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#WorkersDay: Professional mourners, rental relatives… 7 unconventional jobs in Nigeria

#WorkersDay: Professional mourners, rental relatives… 7 unconventional jobs in Nigeria
May 01
11:28 2022

If you have spent some time in Nigeria, irrespective of geopolitical zone, you have probably come across — or heard of — at least one paid activity that sounds outside the regular. As the world celebrates Workers’ Day today, while Nigeria’s unemployment rate is projected to rise to 33 percent in 2022, below are some unconventional jobs that provide alternative sources of income.

Professional mourners

Do your well-wishers worry over your ability to cry at the brush of a finger? You may as well make some money off it as a professional mourner. Professional criers or mourners are usually hired to add some level of energy to funerals. The pay is said to range between N3,000 and N5,000 per day, depending on what group you’re working with and how much the person who requires the service is willing to offer. So, next time you’re at a funeral and a particular group appears to cry or sigh on cue, you may not be too far from your next side hustle.

Vehicle watchers

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For places where parking is an issue, you could come across a network of vehicle watchers. Their job is to keep the parked vehicle safe, while the motorist goes about his/her business. A Lagos resident, who identified himself as David, said he pays between N500 and N1,000, depending on the bargaining power and the “mood of the watchers”.

Dancing marketers

Picture this: Blaring speakers, makeshift stage/canopy, and someone speaking into a microphone, in competition with the loud music, to explain the features of a new product. While this is on, marketers disperse into neighbouring areas displaying the product. Then there is the interesting attraction around the makeshift canopy/stage — usually, two people dancing their muscles off to music from the speakers. According to Emmanuel, a student who also does the “road show dance marketing” as he described it, the pay is around N4,000 or N4,500 per day. Explaining further, he said: “Sure, it’s really stressful, especially dancing for so long and sometimes under the hot sun, but for someone like me who likes dancing, I think of it like literally making money from my sweat”.

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Make-up examination models

This label read a little confusing, even to those involved. Although they usually don’t make it to major billboards, posters or runways, they describe themselves as models all the same. Jessica, who has done some gigs in this regard, described it thus: “You know how people do exams to graduate from a class? For those learning to be make-up artists, their exam is to find someone who can stand in as a model. So, I’m invited on the day of the test and the person training to be a beautician applies the make-up on me. Sometimes, part of the exam is to fix nails as well. Then the examiner gives his/her verdict. We get paid with airtime, sometimes with money barely enough to cover transport fare. Other times, some people promise to see you, but that’s the last you’ll hear of it. Sometimes, you do it for free if the person is a close friend.” When asked if free make-up products are sometimes part of the deal, Jessica laughed and said “Never!”

Paid praise singers

“Our work trends during political season or if there is an event featuring a popular person,” Mama Debby, as she preferred to be identified, said of professional praise singers. “We get paid with cash, food items, or other material things. We consider the pedigree of the person involved before we decide what to charge. Sometimes, we even give suggestions on what the person can do to make it more interesting, like providing branded outfits or face-caps. What’s important is having a reliable network of members who can turn up when asked to. Many of us do these jobs to get extra income.”

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‘Fake’ passengers

At a motor park, you board a vehicle which appears to already have a few passengers. However, as more passengers start to arrive, the earlier occupants begin to disappear. If this sounds familiar, welcome to the motor-park world of ‘fake’ passengers. A driver, who confirmed the practice, however, said not all the ‘fake’ passengers are paid for their services. According to him, “some get tips; we buy food for some persons; while others are fellow drivers or park attendants”.

Rental relatives

This may appear unreal but as it’s described, they are the flipside of professional mourners. As told by Uzor, who claimed to have witnessed it at a traditional wedding ceremony: “Some of the so-called friends and relatives who came with the groom were rented. They came in one of these yellow Lagos buses. It was unbelievable. I’m still not sure why the person did that though. Maybe he needed the crowd, because they were quite lively. However, it was while one of the uncles of the bride was asking some questions that one of the rented relatives got angry and spilled the beans, saying they didn’t know the guy and were paid to accompany him.” Uzor, however, said he wasn’t sure how much they were paid.

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