Boys Will Always Be Boys

I was that kid who always hanged with the boys at every chance. As years passed I got less invested in friendships, lost touch with so many activities and friends that meant the world to me and eventually got introverted. I realized how this is a challenge a lot of people I speak to and this is why I created this photo story.

This ongoing photo series is a requiem of my childhood friendships and that of many people who grew up in very communal environments. This is my own way of highlighting the joy of friendships and community especially among boys, and how quickly yet deeply we get connected to each other through leisure, our aspirations and even over our competitiveness. I also sought to express how the mundane things could mean so much to us; from how a 9-inched ball could bring hundreds of us together for a good 90 minutes on a dusty pitch to how flying kites and chasing sunsets along the shores of the ocean felt like therapy for us.

It always baffled me how we could go months as friends without knowing our real names and could still act like life-long brothers. This series is meant to stir up that conversation and also underscore the thought of how simple life could really be if we could just see each other as family before everything else. This photo story will probably keep going on long as I live; also focusing on the nuances of how time and age changes the dynamic of friendships and leisure.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Can We Take The Long Way Home? — 2023" After school, my friends and I will usually get off the bus half way home only to walk and discover new parts of the city. Photographing this story took me back into that time; We were carefree and full of life, cracking jokes, teasing each other and pointing at cars and houses we'd have liked to own in the future. I titled this one "Can We Take The Long Way Home?" also because sometimes no amount of time is enough when we are around the people that bring the best out of us.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" We'd sit on walls and fly our paper planes while we discussed our dreams of finding greener pastures elsewhere. We never went straight home after school and that walk back was an activity I looked forward to everyday. It taught me a lot seeing so many oddities on the streets and gave me time to reflect. Things changed as we grew older but there is nothing I'd exchange for those moments, and this photograph is a memento of that.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Taya Man No Be Lazy Man — 2023" "Taya Man No Be Lazy Man" is a popular pidgin phrase which renders as "A Tired Man Is Not A Lazy Man" in English, and I used this to depict the reality of the life of some boys who are forced to grow up overnight. Some friends who secretly worked to fund their education were always called lazy when caught slacking, when on the contrary they worked harder than anyone in the class. These young boys played the roles of both father and son but were given the credit for none.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" Seated at the table with our study tutors checking our homework and school grades was quite an iffy place to be. It was a good time to get back at my friends for teasing me through the day if they failed the tests, but on days where I wasn't lucky enough I was the laughing stock. Either way, we always made up, laughed it off and encouraged each other through our studies.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Greener Pastures, Bluer Oceans — 2023" Growing up along the coast meant seeing ships and boats docking and sailing every hour of the day. That sight meant something else to my boys and I. We never really saw ships or that ocean, we saw our dreams move to and fro; dreams of greener pastures and ways of exiting our current realities into the West. I won't lie, I had a fantasy of packing my bags one day and never looking back but the thought of my mother kept calling me back home. This is why I never judge any of the boys who stow away. Sometimes when life gets tough we see everything around us as our ticket into a new reality.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" Finding new hideaways was a hobby we picked up along the way. It taught us to confront our fears and to be expectant regardless. I remember we would keep following the thread of rocks across the ocean till we found a good spot with enough rocks to play a hide and seek maze. This photograph is a memento of that memory.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" My friends and I will usually sit under the rocks in the cool of the day making sandcastles, playing volley or sometimes doing practically nothing. In a world where we were/are appreciated for our contributions it was/is a little relieving knowing we were free from the need to prove our worth at least for a few hours. This photograph is also meant to underscore the beauty and purpose of leisure among men of colour.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - "Untitled — 2023"
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"Untitled — 2023"

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"The Barbershop I — 2023" The barbershop was really the place to be on a hot afternoon. We had live updates of everything from hot gossips to updates on football,and that goes down as one of my most anticipated activities growing up. Sometimes I didn't need a haircut but sitting through the jests at the barbershop did keep my mind at ease.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" Whenever we were bored we will bet our coins on a game of Dami (checkers). Though locally stigmatized as a game for lazy men and drunkards we loved to play and watch the experienced old folks play it all the same. The sound of the pieces dashing over the wooden board is how you knew who was winning the round; the louder the slap on the board, the closer the player was to a win. There was no real fun on a weekend without a game of "Dami".

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Totals — 2023" My boys and I would meet at the pitch almost every day of the week dressed and mannered like our favorite football stars. I always say if I did not discover photography, professional football would have been it for me. We absolutely loved the sport and days on that dusty pitch affirmed it. Kicking that ball around bonded us together more than we thought it would; believing we were soon going to be on TV with our country and families rooting for us. The title "Totals" is a local term for the "Keepie Uppie" football skill.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" The least skilled player among us quickly assumed his role as referee with his whistle and that stripped shirt. Quite a prestigious place to be for someone who knew everything about the sport except how to play it. Taking this photograph took me back in time with only one person in mind; my high school friend, Lawrence. He officiated the game so well but could barely score a goal from the 18-yard box.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" Growing up made me realize how some of my greatest eureka moments came through the encouraging words of people that looked like me and spoke my language. This photograph is meant to express just that; The power of community among boys and how vital it is to lift each other up by making everyone feel worth it regardless of our differences.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - "Untitled — 2023"
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"Untitled — 2023"

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Untitled — 2023" At a point growing up, there were boxing gyms in every corner of the city with posters of Mohammed Ali, Azumah Nelson and Ike Quartey everywhere. I initially thought it was a frenzy but boxing has eventually become a common sport especially in the coastal areas. Quite on the contrary as Ghanaians who are seen as conservative, we love a good bout. This photograph is a celebration of this sport and it's unique force in holding our communities together.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"Absent — 2023" I used to spend a lot of time alone baying the ocean with my brother and best friend. Some decades on I thought I'd get used to the sunset but no. Seeing the sky gradients and hearing the roar of the waves takes me back and forth into the past and the future. There were two things that got me in my own world; being around the people I loved, and being alone.

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - "Untitled — 2023"
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"Untitled — 2023"

© Carlos Idun-Tawiah - Image from the Boys Will Always Be Boys photography project
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"For Auld Lang Syne, My Friend — 2023" I titled this photograph "For Auld Lang Syne, My Friend" which translates as For Old Times Sake, My Friend inspired by the music record by Robert Burns. It felt right concluding the photo story with this photograph depicting the power of time and how it changes not only our habits, environments and friends but also the dynamics of them; where things that used to be fun aren't anymore, and where there isn't much strength to do the very things we still love. Accepting the hard reality that time has a way of changing us and the things we love even when we don't want it to.