For Boys Like Me Who Grew Up In A Slum

June 14, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

Samuel Ryo photo



John Chizoba Vincent



Dear boys


Makoko was never a better home for boys like us. Akala made us forget our skins to the burning sun. Ajegunle set the remains of our feelings on fire then it burnt into ashes. Then, Uvureke came hand in hand with scarlet letters written on its figments bodies. I may decide to spit this failed boyhood out or I may decide not to because it all depends on the choice I make. It all depends on my palms and fingers. Nature made us debris of the fragmented dust, the chained feeble souls attempting to consume what the stars built in the pocket of their nature. We are blood and spirit, water and soul, love and hatred. We are closer to death than life, although we may not know those things we clamour for are built in us because history lied to us. Let’s make these pages a little brighter, let’s bake the smile of another morning with a laughter of hyenas. If we have to make friends, let’s try to crack the foundation of the figments they are made of or these treasures will elude us into a relationship with death.


Childhood failed us, I know. We failed boyhood, you know that but the river that refuses to acknowledge its source is like a home that night refused to visit. I have you in mind clocking these fears and feelings and emotions. I have you in my heart reading the sorrow written for your sake. Of those boys who missed home, we’ll lose your agony through the eyes of elegies. Our eulogies shall sprout forth through the pocket of irony. Our freedom shall hover over the climax of the sun. You are magic, warriors, saints, braver souls that conquered the fear of Ikemefuna. Of those things that come in fragments and water, of those things that told us how imperfect we are; of those things that made us beat and run, never hesitate to listen to the sound of its heel from the figures of your body.


You are to me like the sun. Marry anywhere you find love for marriage is not an achievement. Learn to be yourself for the only driver that can drive you better is you. Learn not to spell this weekend with tears written on your face. The world has failed us treating us like bones abandoned by the roadside. But I must tell you that boyhood is not a sickness but a name that could make you or mare you. Avoid skimpy thoughtful girls. Never look through their holes or dip your fingers because heaven and hell are made there. I will be a better man if I tell you how to balance these equations that life itself created. Try to define home and its colours for through home you will find home. Every footprint is not a blueprint to follow where life has destined you to be.


Learn to burn your body with fire and smoke dripping from cold silence of your past life. We are chambers of judgment in the eyes of the world. Dear boys, anytime you see a woman carrying a body of another boy you know or you don’t know don’t look at her beautified eyes before you leave your mouth to scream. Leave your mouth and let it sing of what women have done to our forefathers in the darkness and sadness. Women remind us of Eve that dried the being in Adam’s destiny.


With songs played on the keys of lame memories, I will write a letter like this in days to come in admonishment of you and the next generation to come because voices have to be created. Times that taught us how to look back in time to search for things that draw men into slum anthems will still have its tough hand on us. Dear boys, I may decide to write terror and empathy, I may decide to write chaos and loss, I may decide to write love and lust; but put yourself closer to the left hand of God and learn those things like the sadness built in the eyes of a boy trying to be those letters that formed success.


We may not know that these acronyms are embedded in the throat of a bird searching for a better tree to rest its flight. We may leave our skin to be stranded between pages of the wind and allow it to let out a little echoing sound, yes, we may pitch our voices to trailing a girl’s skin with the echoes of her father’s last prayer on the mountain he was slaughtered but the earth, the stars, the moon are just another name for eternity.


Dear boys, there are things that leave their footprints in our hearts, through the openings in our thoughts. We once stood before the mirror and saw the reflections of our pains, some boys touched it while some could not. How we were deceived to capturing our memories hoping the moon call us home where water is a way into our tales, into our bodies, into living our dead for survival; is still a misery. Dear boys, let your love lead to every corner, to every soul, to every mouth. These things are the memories of our kind sneaking into silent places in our bone marrow, where weaver birds are the king of birds, Where everything smells of bliss and burnt history situated in places. Let this mind be with you till you join the dust in dusk.





john chizoba vincent

John Chizoba Vincent

John Chizoba Vincent is a poet, actor, Novelist and D.O.P. He is the Author Of Hard times, Good Mama and letter from Home.

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