Manuwa

How has the neighbourhood you grew up in moulded you into the person you are today?


A single road escapes from the bustle of the commercial corridor that is Raymond Njoku Street. This lesser known road leads into a neighbourhood known as ‘Manuwa’. Here, wooden kiosks that sell soap, bread, and mosquito-repellant coils are the only signs of mercantilism. Children play games on the street with scraps of tin and cardboard. Their mothers sit outside with charred pots to fry akara cakes. They do not prevent their children from running in the street; after all, who would come here? It didn't take long for a construction company to perceive value in the neighbourhood. Cranes and gun toting police officials were sent to demolish one of the older buildings there.

A cheerful yellow duplex was built in its place, and a car with two bickering children arrived at its gates. I was one of the children and the yellow house was to be my home for the next ten years.

One day, my mother found me playing in the driveway with another girl who lived in the neighbourhood. When the girl returned to her home and I to mine, my mother called me to the verandah. “See.” she pointed to the neighbouring house: an old, sinking structure with blackened windows. “That’s where the girl you were playing with today lives. You can play games with...

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