t forgive nor forget things. True, sometimes I look for his trouble, but why would he keep trying to avenge for days? People look for my trouble too, but I forgive, forget and move on. But not Ayaga.” Musa narrated in thick Hausa.
He added that just a day ago, they got into a fight and Ayaga used the bottom of his plate to hit his head.
“We fought yesterday even. But he used that plate of his and almost broke my head.”
Abu, a smallish boy who hawks sachet water in a cooler no different from his height, called Ayaga a bully.
“He always beats me whenever I make more money than him, that’s why at every point I try to avenge whenever he is been gangbanged.”
Abubakar, another Yaro boy who hawks dates and tiger nuts described Ayaga as troublesome and daring.
“I’ve seen Ayaga not minding his disabilities try to take on someone bigger than him. I don’t know why students like him, he is very troublesome. This one time, he threw my tray of tiger nuts (aya) to the ground and I did him nothing.”
Jamilu and his friend, who work for male students in the hostel said they have never had a meeting, but don’t like him either.
“We don’t like him, not that he has done anything to us, we simply don’t.”
But then the credibility of their claims on Ayaga’s personality may pass as far-fetched. Students of UDUS have on several occasions witnessed how these kids, especially yaro boys mock Ayaga for his walking step and speech defect.
One amongst them is how they trailed him, making sounds similar to his. “Ayaga!” They reduplicated and clapped hands to give it a beat. Some walked past him, limping the way he does, and letting drool fall off their lips.
Ayaga reacted in a way no one thought he had in him. Anger. Rage. He outbursted, hoping his blows homed in on his trouble-seeking companions, but they didn’t, the blows surrendered to ataxia and his fist unclenched. His companions got away with it, they laughed, and strolled away, leaving him to his predicament and he turned back to students, “Yaga… Yaga” he clamored.
A female student of UDUS who begged animosity, narrated the above scene to this reporter.
Ayaga – The New Jatua
Muhammadu Bello popularly known as Jatau was a legendary beggar in UDUS. Prior to his death in 2015, his fine qualities made him stand out and endeared him to all. The famous Jatau bridge was even named after him, not as a posthumous honor, but while he lived and begged.
Some of these qualities he possessed are now seemingly manifest in the character of Ayaga, that students have dared to name him the new Jatau.
Qualities such as Jatau’s generosity is evident in Esther Chukwodinaka’s testimony, of how Ayaga offered money to another beggar who at the time was begging her.
“I was inside a bus and Ayaga happened to be inside too. From no where this little beggar boy appeared, you know how they behave, they won’t let you rest till you give them money or something to eat.
I didn’t have any change on me, so I just ignored the boy. Then Ayaga did something that surprised me, he gave this little boy money, gave him this smile that every living soul will long for and then waved at him to leave. This little boy had no physical illness but Ayaga still helped. I was full of awe that day.”
Jatau’s industry is also seen in Ayaga’s daily appearance in school and persistence while begging.
“Ayaga doesn’t take no for an answer. He follows you until you give him what he is asking for, and it works for him. And maybe we should all try to be persistent like him, maybe things too will work for us.” Emelife Dominica, a 200l student of Education Chemistry relayed.
However, when this reporter sought the opinions of those who have witnessed the reign of Jatau first hand and at the same time, Ayaga, they didn’t think he was worthy to claim the title.
Abdulrahman Yahaya, a 400l student of English Language, UDUS added that even though Ayaga may be somewhat loved, he’s not gotten to the level of Jatau.
“Not really. I think he hasn’t gotten there yet.” He reiterated.