By Kebba S. Juwara
During our childhood days in the village of Sanjal Kani Kunda Suba, we would sometimes go to the outskirts of the village to look for mangoes. This is where the best mangoes are. The ones in the compounds barely get ripe before being plugged. After plugging enough mangoes, I remember personally dedicating a mango for each one in the family. The best is mostly for my mother or grandpa who I always love to amaze and impress.
Getting the mangoes out there is not the problem but keeping them all with you until you get home is the battle of Kirina. You must be ready for the mango beggars on the way. If you want to be kind, you may get home with nothing. So, we always device our plans. We put the mangoes in our shirts and put some stones there. We tell each other; “If anyone begs for a mango, tell the person “it is stones we have and pull out one stone and show him”. I fondly remember making this plan many times even though I cannot remember if it ever worked. But can you blame us? We were kids trying to protect our harvest from an approaching bush fire.
Another strategy was to tell every beggar that we are sent. By these, we could bypass the mango pirates and safely get them home. It is not that we were not generous. In fact, we had taboos about bad things happening to people who are wicked with food and water. However, giving out mango in these instances will leave you with nothing for yourself and those you planned to cater for.
After many years and of course hundreds of miles away from where we refused to be generous with mangoes, we find ourselves in a different yet similar situation. It is like, the world stylishly rotates and brings back past things in different packages.
Have you ever been trapped within the indecision of maintaining your generous nature and letting it go for fear of getting haunted by your generosity? Strange right? Well, generosity nowadays has come to be a bearer of more bitter fruits than wickedness. How long does it take to hear that a man has lost all his money to a beggar he offered charity? This is a common occurrence today especially in the Kombos. Generous people are kind at their own risk. The paranoia in giving alms to strangers is real.
There are people with evil spiritual means of getting people to give them their hard-earned money just after giving them charity out of their good nature and pity on these monsters in the persons of the needy.
Their bait is normally the first amount you give them or a handshake. Thereafter, they get you hooked unto whatever they please. The victim becomes unconscious and involuntarily does whatever he or she is commanded.
Somewhere in the last months of 2022, a woman got robbed by one of these spiritually armed thieves at Westfield. She was ambushed in the premises of a bank. She had just withdrawn money and as she walked out of the bank, this old man approached her and sought support to buy food for the day. She generously gave him a fifty dalasi note. That was the last time she remembered her consciousness until after several minutes. This spiritual thief made her give him the money she had just withdrawn and made her withdraw more money from her account through her ATM card and give the money to him. She did this until the machine retained her card. She went into the bank to reclaim her card and when she came out, the man was nowhere to be found. It was there and then she came back to her senses when the man was far gone.
This and many similar cases have been occurring and have forced a lot of kind people to hold back their kindness. A generous gesture that turns out to be a calamity kills the generosity of the generous.
One rotten potato, they say, spoils the whole bag. Thus, on a personal level, I have ceased to give charity to anyone who stretches his or her hand to me. If on any case I wish to give charity, I choose the one that does not see me coming or at least those sitting by.
We live in strange times!