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  • Writer's pictureOluwaseun Olowo-Ake

What Do We Do About The Boy?

A few years ago, I wrote a poem called The Jacket, something very different from what I do on here, but that I included because this is Story to Culture and I think storytelling takes different forms.

I say that because this entry is also a little bit different, and the piece it is about is from the same creator who made the (actual) jacket that inspired The Jacket (poem).

She also happens to be my sister.

Sola Olowo-Ake as the narrator
© Sola Olowo-Ake "The Boy With A Thorn In His Side" (2024)

The Boy With A Thorn in His Side is a visual musical poem by Sola Olowo-Ake, a re-imagining of the story of the Good Samaritan, where the moral of the story is that the person we are to love like we love ourselves is the person who needs our help- no matter where they are from.

In The Boy With A Thorn, Sola acts as a narrator (or more of a town crier), alerting her community to the presence of this boy. There is somebody who needs their help. The crier is looking for some form of action, emphasising that this boy sits on the street as people walk and drive by, yet no one pays him any mind. She then asks, "if we can't see it, are we justified?"

This is possibly a moral dilemma a lot of us find ourselves in, with the tragedies that take place daily around the world. On the one hand, technology makes us more aware now, so we don't have the excuse of ignorance when we're faced with taking action. On the other hand, we can be weighed down by the thought that we're not able to solve every tragedy. Are the actions we are taking even making any difference? What truly is the best way to actually change something?

The other characters in The Boy With A Thorn, to me, fall on different sides of the spectrum of these emotions. Some of them hear of the boy, but carry on with their days as if nothing was happening, 'after all, what can I do about it?'; another paces about worrying about the situation, 'oh the boy is hurt, someone needs to do something'; another buries themselves into books, 'I'm going to educate myself/learn about what's happening/hear all sides of the story' as the narrator continues to raise awareness about the situation. All the while, the thorn continues to be in the boy's side.

Sola Olowo-Ake as the other characters
© Sola Olowo-Ake "The Boy With A Thorn In His Side" (2024)

The poem ends open ended, mostly because the creator recognises that by creating this poem, she also exists on this spectrum as the narrator calling attention to the situation. She highlights the 'catch-22-ness' of it all and leaves the piece with the listener to do with as they please.

I believe in working our little corners, and doing what we can where we are or with what we have to make the world better. Raising awareness, I think, is always just step one to fixing an issue. And writing this, I realise how easy it is to type up a few words and close the laptop, but let this, like Sola's piece, just be a reminder to us to actually do some good with our lives, however we're able.

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