Haggle (verb)-meaning to dispute/bargain persistently, especially over the cost of something.
In Nigeria, haggling is an art you are taught and expected to have mastered especially if you are female (again as preparation for the ultimate career of your life- ‘wifehood’).
While I agree that this is a good skill to have, I feel over time we should learn to reconsider what the purpose is, and how fair it is. Why should we be taught to haggle with the orphan child whose stepmom forces to hawk under the scorching sun before he gets fed? Why haggle with the woman hawking bananas with a 10 kg baby tied to her back? Why haggle with the yam seller by the roadside who shares a tiny room with 5 children and has an absentee husband? When we look at them all we see is a seller trying to cheat us. There’s more to them than that.
The aim of haggling is to conserve money..or rather create better value for money spent. So why won’t we haggle with our pastors and imams over donations? Why won’t we haggle with Shoprite that sells a tube of toothpaste for almost twice the amount it is on the streets? Why won’t we haggle at Sweet sensation or the other franchises we patronize? Their rice is twice the cost of the cafeteria’s. I know you are probably thinking that will be ridiculous! Why should it be? These are people who are rich and we eagerly make them richer…taking pictures with pride when we patronize them as proof that we were there.
So is the aim of haggling then truly to create more value for money?
Please, next time you see someone selling by the street or hawking, try to resist the call by pride to live up to the name of master haggler especially if you are quite comfortable. Do it as charity. Bargain if you must, but do not cut her profit off completely. Spare an extra minute to look at what she’s wearing, how many children are surrounding her and you might get a glimpse beneath the surface. She could have been just as pretty or smart as you. She just happened to be born/raised in a different environment. She’s probably just as hard-working and deserving but fate did it’s thing and she’s where she is.
Next time you drive up to a woman/child hustling, do not see a person trying to cheat you of your hard-earned cash. See instead, someone just trying to survive. An opportunity to help. To me, they are more deserving than a lot of people we give to. Don’t make them an object of pity…just empathize and cut them some slack.
Have a ‘less haggle’ week!!