Monday, August 10, 2009

A new kind of begging in Ghana - using the New Testament Bible

There's a new form of begging on our streets. Check the airport junction, the intersection connecting Walfred Services to airport roundabout (close to the Airport Shell shop) or the intersection connecting the 37 tro-tro station with El-wak stadium...and you'll find our young ones distributing the Gideon's new testament bibles-the same ones we used to have in sunday school (shown in photo above). These kids encourage you to take a "free" bible., which they hand to you. But once you accept it, they then follow up with a request for something small : kyɛ me biribi ntɔ nsuo ɛnom (tr: dash me something small to buy water). And since you've just received a "free" bible, you feel obligated to give them 20 p, or any small change you have on you.

I always decline their offer. I feel like these kids are trying to pull a fast one by "selling" me a bible which should be free. Or they're begging for money, but they're trying to disguise it by giving me the bible before asking me for money. Or they're consciously manipulating people to give to them, using the bible as a tool to soften people's hearts...Or they want to be paid for distributing the free bibles, so what they're really asking is for you to reward them for their labor. In which case, I would ask, why not just sell plantain chips, or phone credits, or pure water so I know you're trading? Why the mind if you're begging o, not begging o...just give it to me straight.

What are they really up to? Maybe I should ask them. I just may, the next time I see them. Or maybe i should just take the bible, give them the money, and see it as an opportunity to give back as contagious accra suggests. Be the bigger person.

It's still annoying to think that they think they're outsmarting someone with their sly moves. Arrrrgh!

What to do?


  1. Esi, don't let the 'principle behind it' ruin your day. If you have a few coins just give it without taking the bible(i.e, if you don't want the bible). If you don't have any just don't. I even give money to kids that are actually selling. So giving to these kids pretending not to sell shouldn't be any different. Most of the time they are rather embarrassed to beg thats why they do this.

  2. So where do they get these free Bibles? I do appreciate their creativeness in doing this.

  3. hehe...good question, Footloose. Wish i knew. And about creativity, maybe they should be in advertising.

    @Kwegyirba, yeah, i shd just do as u say.If they're embarassed to beg,then we're getting somewhere because there are grown able-bodied men walking the streets of Accra who beg.

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  5. Apparently you have just recently seen this kind of "begging". It's not new. It has been going on at Kaneshie First Light, for example, for years. Perhaps it has just recently found its way to routes that you use.
    I sincerely feel sorry about what these children have to do to earn some money and think the problem must be nipped in the bud.
    I do not accept these bibles for a number of reasons. For one thing, I do not need a King James Version of the New Testament and Psalms when I have a variety of versions of the entire bible.
    Also, I believe that if I frown on the concept of children peddling gum and candy on the streets, then I should disapprove of this as well. I do not see how the "product" should suddenly make it okay. I have a feeling someone is just exploiting the children and if we all accepted that there was something wrong with children giving/selling/begging in any form on the streets, then it might put a stop to the activity.
    Also, accepting gifts from the "unknown" is just something that I wasn't brought up to do and so I may give something but definitely not collect the item.

  6. Yeah, I think one kid tried to sell me one of those bibles! Funny thing is, I had one that I had actually bought from walmart in my purse. I promptly pulled that piece out!

  7. there are many different types of begging in our dear country. What about those who preach in lorries and after that pass their rubber bags round or go round themselves collecting the money, making you think that if you don't give then you are the devil's incarnate. I don' hypocrisy here. Let me be!

  8. @Nana Fredua-Agyeman. I've actually written about the men preaching in lorries right on this blog. See here:

    @Anonymous, you bought one of those small bibles at walmart?

  9. lol... I wish they'd just give it to you without expecting anything in return. I dislike it when people use the Bible in ways like that... I guess it's the thought behind that matters though

  10. The actions of those young people is simple manipulation, Esi.
    You should never give out of necessity or obligation. You should give simply because you want to give.
    I would tell such a person that I will give another time.

  11. simple,
    spare some time... it's only a small volume of text.

    so take the new testament, ask giver (or beggar?) to wait while you read through Mathew Mark Luke and John...and so on!

    finish the Testament and return it to the beggar! with 'sincere' thanks for the 'great' opportunity to finish the 'word' or part of the word in record time.


  12. I guess all of you are dada b's and never had to write to correspondence bible schools when u were in elementary school. Those bibles are distributed by The Gideons or other missionary organisations to help 'spread the word of God in poor countries ..hmm. They are given to them when they complete the courses, or when they write a sob story about how the 'heathern people' in their neighbourhoods need salvation. They are free but you can donate something towards the missionary work. Just as is done by the Jehovah Witnesses with their Watchtower.

  13. Robert Cialdini has a similar example in his book "Influence: The art of persuation". I think in that case it is Hare Krishnas at airports giving out free flowers and then while insiting that the recepient is under no obligation to pay for the gift, proceed to ask for a donation. In most cases, people give (because they DO feel beholden) and then trash the flowers later. Knowing this, the Hare Krishnas also have someone rescuing these flowers from the trash bins and recycling them!

    This is definitely a sales technique and I was incensed when one little boy tried it on me at the airport junction. I agree with rabs that we should discourage the presence of little kids on the streets. Whether they are begging, trading or participating in a smart combination of both!

    Adwoa Perbi

  14. Was the first odd thing I noticed when I got back to GH, at the same airport junction. I smelt a rat and declined the offer. I later asked the driver who confirmed they'd later beg after one accepts the Bible.

    It's plain wrong.

  15. i would be happy if you guys forget about the bible and get them money