Men are brave. Men are bold.
Men are fearless and strong.
Growing up on a council estate in East London, rapper Guvna B thinks he knows what it means to be a man. But when a personal tragedy sends him reeling, he’s forced to think again.
Dealing with grief means digging deep, challenging assumptions, finding a new kind of strength to carry on.
In this honest, unflinching memoir, Guvna B draws on his own experiences to explore how toxic masculinity is affecting young men today.
Unspoken is a powerful, personal account of what it means to be a man and what it takes to survive.
Thanks firstly to Harpers Inspire for sending me an incredible package containing a finished copy of the book, plus mug, notebook and tote bag, all bearing the same message, #leavenothingunspoken sounds sensible of course, but it wasn’t until I had read the book that I truly appreciated this sentiment.
Aimed at young people, I do think this book could be essential reading for all, jam packed full of wisdom I was left impressed by Guvna B’s honestry and reflective insight. The eldest son of first generation Ghanaian immigrants, his parents moved to England to better their lives. This was achieved through a certain stoicism and very hard work. Living on a diverse council estate, within his Christian family Guvna B was loved and secure, he was confident of that but he lived in a household where little emotion was expressed, particularly tears and sadness, being brave was admirable and strong, being sad was weak. This is true in many families and the traits of brave and strong are ones we particularly ascribe to boys.
In this memoir, Guvna B reflects on the death of his father which was a huge loss for him, sudden and unexpected, triggering a grief he struggled to move on from. For Guvna B this led, over time to recognising that his strategies of being brave and keeping things in were contributing to his grief and alienating those close to him, in particular his wife. Through councelling and hard self work he was able to open up more, he later engaged in marital councelling and strengthened his marriage.
Reflecting on all of this Guvna B shares his work with young people and the spiralling alienation of youths and the consequence of this in terms of violence and recent rises in knife crime. Thinking about unresolved grief and the impact on young people of knowing friends and peers who have been killed through not recognising their anger as grief, this can contribute to revenge acts.
Guvna B shares much about his faith in God and how this has helped him, he also offered views based on his personal experiences, about having a purpose and having people believe in you.
I found this book to be inspirational and hopeful and I hope Guvna B continues to use his voice and experiences to influence on both a local and national scale. Advocating the importance of sharing through talking, first in our families and then with others, Guvna B hopes this can tackle some of the masculine toxicity, recognising positive and negative feelings and accepting these all as part of the human journey. Guvna B writes in a way that I imagine reflects his personality and it left me feeling encouraged and brave, thinking he was correct and these risks of being more open are worth it for a more fulfilling and purposeful life.
A book I think would be helpful in schools and primarily aimed I think at young people, this makes it an accessible read but one that I will be recommending to everyone.
About the Author
Guvna B is an author and multi-award-winning, record-breaking Urban rap artist from London. He has carved out a unique place for himself in the music world, and his other artistic endeavours draw on his personal experiences of life in London, bringing together themes of faith, masculinity and identity.
Since winning his first MOBO Music Award at just 20 years old, Guvna’s journey has been one of breathless success and cutting-edge creativity. In a world often plagued by negativity, Guvna B hopes that he can be a beacon of light. His work is intended to demonstrate the strength and inspiration faith can bring.
He lives in London with his wife and son.