Sacrificial Lambs: The Plight of Children in Illegal Mining in Zamfara State

Once upon a time in Zamfara state, illegal mining spread like wildfire. Rich people sought to exploit the land for mineral resources, and they did so by hook or crook. These illegal miners' activities were akin to a rat race, with each person scrambling to get ahead of the rest. However, the race was not only for adults, children were also enlisted to assist.

The children were treated like sacrificial lambs, given the least of the resources and tasked with the most difficult parts of the mining process. They worked under harsh conditions to glean minerals and nuggets with little or no training. The "easy come, easy go" attitude of the miners was evident in the way they remunerated the children. They gave them a pittance, barely enough to survive and paying for their education was an afterthought.

The children like a fish out of water, were suffocated by the dust, risked losing their lives, and would often end up with broken bones or other injuries. However, the worst part was the contamination of the mines and the environmental degradation, and this posed a threat to the children’s health. In addition, they were not only losing out on educational opportunities, a brighter future, and Eureka moments but they were also trapped in a cycle of poverty that was difficult to break.

The government of Zamfara had turned a blind eye to this issue, much like the bird that hides its head in the sand. The mining sector was a gold mine for those at the helm, and they paid no heed to the plight of the children. The case of the abused children in the mines was like a can of worms, for the rich who benefited from the illegal mining sought to keep the problem under wraps.

The government needed to wake up and smell the coffee, step in and safeguard these children. It was in their power to "kill two birds with one stone" by regulating the illegal mining industry and putting measures in place to protect the children. They could "dampen the fire" that enabled the rich to mistreat and exploit the children.

We hope the incoming government would sit up and take notice and start implementing policies to end the illicit mining practices, which drilled holes in the ground. They should also help to "put the genie back in the bottle" by providing education and healthcare for the children and creating an environment where they could thrive and a future "full of beans" is assured. In conclusion, "all's well that ends well," but it should not end here. It is a new day, and every action taken should be approached with the children's welfare in mind.



Muhammad Arabi Umar
Department of Languages and Cultures,
Federal University Gusau, Nigeria

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