Some thirty years ago, it used to be known as “vu cumpra” in Italy. This was a hawking/begging business among the Senegalese communities in Italy.
Those on the other hand who had nothing to sell, invented a kind of car parking space renting business, where these self employed rose up early in the morning to various identified car-parks in the city to direct and find space for people looking for parking. All knew that it was an undercover “begging business” with the Senegalese communities.
Then in the early nineties, a new “business” rose among the Nigerian community which was known as “Buon Giorno” or “Fazzoletti”. As the name implies, buon giorno in Italian means Good morning and fazzoletti means handkerchief. These names were symbolic of the kind of business many of the young and old nigerians who were either without the legal permit of stay or who were out of job had adopted.
They moved from house to house like hawkers but the real business was “begging”, and though they had chosen a humble vocation, these men were respected because their had shun vices and chosen what they deemed as “virtuous”.
This went on until recently when the fazzoletti business seemed to have given way to what is now known as “shoro”, where many of these precious people boldly beg for alms infront of supermarkets and on the streets.
From what I was told, shoro means to beg. This is the new and flourishing business among many nigerians regardless of their age, gender and educational background.
In my special conversation with a very precious woman whom I met whiles she was begging infront of the Macerata train station, she was willing and proudly told me that, she would rather choose to beg than to steal.
This is what I have been hearing from many of the people who “shoro”. Many of these are refugees who are unable to work with their permit of stay and others are people who have lost their jobs and thus are unable to renew their staying permit.
My feeling of uneasiness and pain to see the seed of a rich countries like Nigeria begging on the streets of Europe could not be soothed by any and I refused to publish the story until I met with Mr. Frank O.
The Shocking Story of Mr. Frankn O.
Born in 1969, Mr.Frank Okyere is a native of kyeraa in the Brong-Ahafo region but lived and was breed in Sunyani till his depature from Ghana at the age of 19.
Mr. Okyere moved from nation to nation looking for a greener pastures. He proudly boast of having lived in almost every Arab and European country on the face of the earth.
I met with Mr.Frank on a very beautiful Thursday afternoon at the car park at one of the hospitals in the city of Macerata.
This place was referred to as the territory of some young Nigerians beggers. But when I neared Mr. Frank to ask for the whereabout of the boys, He irritantly replied that “those boys had stolen his space and that, that parking lot was his business ground”.
Well, I could not believe what I was hearing! A Ghanaian healthy man telling me that he also is in the “shoro” business!
Yes! was the reply I got.
Mr. Frank like all the others told me of how he would prefer begging to stealing.
But since he is the first Ghanaian man I am seeing begging on the streets of Italy (because begging was the business of gypsies), and since he is the first to have broken the “taboo” and the pride of Ghanaians in Italy, I respectfully desired to know who is really Mr. Frank Okyere.
Mr.Okyere arrived at Naples in 1996. He worked and lived there for just 8 months before he moved to Marche, precisely, Macerata.
“I worked at a piccolo azienda(i.e small factory), until I found a better job at Treia where I worked from 1998 to 1999”, said Mr. Okyere.
Mr.Okyere says he then moved on to work at the MBE factory, in the small town of Ome, Brescia for nine good years , (2000-2009). Then from 2010 to 2011 he left there to work with the mega SPA Medigini, until employees were downsized and he was laid off.
Mr.Frank has been unemployed since then and he proudly says that, it is this “undercover begging business” that has kept him.
Mr.Okyere said: “after I lost my job, my wife with whom I have live for all these 20 years, left me for an Italian man and managed to lure the social services to take my two children away from me.”
Asked if he ever has had any problems with the municipal police (because begging “cantonaggio” in Italy, is a crime) and about feeling shameful in begging at the hospital’s parking lot and at a place so close to his house, Mr.Okyere said: “No! of course, not! these people do not regard me as a begger because I have never asked any for a penny.” ” I am there to work for the city’s municipality for free, by directing cars into their rightful parking”. – “They all know that I have been a good worker for these past 20 years and this is why they all feel compassion and are moved to give me something for the little that I do.”
When I asked Mr.Frank if he would wish to return to Ghana, he snorted, saying : “what has Ghana got to offer me?”. “I am not ready to go home and live as a begger”! ( GHANAIANS IN ITALY)

Emmanuel Agyeman



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