A street hawker in Lagos went viral after a lady spotted him giving out all his items to prisoners being transported in a bus. Ibere Ugochukwu’s action touched the lady who recorded him and posted on social media.
After the incident went viral, it attracted the attention of Humans of New York followed up on his story and he gave a deeper insight into what propelled him to carry our such a selfless act.
Shortly after arriving in Lagos, my guide showed me a story that was being passed around Nigerian social media. There was a woman who’d been stopped in traffic behind a crowded prison truck, and she witnessed a food vendor running alongside, shoving his food between the bars of the window– into the hands of the prisoners inside. By the time he was finished, he’d given away all his food. The man was himself in desperate circumstances. He was sleeping outdoors. But despite having hardly anything to give, he gave away all his merchandise. Amazingly, my guide Kola was able to locate the man. His name is Ibere Ugochukwu. And this is his story.
– “A few years ago I worked as an apprentice in a cosmetics shop. I was supposed to receive a payment at the end of my term. But I was warned by the other employees that the owner would find a reason not to pay me. He’d always invent reasons to fire his boys right before their payment. So I made the decision to quit. But when I told him, he dragged me to the police. He told them lies about me. He told them I’d stolen so much money. And they tortured me. They tied my hands and legs and they hung me from the ceiling.
They beat me. I went deaf from all the slaps. For ten days I was given no food. My fellow prisoners would share little bits of their meals when they were finished. But some days I saw nothing. Honestly I was about to die. And I started to pray to God. And on the tenth day, the guards decided that it would cause too much trouble to let me die. They told my employer: ‘After what we did to him, he must be innocent. Because he’d have confessed if he was guilty.” They released me into the world like a madman. And I’ve carried the memory ever since. I promised myself that if I ever found someone in a similar situation, I would help. So when I learned that prisoners pass down this road, I chose to hawk in this location. I waited until I finally saw the truck, and I pushed all my food through the bars. My fellow vendors couldn’t believe it. They asked me who would pay me for the food. I told them: ‘I didn’t do it for any man. I did it because of what God did for me.’” (Lagos, Nigeria)