smoking, drinking, burglary, extortion, marijuana use – the life of one sickle cell warrior

‘My Life As an ‘Area Boy’

By Titi Aladei

Oluwadare Olatunji David, alias Pastore, is a 29-year-old former street hooligan – or, as they are called in Lagos, ‘Area Boy’. Until three years ago, he was neck deep in the trade of hooliganism – rough living, extortion, burglary, etc.

Unlike most Area Boys, Pastore lives with a medical condition most unsuited for that kind of life. He has sickle cell anaemia, diagnosed after a severe bout of malaria when he was one year old.

His parents were both deaf and dumb – and lacked the educational or financial muscle to give him and his siblings a good push in life. Thus, as a teenager, his life gravitated towards that of the jetsam and flotsam of society. He barely finished secondary school before he became a bus conductor, that class of disenchanted ruffians who work by day and steal by night.

Dangerously as he lived, he never broke down enough to be hospitalized or transfused. In his 28 years, he has been transfused and hospitalized just once, when he was five years old.

Pastore would later turn his back on his life as a street urchin and go back to school. He now has a National Diploma and is a volunteer Education Officer with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).

In this interview with Titi Aladei, he recalls his life as a bus conductor and ‘Area Boy’.

What was Your Most Memorable Sickle Cell Crises?

When I was 5, I felt so sick that it was believed that I would die.

How has sickle cell affected your life?

Sickle Cell affected my growth. I wish I could be taller. I am way too short

You were once a bus conductor, tout, ‘Area Boy’ in Lagos – how did you find yourself amidst miscreants and outcasts?

I came from a poor background. I had to fend for myself.

Can you recall an unforgettable event during this time?

On October 1 2009, my cohort and I went to harass workers at the site of a building under construction. We would normally frighten them into parting with money; otherwise we would disrupt their work. It was a bloody bloody day, but I emerged practically unscathed.

Did you engage in all those vices ‘Area Boys’ are notorious for – cigarette smoking, hemp smoking, whoring, stealing, etc?

Yes I did. Even till now I still do marijuana (weed) on occasion but I left stealing a long time ago.

How and when did you turn away from this kind of life?

I turned away from being a tout, an ‘Area Boy’ 3 years ago.

What do you do now? Did you have to go back to school for further education?

I volunteer now but I want to continue my education if the means are available.

Do you still come across your former street fellows? If so, how do you relate with them?

Yes I do, I just greet them and walk away.

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