June 16, 2024

Nigerian economy: Generosity of strangers stuns struggling mother

  • By Mansur Abubakar
  • BBC News, Abuja

Image caption,

Strangers have been dropping bags of food off at Shamsiyya Abubakar’s house

Shamsiyya Abubakar had begun to lose hope – Nigeria’s grave economic downturn meant she was scrambling each day to feed her family of nine.

The 32-year-old had resorted to cooking afafata – the rice grain millers normally throw away at the end of the sorting process because it is too tough.

Ms Abubakar, mother to a newborn baby, told BBC Pidgin her struggles had taken her mind to dark places.

But since the interview was published on Tuesday, strangers have been filing in and out her house with offers of food and money.

This unexpected response has “changed her life”, she said when the BBC caught up with her for a second time.

“I have never seen such huge amounts of money in my life… I am really grateful.

“I got cash from several people, while others brought bags of good rice and maize, so we have enough good food to eat now,” she added.

Her husband Haruna Abubakar also expressed delight at their change of fortune.

“On the day of the BBC video, we had nothing to eat, I struggled to get them 500 naira (£0.25; $0.32) to buy cups of rice,” he said.

“Today, I am a happy man as our lives has changed and we have enough to eat.”

Image caption,

A video of Ms Abubakar telling the BBC about her struggle sparked an outpouring of hel

Sani Isah, one of those who took supplies for the family, said Ms Abubakar’s story made him cry. Mr Isah added that he felt compelled to help with the little he had.

“I think her case is a shame to our leaders, I actually wept after watching her video. How can someone pray for death instead of wanting to live just because of food?” he asked.

“I pray that others in her type of situation will also get the help they need that will change their lives.”

On Tuesday, thousands took to the streets in a nationwide protest against the government’s handling of the economy.

The steep price of food has been a major source of frustration.

Ms Abubakar feels that thanks to the kindness of strangers, she can now look forward to the future.

She told the BBC that in order to sustain her family in the long run, she wants to start a business with some of the food she has received.

Read more about Nigeria’s cost-of-living crisis:

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