Black marketing and begging could be described as two lucrative businesses in the Kumasi metropolis, attracting all classes of people.
While black marketing mainly flourishes at Alabar and parts of Ashtown in Kumasi, begging is concentrated at the A-Life and Amakom traffic lights, and also at the Alabar railway line.
Black marketing is an illegal form of trade in which foreign money, or goods that are difficult to obtain, are bought and sold.
One common feature about black marketing and begging is that those who indulge in them defy any public holiday and weekends and therefore operate on each day of the week, thus preventing their clients to have any breathing space.
Another common phenomenon about the two businesses is that no matter the weather conditions those involved are ready to be at vantage points to attract the attention of their clients to do brisk business.
Sadly enough, none of them make any meaningful contribution to the internal generation of funds in the form of taxation to accelerate the pace of socio-economic development in the country.
Those engaged in these activities have attracted national attention on countless occasions, and city authorities have tried various methods to discourage their practices but all their efforts have yielded no results.
A few years ago in Accra for example, beggars who were considered a nuisance to society were rounded up and sent to Kokrobite because of an international conference that was to be hosted in Accra, but a few days later, the beggars were back on the streets doing brisk business as usual.
Similar attempts had been made in Kumasi to rid the city of beggars and reduce the nuisance they cause to society, but all such attempts have yielded no dividends.
This is because both black marketing and begging have been fully been embraced by society.
Black marketing as a business enterprise was one major issue that made our Saviour Jesus Christ angry for the first time in his life, and nearly caused social upheaval at a temple in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago.
This was when Jesus Christ defied all protocols and took hold of a rod to whip those changing money in His Father's house, and pushed tables down to drive away those who had turned the temple into a market place.
In Mark 12: 15 it was recorded that “And they came to Jerusalem and Jesus went into the temple and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves”.
The above quotation is a testimony to the fact that, black marketing had thrived over the years, and because it had always been considered as a lucrative business, their operatives have resisted attempts by those who try to stop them from the trade.
This could also be the main reason that had attracted a lot of youth into its operation by sitting at the roadside, almost all day long to do brisk business. Just like black marketing, begging have also been an ancient profession, so its practice in the metropolis is not by accident.
It was also the profession that brought out the best of Peter in his quest to be the successor of Jesus Christ a few months after he resurrected from death and ascended into Heaven.
In acts Chapter 3 verses 1- 9, it was stated that when Peter and John went into the temple to pray, “a certain man lame from his mother's womb, was carried and laid daily at the gate of the temple which was called Beautiful to ask for alms of them that entered into the temple, ......” “ ......Then Peter said, silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give I to thee; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately, his feet and ankle bones received strength and he, leaping up stood and walked and entered the temple, walking and leaping and praising God”.
To say that both black marketing and begging have now become a social nuisance in the Kumasi metropolis is an under statement.
Perhaps the businesses are flourishing because the authorities have never sat down to consider the fact that those indulging in them are professionals who are making much profit, and nothing can stop them from practicing them.
Many youths are now engaged in black marketing than the older generation and they have adopted all manner of tricks to attract clients.
While some of them hiss at motorists and pedestrians who come their way, others clap and raise their hands to signify to prospective clients that they have sufficient local and foreign currencies ready to change.
At Alabar and parts of Ashtown, all forms of foreign currency are bought and sold. Because the place is already choked with people and commodities, any little distraction easily leads to accident and when an accident occurs through no fault of the driver those around are sure to lynch the driver, if he is not fortunate.
A few days ago, a disaster nearly struck at the railway line when one of the beggars was in the process of begging for alms as usual.
In his frantic effort to collect money from a driver in a C-Class Mercedes Benz saloon car, the beggar who was about 25 years of age, paid little attention to a speeding train.
The timely intervention of a pedestrian saved him from being crushed by the train.
At the A-Life and Amakom traffic lights, and also at the Alabar railway line, almost all categories of beggars and their aids add up to other business operatives, making the place more congested than any part of the Kumasi metropolis.
The beggars at the A-Life and Amakom traffic lights are even more aggressive than the one who fixed his eyes on Peter and John at the gate of the Beautiful temple 2006 years ago.
They do not only defy all odds and poke their hands into vehicles trapped in traffic, but also demand the amount of money they need. One of them always ask drivers to offer him ¢20,000.00 “to enable me have a decent meal of my choice”.
While some drivers are eager to part with what they have to this particular beggar to appease him for fear of being attacked, others ignore him and focus on the journey ahead.
Gone are the days when we were told that beggars have no choice. For those in the Kumasi metropolis, they have a choice of demanding the amount of money they want from their prospective clients.
One notable thing about beggars, especially the females among them is that, they seem to have no respect for family planning and give birth almost every year.
Commenting on the activities of both begging and black marketers, Mr Kofi Abebrese, a resident in the metropolis said the time had come for non-governmental organizations to organize workshops and seminars for beggars to enable them to appreciate the need to learn a trade and a also practice family planning.
He said by practicing family planning more effectively, they would bring forth children they could adequately cater for.
He said without this their children were also likely to join them on the streets to either beg for alms or become deviants in society, such as armed robbers, drug peddlers and addicts.
He said it was equally important for the city authorities to identify those who indulge in black marketing in the Kumasi metropolis offer them licenses to operate their businesses in order to collect taxes from them.
This, he said, would enable the state benefit from their activities instead of the present state where any revenue they generate go to enrich themselves at the expense of sustainable national development.