He has a beard that covers half his face. His scalp has gone completely bald in the middle. He has yellow stained teeth. His name is James (read JEMU-SEE).
James has a mega-family. He has eight children. EIGHT. Eight children, plus him and the wife…that’s TEN people to feed! And by then, the wife was pregnant with the ninth baby. The couple was in love with the fantasy of having lots of children without considering the actual reality of raising them. This family was impoverished; they lived in heartbreaking poverty.
Their children walked around in bare feet, in old clothing which had turned brown. Brown, the color of poverty. They had potbellies. Overwhelmed by the number of children they had, they assigned the raising of the younger ones to the older children. There was so little food in the house. If the children wanted more, they had to work for it or simply do without. So they stole. Except the small kids who couldn’t walk by then, all the others stole. How else would they survive, if they didn’t steal to supplement what Daddy and Mommy brought home?
James and his wife didn’t have enough to provide for their children’s rudimentary needs. James survived by working for other people, who would either pay him in cash or food which wasn’t even enough. When he was paid in cash, he would hold it with both hands, like it’s brittle or like it’s a liquid that could flow through his hands. He would grin, showing his stained teeth, that he looked like a kid again.
Their house was too small that I wondered how they would fit in and the sleeping arrangement. The house had a roofing that leaked and almost falling in. The iron sheets were rusted and so worn-out that one would think they were just old newspapers.
Poverty is a global challenge. According to Gallup World, in 2013, the 10 countries with the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty were all in sub-Saharan Africa. Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. In 2010, 414 million people were living in extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, those living on $1.25-a-day accounted for 48.5 percent of the population in that region in 2010. And approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that 239 million people (around 30 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world. In addition, the U.N. Millennium Project reported that over 40 percent of all Africans are unable to regularly obtain sufficient food.
To some, the most basic necessities such as food and water may not be available tomorrow. A simple latrine exists nowhere near one’s home. And going to bed hungry is a given.
Is there a solution?
Back to James. One afternoon, a guy was carrying fish from the market (to I don’t know where). It was during that time when bodabodas weren’t allowed on the main road. The guy passed by a policeman, and he rushed at full tilt. As he was trying to run from the policeman chasing him, he fell off the bodaboda. He hurriedly tried to pick up the fish and put them back into the basket. To his bad luck, James was passing by…and God knows the last time he had ate some fish! He grabbed one big fish and took off.
The bodaboda guy ran after him. And the policeman, who had just got there, ran after them. James carrying the fish was zipping between houses, children and chicken getting out of his way. As the guys raced in the neighborhood, the neighbors joined in…making noise all the way (Cyubububuuuu…mumufate, mumufateee!) James ran past our house, all running after him. I don’t know where they got running or if they are still running!
James stole whenever the opportunity presented itself. Everyone in the neighborhood avoided him. The neighbors claimed he had come to settle there after he was chased from where he was staying before, cause of theft. The couple had more children than they could reasonably provide for. Stealing was an option. To stay afloat.
This brings me to the question: why does any couple really need EIGHT children unless they are literally producing superheroes? They don’t. No one needs or should have that many kids. How would two people even be capable of dedicating adequate time to each of that many children in order for each one to be happy and healthy?
I believe James and his wife are still producing children en masse.