This is not fiction.
My family moved to a 3-bedroom flat on the street I currently stay, two weeks before my second birthday. Almost all the houses in the estate were storey buildings of several 3-bedroom flats. However, there was this building that looked out of place in the estate. It was the only unpainted building, and the only face to face building.
At about five years old, I was already conscious of the difference in our status in life. My friends and I referred to the kids living in that house as 'children of the uncompleted building’. It wasn’t that the building wasn’t completed, but for us, the building just looked to out of place for us to see it as ‘complete’.
We went to private schools, there barely made it through public schools, we went to universities, they learnt trades or became miscreants. We had cars, they did not. We gossiped about them, they gossiped about us. We said they were unruly, they said we were proud. That was the normal life we lived.
It was Blessing I first heard the word 'Bad Generation' from. I don’t know how the name came about, but I think her family must have started referring to ‘children of the uncompleted building’ as the Bad Generation kids, because of the little mischief the caused here and there. They played on the streets, their clothes were dirty, they rolled bicycle tyres with sticks, they could not speak English, they talked without respect, etc. So I guess no one argued when they heard them being referred to as the Bad Generation kids.
Before long, this name caught flame in the mouth of every single person in the estate. They were no longer the ‘children of the uncompleted building’. They were Bad Generation, everyone’s father called them Bad Generation, everyone’s mother called them Bad Generation, every single person called them Bad Generation. It was their label, it was normal. Whether the bad generation kids were aware that we called them by this name, I am not sure. Even if they knew, I am not sure they would have understood the meaning of the name.
My estate was quite peaceful and free of violence and the likes. This is because, when I was young, there was a period when armed robbers tried tormenting my estate, so our parents formed a vigilante. Our fathers had guns, and they took rounds to protect the estate. If a thief was caught, he was shot in the leg and then handed over to the police. No arguments! After a while, robbers never came to the area. They were scared of my estate.
By the time we were teenagers, some of the Bad Generation kids dropped out of secondary school. Blessing and her family moved to their house in Ikorodu. Ada, my second friend, moved out of area with her family and later moved to their own house. A lot of my childhood friends left the area. But not my family... my father built a fourteen bedroom mansion directly opposite the three bedroom flat we lived, and so unlike my friends and their families, I was stuck on my street, at least, until a man decided to change my surname and move me out of my father’s house.
Many fathers moved out of the area, the former landlords we met there grew very old. There were only two middle aged landlords. My father and a man we called Mr Glory. Because of this inevitable occurrence, the vigilante started losing its protective hold over the estate.
At this time... the Bad Generation kids had grown. For most of them, they had turned out to be bad, just like we had spoken negatively into their lives. Their numbers had increased, because they had brought friends of theirs to live with them. Some of them became vocational workers, some of them became miscreants, one of them was a confirmed armed robber, none of them was educated. But at least, my estate was still peaceful. Then...
My father died... mid age...
My house is like this very big dead house. Loads and loads of rooms, with no one to sleep in them. I live in the house with my mother, brother and sister. My mother gets home earliest, which is 7.00pm. The rest of us start getting home around 10.00pm. We live in a monumental waste. The Bad Generation kids cramp themselves in their face to face rooms, rooms smaller than the smallest room in my house, approximately about seven people in each. The gap between my family and theirs has grown wider over the years but no one blinks at this. It was normal. We all kept minding our businesses.
After my dad’s death, this left Mr Glory to protect the area. Somehow, the new set of young fathers who had moved to the estate were not as active as our fathers had been. Maybe it is because thought they had nothing to fear.
Mr Glory had seven children, but one of them refused education and home training, and turned out to be a thorn in his flesh. He became just like the Bad Generation kids, caused problem for his family, smoked weed, destroyed his father’s properties, beat people up and did every kind of bad thing one can think of. No one said anything, it was not our problem, it was Mr Glory’s problem and he would do well to sort it out. Then again...
Mr Glory died... mid age...
The Bad Generation have multiplied... they torment the estate. They organised robbers to steal the cars of estate residents. After the incident, guns and hard drugs were found in the building beside Mr Glory’s, something that could never have happened if Mr Glory were alive. We now live in fear, the cause of our insecurities resides with us, but there is nothing we can do about it for now.
In the past, when we were young, we laughed at them, we called them names, they were the Bad Generation kids, we were the good ones. Now we have grown, we are educated, we have good jobs, we have cars. They torment us, rob us and steal our cars. It seems the sins of our past have caught up with us... poke their fingers in our eyes... laugh at us... right in our faces.
* The name of Mr Glory has been changed to protect the identity of the person