Boys Being Boyz
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  • Age:
  • 25
  • Nationality:
  • Malaysian
  • Eye tone:
  • Gray-blue eyes
  • My favourite drink:
  • Gin
  • My piercing:
  • None
  • Body tattoos:
  • I don't have tattoos


According to Uchman, one of his subjects, success is finding what you are looking for at any given time. What is he looking for, this thick set Igbo man with thick lips? He wants the freedom to eke out a living, albeit a precarious one hustling on the streets of Lagos. Uchman is an area boy, a street hustler with a baby mama and a daughter. But how happy and free can a life be when it is circumscribed by poverty and lack and deprivation.


If you dig through there are insights and lessons into all their stories. We now have a balanced story about area boys. Private organizations have a role to play, individuals have a role to play, nonprofit organizations have a role to play. So in the course of seeing them and interacting with them, I just realized that I had to make something about them. How do we stop their continued marginalization and disenfranchisement? What did they think of it? Whatever conclusion we arrive at about area boys was gleaned from hearing them share their stories.

Was it a conscious decision? And I believe that the single most important thing I could have done as a filmmaker was to use my voice and skills to call attention to this and create room to have the conversation about why it is important to understand these guys, so we can better interact and co-exist with them.

Beyond money, it is that and asking Boys being boyz do we create equal opportunities for them. When EndSars happened, we were the ones who felt the heat from the criminal elements in the aftermath. Another consequence was that some of these young men who were in service to their communities morphed into terrorizing hoodlums. I found all of them equally fascinating.

His crushed dream almost brought me to tears. In fact, they were the ones who asked us to pay the area boys off. Because if we act as though they have no sense of shared values, a shared experience with us, it now becomes a case of us against them.

And not without reason; almost every Nigerian has either a theft or an extortion experience with them. And so we decided on just letting the area boys share their stories. We have similar hopes and dreams. We wanted people to see them in a different light.

At some point when making the film, I thought of including interviews with everyday people sharing their experiences with area boys. A fan of rapper Naira Marley writes that it will take more than counter-cultural popularity to effect any Boys being boyz change in Nigeria. The more research I did, I also realized that there was no real example of a case where area boys had been allowed to tell their stories.

Boyz being boyz

For them, that was sort of a mission fulfilled and a dream come true. I think that was something that struck us: how incredibly self-aware these guys Boys being boyz. It was also important that in telling this story we needed them to confront and take responsibility for the violence they cause. And so the reason why it was important to humanize them was to challenge this and acknowledge their humanity in sharing their full story. We essentially began this harrowing process of moving stuff around—taking stuff out, adding new stuff for greater emotional context, shooting new footage to contextualize what the guys were saying; exploring the relationship between particular visual and narrative pieces to tell the best story possible.

Do you have plans to further the conversation around area boys and in helping to alleviate their situation? Or them against us. I think I should give a background to making this documentary. We do feel a sense of responsibility. Area boys especially those in Lagos are known to be a single thing—notorious. For me, it was Volume who had come to Lagos to pursue his music dreams, loses all his valuables in one night, and had to become a street pimp to survive.

The response was overwhelming. But it was amazing because we had people in the audience that were crying. We have come to see them as multidimensional, not just as a menace to society.

In which case, an area boy shares his story, then you cut to someone talking about how area boys robbed them. Do you feel a sense of responsibility? While aspects of this are true, it is still a single-sided narrative. Why did you think it important to humanize them by telling their stories? So, they rose up. I believe we all have a responsibility to these guys. Without endorsing their nefarious activities, he presents them with an opportunity to share their stories. I spoke with Itegboje about the film, the inspiration behind it, creating it, and the need to humanize the street boys of Lagos.

Youth unemployment became rampant. That whole process essentially took about a year to complete and if I had hair, I would have been pulling it out every second of the way till we got to the end when it all came together beautifully.

With “awon boyz” area boys take over netflix? – toni kan

These young men and sometimes women grouped themselves into a form of sociocultural organization who carried out duties to their communities that included acting as de facto security personnels and organizers of local parties and festivals. The later years of the 80s came with repressive military leadership that not only disregarded education but instituted policies that brought about economic hardships that thrust many families into poverty. Just seeing all those people connect to their stories and be so welcoming and embracing of them in this setting was a lot for them to see.

And to be honest, we are kind of the same. Further Reading Culture Culture But what else do we know about area boys? A lot of us in privileged positions need to realize that but for fate and circumstances, we could be in a similar situation. They are loosely organized gangs of street teenagers and adult males operating in the Southern Nigerian cities of Aba, Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Benin, Ibadan, and Lagos, where their notoriety is more renowned.

In a sense, it almost feels like you are passing judgement. Because disregarding that they are humans as we are means treating them as less than. Yes, they extort money from motorists but they are also loving fathers and wonderful friends.

Today, they are maligned and stigmatized for their criminality. But it did produce some interesting insights Boys being boyz how I approached the conversations with the guys. Even my parents were at that screening.

Lagos street boys

That was in the 70s and early years of the 80s. They extort money from passers-by, traders, motorists and passengers, pick pockets, peddle drugs, and during elections become racketeering tools for fraudulent politicians in exchange for financial compensation. And what they offer is a balanced narrative about their lives, which allows us an understanding of who they are and why they are. And so we have to take it seriously.

I think I liked that they owned up to it and merely were interested in telling us how they became who they are. It was really special for them because it achieved our purpose for the documentary when we spoke to them the first time. And you know, this project is special for me because it is one of the few times as a filmmaker I went in with one intention and I was able to achieve exactly that intention. I was reminded of how uncertain life is.

That is why there is a whole segment where we are having a conversation with these guys about violence and if they recognize how destructive it is sometimes. But like I Boys being boyz, the conversation goes beyond that.

I was struck by how willing they were to share the minutest detail about their lives. Parents could no longer send their children to school. How do we move them from the fringes of society and reintegrate them?

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We shot the interviews, which ended up being long, and then transcribed those interviews. It is unfair to expect coherent politics from Naira Marley or his fans, the Marlians.

We should, instead, chastise the Nigerian state for stifling its people and keeping its young perpetually waiting. So, one of the things that we did was to set aside a portion of the revenues from the film and give it to each of the guys.

Following that, my dad had this group of businessmen in his church invite them over to see the documentary again. All right. I think it was important to us that they saw it at that screening as well. They have seen it twice. Image credit Tolulope Itegboje.

So I worked as an advertising agency producer for six years. We all have a role to play. I spent about a year researching the topic, which in hindsight was an insane amount of time. And the guys know that they can call me to support them in whatever way I can personally. My job entailed producing TV commercials and obviously, in the course of the work we had to interact with area boys. We are also putting them in touch with people who have reached out to say they want to help.

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Boys Will Be Boyz is a live video by Newsboys, released in