Revisiting the ‘silent’ voice of teenagers in Lagos 1940 – 1950
Some of the most remarkable features of archival records in Ibadan Nigeria are the written expressions of teenagers to supposed European benefactors. These writings reflect the wholesome acceptance of the European value system that the teenagers had been significantly accustomed to and which had become entrenched in their worldview and mindset. This speaks to the significant reformations that had occurred in the psyche of individuals in their generation – old and young alike. This paper presents these expressions, leaving them as they are, to allow the words „speak for themselves‟. Particular attention is given to personal experiences as regards livelihood challenges, as they were written in correspondences to colonial authorities with the aim to give readers access to the uncensored „comments‟ of youngsters on general livelihood in colonial Lagos. Earlier sources exist, which provide significant discourses and perspectives on the experiences of a good number of these teenagers. However, there is more room for engagement with their texts. One way of making the texts available for a more expansive interrogation is to present them in the teenagers‟ own language, in full view of its „disorganisation‟, „lack of finesse‟, „bad grammar‟, „errors‟, „vagueness‟, and in certain cases, „outright inconsistency‟. Hence, this article makes no pretence about trying to „elevate‟ the status of the texts, but rather treats them as a kind of picaresque that discusses colonial urban livelihood realities.