Old statistics I know but it crushes me to hear of knife or gun crime among teenagers. It crushes me even more to hear ethnic names being linked to the crime as either victims or offenders not to talk of when I hear a Nigerian name. I have heard how communities in parts of Nigeria save thousands of Naira to send an indigene to the United Kingdom for further studies. This individual is looked upon as the messiah. The plan is for this person to study hard and get a good degree so that when he (mostly men) comes back home he can get a good job and help the rest of the community.
Well, many times the individual gets here and finds things aren’t that easy. He studies hard but can barely feed so starts working. He works really hard all day and night till winter comes. Then, he finds out it’s not so nice coming home to a cold bed. So, he gets a wife. Soon enough the children come along. The degree gets side-tracked and he’s doing all that’s necessary to feed the family.
With mother and father in the rat race, the children often lack the direction they need and take it from movies and music. It is unfortunate that these very mediums youth turn to when they have questions often lack the much needed advice. When I look back at all the good advice I got as a kid, it came on old VHS tapes and was delivered by men in cream suits!
When the government speaks of reaching Black youth with role models, I don’t think the way is asking role models to deliver speeches in their shiny brogues. Very few youth are moved by grammar especially not the ones that have been listening to the West Side versus East Side debates. They need to be reached in a way that’s fresh, creative, makes sense and most importantly, hits home.
I can’t rap or draw graffiti but I am sure there are creative Nigerians with ideas to reach youth growing up in rough areas. Who knows? I might have some hidden creativity too. It may also be necessary to start a widespread campaign in Nigeria that coming to the UK is not a financial Mecca. This may be the perfect time especially with the new government’s immigration laws.