My book review of 'Unspoken' by Guvna B
I can't say I'm familiar with rap artists, but Guvna B has won two MOBO awards and released 10 albums. He has also appeared on BBC as a football pundit and to discuss issues facing young people from underprivileged communities.
Subtitled 'Toxic Masculinity and How I Faced the Man Within', this is a very personal memoir about grief and the challenges today in being a man.
Guvna B is Isaac Borquaye who was brought up in a Ghanian family in East London. A few years ago, his father died suddenly and Isaac realised that he didn't have the mechanism to cope with the grief at this loss.
Isaac had been taught never to cry. He'd been told that a man should be brave and strong, and not show his emotions or vulnerability. It meant that he became angry and withdrawn, and turned to alcohol.
With good friends and family getting alongside him, Isaac was eventually able to confront his feelings and the second half of the book looks at what this experience has taught him about the expectations and behaviours of other young men in society today.
Working with schools, at youth clubs and in community projects, Isaac reveals that the young people he meets generally have two expectations of life - an early death or prison. Young men, in particular, don't know how to manage their emotions or constructively express their anger or frustration, and they aren't being offered an alternative lifestyle or career path.
For Isaac, it was a primary teacher who instilled in him an ambition and sense of self-worth, when she told him he had a gift for writing.
He urges us all to think of how in Africa, there is an understanding that 'it takes a village to raise a child'. We all have a part to play. And for Isaac, he says that he measures success not by money or fame, but the lives he has touched and changed for the better. It's a moving, thought-provoking and inspiring read.