Having grown up in August Town, in a place called Angola; ‘Gola’ for short, with adjoining areas of the community called “Jungle twelve,” and “Vietnam,” depicting war zones and perpetual fear, I saw both children and adults seemingly experiencing PSTD and being traumatized and re-traumatized, often on a daily basis.
Boys who grew up together, ate at their families’ homes and have children with each other’s sisters, end up in rival gangs, and kill each other in the name of politricks. Those politrickshams leave the boys to their own devices after they become dispensable usually after their administration won another election in which voters’ apathy is clearly evident, but does nothing to stop an administration from taking over the helm of the gravy train, as they rape my beloved country.
There are unwilling girls who have been sent for by the “dadds” whose mothers have to make the choice to either leave the area, or lose their daughters to either death, or the beds of men whose forefathers also demanded that they too occupy their beds; with other young girls, who would also eventually become baby mothers; willingly or unwillingly.
The judgement from those outside is unsolicited and unwarranted, as until you live the reality where your choices include either leaving the only place you have ever lived, with nowhere else to go, with “men” they have seen with their very own eyes, kill others who have said no to them, or their houses get burnt to the ground, then there is NO way for you to comprehend THAT level of fear and hopelessness. They live in CONSTANT fear of losing their lives. Not every “ghetto” girl wanted to have a child as a teenager, or 6 children by the time she is 26, or 8 children with eight different last names.
Some youths are even forced by older, more seasoned gunmen to start hiding, holding, then using the guns; crushing ends and bleaching at nights to “watch” from people’s house tops, and under bridges and behind zinc fences, because they too either have to “endz out” or get taken out by the guns they refuse to hide, hold or use. But then again, for some, it’s like LOB — legacy of badness — passed down to them from their grandfather, then their fathers, then to them and then another generation after them as well.
On top of that, there are those who get the power they feel in no other part of their existence, while standing with the weight of a gun in their hands, or “heavying” dung their waists; since everything else around them, inside them, happening to them, with them and because of them before they took that decision to turn a ‘shotter,’ left them feeling as if they are the filth on other people’s shoes; something to be flicked off with a piece of stick and flushed down a toilet.
You may think the foregoing is making excuses for heartless killers; some who are barely out of diapers, but the truth is that when you sit and have a conversation with some of these hardened criminals, you come to realise the ABSOLUTE truth that hurt people. I KNOW the REAL “ghetto” story because, albeit I escaped the truth of it unscathed with respect to not being a “dadds” baby mother, or the baby mother of SEVERAL dadds, or the sister or daughter of a “shotter,” I witnessed others going through it. But for the grace of God, and due to the kind of parents I had; especially a father who, although gun-toting thugs tried to intimidate him and sent death threats to him, he refused to be intimidated. So NO one DARED to say, to Mar Facey’s daughters, more than a FEW “walking words,” — as in talking while they are still walking far away.
But as much as we were shielded from that, what our parents couldn’t shield us from were those gunshots; the ones we KNEW when they connected with the body of a human being, and the ones that did not, but to a child, were nevertheless SCARY.
The spent shells you would walk over in your own yard, and down the lane where you had to walk past the dead bodies with the yellow police tape to add to your scary existence, remain in your head, even decades after you had to live through that over and over again; sometimes daily.
Who wins? Who wins when little boys who grew up sharing food from the same plate and pots, who used to “run “boat”, whose mothers were friends, and who slept in the same beds at each other’s houses sometimes, went to the same churches and schools, who grew up to be the father of each other’s sisters’ children and the pallbearers at each other’s family funerals; are now enemies; killing each other and even those same family members you used to eat from and with.
Who wins when innumerable babies will never know their fathers who were cut down by the gun, either when they were still in their mother’s wombs, or just shortly after making their exit into their world. These babies grow up with hate and revenge in their hearts, to one day become a “shotter” themselves because their entire lives is filled with that ONE thought that keeps them TRANSFIXED; and everything else means nothing, as they set out to kill those who killed their fathers. And if those who killed their fathers are already dead, or they can’t catch them, then their “shut” will HAVE to suffice instead.
Who wins when young men have no fear of dying, when you can’t reason with them and point them to the umpteen before them who have already died, and who died young, when they CHOSE this lifestyle; KNOWING that their lifespan WILL be short, and so they make up their minds to do as MUCH damage as they POSSIBLY can, before the bullet with THEIR name on it, makes it way to them?
Is this the “real ghetto story?” You tell me.