These girls can be found all over West Africa, sometimes with little children on their backs. They live on the move, and make a living by begging for money. At the corner of streets you can find their fathers and sometimes husbands, silent and with turbaned heads. The men don’t usually beg, and I doubt that people give them money. The women do however, old and young, without shame. They are multilingual, speaking Hausa, sometimes French, Arabic, and the language of the city in which they live. Most people actually give them money not because of their state but because of their language dexterity. They are not poor, nor diseased. Their conditions are even beyond just being lazy. They are conditioned by a nomadic culture into a life of hedonism. They are nomads.

This girl’s name is Aisha. She’s from Niger, the country on Nigeria’s border to the North. The other girls are her sisters, and all they do is beg for money from travellers. They do so with dignity. They are cheerful and friendly. And tough. No school. No work. Just begging, and sometimes occasional “unwanted” pregnancies. They live tough street lives and are thus exposed to much abuse.

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