A SLUM DIARY – Click of the Tourists’ Cameras

“Click!” And another “click!” It comes twice. The first may not have a flash. But the second click does. The flash light comes blinding. But that isn’t my problem. I like it, especially when I’m placed under serious smiles with some crisp notes. Other children envy me. I can’t tell why that is, but my curly hair, my skin colour and my stature are mainly the reasons, I presume.

White men that visit Africa always find us fascinating. They enjoy all we do. From clicking at children diving into streams, to sweating teenagers cleaning the windscreen of cars for money, they love all we do.  A lot of them wouldn’t buy what we sell. But they never minded any pictures. They clicked at cats crossing the road. They would click at quarreling market women and struggling bus conductors. They also clicked at monuments. You see them in armed protected vehicles. Someone said taking pictures of us was a good thing. He said that the pictures would travel to their lands and would be put on large billboards and computers. And we would be famous. Others have said the pictures generate funds for these people. That was when we intensified our charge for every picture they snapped.  Sani thought up the idea. It was a smart one. And I was smart too.

When I grow up, I want to have many children, maybe ten or fifteen of them. And I would position them around the country with large bowls like I have now. I would take some to Port Harcourt; I heard the people there are rich. Someone said there is oil money everywhere, even in the air, especially in Bonny, an Island close to the Garden City, where women go for good luck, and hustlers like us begged for mercies. I would take a half of my children there and make them bug all the white and black people so one day; we would pool resources and build ourselves an empire. I am sure the dream would come through. I would send a couple of them to Lagos. The governor there is a bitch. He stopped us from hawking and street trading. He stopped our business.  He stopped everything because he knows nothing and cares less. That is bad business. He wants to kill my dreams.

I would have made so much money today if I had been discovered by another white tourist. But I didn’t. I missed my luck. I was at the National Stadium where the President’s daughter was celebrating her eighteenth birthday. Bigger people were there. I did put on my best cloth and begged really seriously for bigger pay. But the bastards threw us out. They wouldn’t allow me entrance even with my new pair of slippers and my sport jersey. They barred all of us, even Halima, my love. We got stuck until we found the back door. We sneaked in and meet another dead end. They tricked us. We found our ways out when the wedding was over and we didn’t even eat. We gathered the foods from the crumbs. Some chicken were not properly eaten, especially the bones. I like the soft bones of chicken more than the ones we pick up at the slaughter house. We collected them into polythene bags and headed out of the stadium before the floodlight was knocked off.

Tomorrow is another day. Maybe I would find my dearest, Halima, and tell her of my dreams of ten or fifteen children and the strategic location idea. I like Halima a lot. I have not told her, because I think I am not ready yet. I would be fifteen in a week’s time. Maybe I would have added some more height. Someone said I wouldn’t grow any taller. I know it’s a lie. I know I would grow taller and marry Halima and have so much money and maybe have a family snap shot from the click of the tourists’ cameras.

16 thoughts on “A SLUM DIARY – Click of the Tourists’ Cameras” by Nwilo Bura-Bari Vincent (@saintvinny)

  1. This is really good…imagine someone aspiring to build an empire of beggars. Ignorance is a bitch aint it?
    Nice narrative.

    I think I noted a couple of errors tho…’we found our ways out’…I think it should be ‘we found our way out’ or ‘we found our different/separate ways out’.

    And ‘I like the soft bones of chicken more than the ones we pick up at the slaughterhouse’ implies that they pick another type of bone up at the slaughterhouse. to me anyway.

    Nice one…creative.

    1. @seun have you not seen beggars picking up goat and cow bones form the slaughter house?

  2. I enjoyed reading this.Really creative.

    Well done!!!

  3. Well, this makes a good read. Apart from the few mistakes noted by Seun above, I’d like to kindly to kindly put forward this well-meaning analysis that I have made.

    From par 2, present tense jumps off to past. Line 10 should read: “You would see them…” in any case. Since the piece is a diary, one could assume a beggar who’s not so fluent – we all make mistakes, especially, in speech – but the narrative style is first person and there’s no time frame, not a clear clue.

    Par 4, line 12 should read: “We sneaked in and met…” Line 14: birthday or wedding? Maybe I didn’t follow, huh? Line 5 reads: “… eighteenth birthday…” Line 15: foods or food? You should better describe the kinds of food or food crumbs. Line 16/17: “I liked the soft bones…more than the ones we picked up…” would be correct.

    Last par, line 1: “Maybe I will find…” Line 5: “I will be fifteen in a week’s time” Line 6: “Maybe I will have added some…” Line 7: “Someone said I won’t grow…” should be correct. Have you really grown yet to negate the opinion? Line 8: “I know I will grow taller…” is correct. (Simple future tense showing certainty.) The par is “would-ridden” (pun intended). I love you all.

    1. @bode i really dont understand your observation. i tried severally but i still think the parts you highlighted are okay *confused and straining eyes*

  4. This is really creative… Keep it up.

  5. Very different but got me thinking…good job!

  6. As usual, Ur style speaks for itself. But those same errors of tense still creep in…Watch that.

  7. To be honest, I think your voice (Nwilo) overshadowed that of the beggar whose diary this was supposed to be. But the story is interesting.

  8. Good story, Nwilo. I liked the way you showed the MCs thoughts on the tourists’ photography.

    I thought that the paragraph about the president’s party was an unneeded digression from the topic of how the MC saw tourists who came visiting; without it, I would definitely rate the story more.

    Also, watch out for typos like this:

    “Some chicken were (should be wasn’t) not properly eaten, especially the bones.”

  9. This is different. Your usual obsession with sex and women was noticeably absent. Perhaps you’ve found christ. Lol
    But this is supposed to be a beggars POV, you interfered with the beggar’s view.

    1. did you not see the part about marrying and have a whole football team of children @kaycee

  10. I agree with Myne and Kaycee. This is a beautiful story, very interesting angle. Proud of you, keep it up.

  11. i expected nothing less, however i feel it is too short, and rushed, but i liked.

  12. Nice stuff. could have had much more content anyways.

  13. bross, you did well. take note of the suggestions above

Leave a Reply