Public alms solicitation among the Yoruba elderly in Nigeria

  • Funmi Togonu-Bickersteth Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  • E.O. Akinnawo Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  • O.S. Akinyele Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria
  • Ester Ayeni Department of Psychology, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

Abstract

This paper reports on a pilot study of 108 Yoruba elderly persons engaged in public solicitation for alms in three major towns in south-western Nigeria. Data were collected through taped in-depth interviews of the elderly subjects on or near the locations in which they were soliciting alms. The aim of the study was to understand the circumstances which led to this choice of occupation. Specifically explored were the extent of the subjects' social embeddedness in their communities, their reasons for soliciting alms, and their perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of this means of livelihood. It was found that the majority of the elderly beggars were those who for personal and health-related reasons "fell through " the informal traditional social safety net and for whom society provides no formal alternatives. These findings are used to draw attention to the increasing frailty of the extended family system in coping with the old-age demands in an increasingly urbanized and heterogeneous Nigerian society. The authors conclude that the need for formal social welfare services for poor, urban elderly persons is an imperative of equitable social development

References

Apt, N. & Katila, S. 1994. Gender and intergenerational support: the case of Ghanaian women. Southern African Journal of Gerontology, 3(2): 23-29.
Barrera, M. 1986. Distinctions between social support concepts, measures and models. American Journal of Community Psychology, 14(4): 414-445.
Butler, R.N. & Davis, K. 1987. Old, alone and poor. A plan for reducing poverty among elderly people living alone. Baltimore, Maryland: The Commonwealth Fund Commission on Elderly People Living Alone.
Chawla, S. 1996. The eradication of poverty in old age. UN Bulletin on Ageing, No.2 & 3:4-9.
Fadipe, N.A. 1970. The sociology of the Yoruba. lbadan: lbadan University Press.
Horowitz, A. 1985. Sons and daughters as caregivers to older parents: differences in role performance and consequences. The Gerontologist, 25(6): 612-617.
Ogedengbe, T. 1995. Begging as a profession. Sunday Tribune (Nigeria), 14 May,p. 8.
Peil, M. 1995. Family help for the elderly in Africa: a comparative assessment. Southern African Journal of Gerontology, 4(2): 26-32.
Togonu-Bickersteth, F. 1989. Conflicts over caregiving: a discussion of filial obligations among adult children in Nigeria. Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, 11:35-48.
Togonu-Bickersteth, F. 1997. Gender differences in expressed satisfaction with care from adult children among older rural Yoruba. Southern African Journal of Gerontology, 6(1): 3-6.
Togonu-Bickersteth, F., Akinnawo, E.O., Akinyele, S.O. & Ayeni, E.A. 1996. Social support networks and adaption in old age in south-western Nigeria. Unpublished. Ile-Ife: Obafemi Awolowo University, Department of Psychology.
United Nations. 1983. Demographic yearbook. New York: United Nations.
United Nations. 1985. The world aging situation: strategies and policies. New York: United Nations. Southern African Journal of Gerontology (1997), 6(2)
United Nations. 1991. The world ageing situation. New York: United Nations.
United Nations Development Programme. 1996. Human development report. New York: United Nations.
United States of America. Government Accounting Office. 1992. Elderly Americans: health, housing and nutrition gaps between the poor and the non-poor. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.
Ward, R.A. 1985. Informal networks and well-being in later life: a research agenda. The Gerontologist, 25: 55-61.
Weiss, R.S. 1974. The provisions of social relationships. In: Rubio, Z. (Ed.) Doing unto others. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, pp. 17-26.
Yahaya, D. 1996. Community obligations for the rehabilitation of disabled persons: an Islamic viewpoint. Paper presented at the UNDP/ILO training of CBVR personnel, Kano State, November 18-29.
Published
1997-10-01