Though the act of begging is an old phenomenon and known to have existed throughout history, it still remains a shameful act that is contrary to the Rwandan traditional norms. It is considered an abominable act, to be seen begging for food or money in public.
Reports indicate that Kigali City Council (KCC) authorities have stepped up campaigns to eradicate the habit of begging within the City. This is because it portrays a bad image to tourists and other foreign visitors in the country.
In Byumba town, located in Gahini Sector, Northern Province, the act of begging has gained ground and the irony is that it is not necessarily done by vulnerable people. It has become a bad habit carried out by few residents who own pieces of land, houses and married with children.
The beggars in this small town have reached a point of tracking someone, while pleading tirelessly for assistance as they beg for the lowest sums of Rwandan francs.
What irritates most residents in Byumba town is that the money collected by the beggars, is consumed through drinking Ikigage (local brew) at Karanga Chapa Bar, located near the main market.
One such notorious beggar who frequents Byumba Taxi Park is only known by the names of Raphael. He is purportedly married to two wives and resides in Kibali Cell.
He rarely takes a bath and his toes and feet have been eaten up by jiggers. As a result, he limps while walking.
This has modified his appearance to that of physical disabled person and the unsuspicious public, who sympathize with him have fallen prey to his cunningness.
Raphael’s main target for the day is to catch passengers boarding or alighting from taxis heading or inbound from Kigali. He pleads tirelessly with the passengers, while standing right at the taxi’s entrance until one or two passengers donate money to him.
After which, he puts on a wide smile as he heads to Karanga Chapa Bar to have one bottle of Ikigage local brew, after which he returns back to beg for more cash.
Gicumbi District Mayor Bonane Nyangezi has on several occasions advised low income earners like Raphael, to engage in the rearing of rabbits.
She said that, “Rabbit rearing generates quick income that enables people to buy essential commodities needed by their families.”