Last year, it was one of those August Sundays when I didn’t go to church. So I was just on the internet, surfing, texting and blogging. With time, everything began to bore me. So I hopped onto some free Wi-Fi and logged on to YouTube (by the way, thank you, GTConnect).
And there it was, on the front page of YouTube; Dr Tony Rapu Rescues Young “Shanawole”. On the video thumbnail, I could faintly see a young skinny looking person, I actually thought it was Emmanuella and it was going to be another comedy skit. So I clicked on the video. And that was the shocker of the month.
Shanawole is a boy from the slums of Ejigbo, and he claimed he belonged to a cult gang. He claimed he had fought in many gang wars, and he even narrated a fight he had with another gang member; and he flaunted a souvenir scar he received from that well attended event. In this same video, He was freely singing some of his fraternity songs and he openly smoked marijuana with some of his age mates. He was 11-years-old.
Today, search results for “Shanawole” will bring tabs such as; “MENACE TO THE SOCIETY”, “11-YEAR-OLD CULTIST SAYS HE HAS KILLED MANY PEOPLE”. A resident of the young boy’s community that was interviewed claimed he was scared of Shanawole, he said, anytime people heard that he (Shanawole) was coming their way, they ran in terror. Shanawole himself, claimed he had killed many, and had gone on armed robbery operations.
So how did he get that far? Like, where was his mother? Where was his father? Where was the society? Where were his neighbours? And where were we? Who initiated him? Who gave an 11-year-old a gun? Only God knows how long it had been? How can anyone so young grow up in the underworld to become a Don?
A stroll around the Oshodi axis, Mushin area, Fadeyi environs, and the Bariga slums on a week day, will give you a bright picture. Sun in your eyes? No. It’s the picture of school age kids, young boys, hanging on the streets, on curvets and curbs and bridges and stalls. They gather in their groups and sit in hundreds.
Thanks to The Almighty God for using Pastor Dr Tony Rapu and his Foundation, God Bless Nigeria/Freedom Foundation, now, 11-year-old Shanawole is being rehabilitated. He is now a joyful Christian and his name is Michael. All he needed was some care, from the society. All he needed was some little attention. All he needed was some caution. All he needed was some love. All he needed was someone to tell him that what he was doing was wrong.
Michael is one of many Nigerian young boys who have had little or no experience of a decent childhood. He can’t get that back now, and we can only hope for his brighter future.
But we can do more for the rest of the kids out there; Your younger ones, or your neighbour’s sons, even their daughter’s too. Don’t keep quiet when they start to show some traits. This is your society too! Support rehabilitation of tough kids and don’t kick them out to the streets. Because the rotten meat that you throw into the bin, another dog will pick up and eat. And that dog might come back, well fed, and bark you up a tree.
It is our job to make sure a young soul is guided. It is our duty to teach them the lessons we have learnt. So they don’t make the same mistakes we made. And so that they see the better way.
We have these duties, and more. They’re the cheapest things you can give to an 11-year-old boy. Not a knife, not some weed, and definitely not a gun.