Every African, born and raised by typical African parents is already guessing what this article holds in stock for you. Looking back on those things now they sound funny but at that time it sure wasn’t funny, not even close. It was so bad you could literally give off fumes from the ears. Yes, that bad. Between parental discipline and casual criminality is a very thin line. African parents are most guilty of this because of the quasi autocratic measures employed in the domestic society, I guess that’s how we originally are. Coping with this as a growing child comes in varying degrees, some good, some fairly good, and some… never mind. African Parenting is a clear package of the good, the bad and the ugly wrapped up with a ribbon of comedy; because in the end, we loved (and will always love each other) but had funny ways of expressing it. They may hurt, but give it time and they become the funnest memories ever, memories you won’t trade for anything in the world.
1. Amazing Race
Has your father (who is a demigod by the way) ever thundered your name from miles away, and you race up to him in corresponding supposed urgency, and you get there and all he wants you to do is to give him the remote to change the channel? Mind you, if he just stretched his hands out enough he could have just had the remote. I never understood it but I choose to call it a weird way of wanting to see my face; there’s no better explanation.
2. “Spare The Rod…”
African parents beat you to cry and beat you to stop crying; They say you can force a horse to the stream but you cannot force it to drink, well this is not true with African parents. They have debunked that philosophy, you as the horse move when they say move, and drink when they say drink, if not, that “horse” is in hot soup.
3. The Ultimate Search
As commendable as it is that they don’t want to hit you when they are angry – a personal experience might help someone out there. As a child if you saw me seemingly measuring my height with a random stick outside the house, ask no further, I’m on a mission, I’ve done something wrong and I am looking for a cane that’s exactly my height, mum’s orders. It usually took hours and i’ll end up not finding one (that conclusion could be deliberate though). By the time I’m done, someone’s temper is already calming down and at most I get one portable stroke of the wooden cooking spoon. The cane search was just for their utter entertainment, at the expense of my tension, drumming heartbeats and seriousness? That’s a crime.
4. Talking Eyes
You know when there’s a visitor and you are not allowed to sit around listening to adult’s conversation; or not permitted to accept gifts directly from (certain) visitors or strangers, somehow, this rule had just skipped your memory or perhaps for a moment you supposed you’ve outgrown that level. Then your eye meets with your mum’s, steadily gazing at you and you instantly get the message, clear and loud. “get up and get out”, or just say “no, thanks”. That part was the hardest if it had to do with toys you wanted or watching a favorite show on TV.
5. Sunday Runway Show
It’s Sunday and you have to go to church and sit together as a family should in gatherings like this. First, they show you where to sit, then adjust your dress, hat, shirt, anything at all on your body, then it’s offering time, the whole congregation gets to witness the offering before the Offertory box does. The highlight is when it is a coin and it falls, you practically feel like varnishing from the church, if it falls and rolls out to the walkway, you’ll have to go, look for it and pick it up, so much drama for a Sunday service.
6. They Don’t Get It
You just turned 12 and adolescence is kicking in and your perspective is changing gradually. Shopping time, and someone is busy in a section that you consider childish. The best you can do is to borrow the bull-dog spirit from any available source and try it on, then politely say you don’t like it. If your parents are liberal enough, they might ask what you want and make an effort towards that direction, if not, my sincerest condolence because something that they like and think is amazing on you will be bought and you will wear it till further notice. That’s the kind of “costume” that makes you want to hide when you see your friends.
7. They Officially Just Don’t Get It
Still on the adolescence stage, it’s bad enough that your “costume” is giving off a staggering low percentage of your personality, they add salt to injury and pressure you to dance with “children”. Why can’t they just see what is going on? Why can’t they figure out that everything around you is just playing down on your self-esteem (supposing we had the real picture of what that really meant). Dance! they say, and you wonder, with which confidence? These things don’t come handy you know, you are not in the mood, simple.
8. Mumbo Jumbo Tales
“Swallow the orange seed and soon a tree will be growing out of your head”. Really? Grandparents didn’t also help in this regard, in fact they worsened the situation and had folk tales to back it up. Sometimes they use it against you, “If you don’t behave, I’ll make the tree to grow out right now”, with some cartoon fantasies, you feel it’s true and certainly do not want to take the chance.
9. “In My Time…”
The most legendary of all expressions, “In my time, I was always the best and the first…” Looking back now, it’s so hilarious, a typical incredible lie. However, it did some good in making children work hard enough to be like their parents, their first role models. Sometimes teachers employed this fable too and it equally did wonders. At a point, too much of the coincidental expression makes you wonder why the nation was still the way it was if they were all smarts in their time. I guess it’s the economy; it just has to be.
10. Sorry Is Luxury
Why can’t these guys say sorry when they are obviously wrong? Children are young and growing but definitely not dumb, they know stuff, more like we knew stuff and still know stuff, I suppose. Another one from my undergraduate experiences, my room-mate (a lot younger than I was) was speaking to her father and all of a sudden the line went off; judging from the subject of their discussion, she assumed and concluded her dad hung up on her, she called back and demands for an apology, in her words, “that was rude, you have to apologize”, and I thought to myself, really? Things are finally getting better around here. I wish that kind of dad could go round for everyone. Believe it or not, till this day, they might never use those words, “I’m sorry”, but they surely take note; some show remorse through unsolicited surprises; while some still have to get acquainted with the whole concept.