Misconception Of Street Life Thuggery-A Nigerian Youths’ Story
Street life is not thuggery, neither is thuggery street life. The only similarity is that both classes are found on the streets
Misconception Of Street Life Thuggery
Every day, everywhere and every time there is always this aphorism on the lips of most Nigerian youths – “The street is hard.” This national affirmation by hustling young bloods in recent times was birthed from the former street chorus – “No paddy for jungle.” Some of our fathers and uncles must have chorused the latter in the ’80s and ’90s especially if they grew in a ghetto.
It is not an arguable thing that what people say, hear and believe feed their minds and to a great extent, influence their actions. When these words are continuously professed among youths, especially teenagers, it drives bad energy and irrigates the mental garden of youth to begin planting the wrong seed in his head. This scales up to translate to deep misconceptions of many issues which become their philosophy of life.
In a typical ghetto setting in Nigeria, youths of various ages are seen perpetrating numerous ill acts in the name of surviving in the street. The climax of these outrageous actions is seen when they become puppets in the hands of their paymasters. Perhaps, they barely live by their own rules which are secondary to the dictates of the Boss. As toys, they are played by their controllers in a promise of something they might end up not getting. But at what point has living a normal street life turned to thuggery? What could account for the misunderstanding of thuggery and normal streetlife?
An Aba born and brought up young vibrant youth and a strong activist against social violence, Ekenedirichukwu Umeanozie in sharing his story said “For me, thuggery is a violent act performed by a thug. Street life can literally mean the activities people engage in a particular neighbourhood. It could be positive activities to help each other or negative ones. In the street I grew up, it was like a class. There was a time it was my senior brother and his age mates owned the street until they started to gain admission and my age mates took over. Then in the street, we played football together, sometimes we fixed soccer matches with other streets. It was fun.
We did rap, we threw punch lines at each other, we admired and toasted girls etc as a way we catch fun and live happily. If someone steals among us, we know. We usually call the person to order and advise him. If he steals in the group there’s a kind of punishment meted to him for shaming the group. The character of the street mates is based on their values. We grew together as brothers in a brotherhood”.
“Talking of thuggery, I think the concept has been largely influenced by the late American rap king – Tupac Shakur. He called himself a thug but preached against thuggery in his songs. Since many youths idolize him without rationality, I think Tupac’s influence is pivotal in people’s misconception of street life to thuggery.”
Chiamaka Priscilla, an Enugu brought up young lady in her unique story, made the following comments “Millions of youths roam the streets of Lagos, Enugu, Aba, Onitsha, etc. trying to survive. With the failure of our government in human capital development alongside the high unemployment rate, many youths prowl the streets like a wounded lion hunting for prey. In their mind, they are very objective to make it. By hook or crook, how it comes doesn’t matter. This accursed mentality liberates the beast in them and makes violence and crimes soothing options to quickly arrive. At the point of choosing negative easier ways to positive stressful ways, peers influenced decisions to self-decision, a youth tends to lose his normal street life hustling to thuggery. This is always the point of deviation.”
“Thuggery is a choice. Some youths in the quest for survival sell their consciences and sacrifice their souls to people with political authority whom they deify on the return of crumbs to scramble on.”
In his exclusive contribution, Chinonso Igwe, a student born and bred in Lagos State put some clarity through his story, thus: “Thuggery and Streetlife are both entirely two different concepts. Streetlife has to do with resorting to the street as the last option; mainly because you want to survive at all cost, without harbouring criminal intention. Many destitute, people with great passion, people who want to make it or die trying are in the streets, going through the thorny paths of the street.”
“But thuggery is entirely a different act perpetrated by thugs, who are bandits, criminals and rogues. The only similarity is that both classes are found in the streets. But while the former has a healthy mindset to make ends meet. The latter is also prepared to make ends meet unhealthily by robbing innocent citizens of their hard-earned resources.”
In summary, Streetlife is not thuggery, neither is thuggery streetlife. Streetlife in its purest form is void of violence. Thuggery is purely characterized by violence. The misconception comes from poor understanding, the poor understanding comes from what influences intuition. And intuition is hugely influenced by association, environment and interpretation.
Your environment may paint a wrong picture, your association might colour it worse, but it takes your personal interpretation to correct everything.
Chukwuka Okoro is a student activist and writer who through his writings, creates solutions to some of the problems in the society.