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Guide to surviving as a child in an African home

Guide to surviving as a child in an African home

By: SHUTTI, Ridwanullah Olaitan

An African home can be likened to a den of lions. A hunter intending to carry out an expedition in a lion-ridden forest should be armed to the teeth with various hunting equipment like guns, bows and arrows, amongst others. This guide is therefore the gun with which a child born to African parents in an African home must arm himself or herself with to guarantee their survival. An African child needs to learn and know the following by heart: –

The first thing you need to know as a child “lucky” to be born to an African parent is that African parents are always right. They can do no wrong. Where an African parent is wronged, the errant child is expected to sincerely apologise for his bad behaviours. Where a child “feels” wronged by his African parents, he is also obligated to apologise for his mistakes, seek their forgiveness and promise to turn a new leaf.

You need to know that once you are born to African parents, you have no say in the decision-making process. Key issues affecting your life are subject to the verdicts of your parents. For instance, where as a student in SSS1, you have a keen interest in the arts and the humanities and have decided to follow your heart; if your parents should want you to go the sciences, you have no choice but to go to the sciences, regardless of whether or not you can cope. African parents, most especially the father, are the Supreme Lord whose words are the law that must be obeyed even if your feelings are trampled upon. Which feelings sef? May your feelings be damned!

Do not expect any display of affection from either of your parents. Hugs, kisses, pecks and all forms of “wanton” show of affections, either between your parents or between you and your parents, are signs of weakness. Only weaklings do that. Or do you want your father be regarded as a coward?

Picture yourself as a soldier residing in a barrack. During your “stay” in your parents’ house, you shall be subjected to a lot of rules, arbitrary or not, whether you consent to them or not. Your day shall start as early as 5:30 am. You will perform loads of house chores, prepare for school, go to school around 7 am, return by 4 pm. Know that there is no rest for you at all. Have a change of clothing and hurry up to meet your fellow “soldiers” at the evening coaching centre very close to your house, where you will be till 6:30 pm. Then you proceed to do your homework, after which you will read till 10 pm before you are allowed even a wink of sleep.

Now, you may wonder why all these are necessary. Your parents topped their classes in all the years of their stay at school, don’t you want to be like them? Also, you are not allowed to watch the TV or have a phone till you finish high school. Those are instruments of the devil and you are too young to be corrupted. Ignore the fact that your phones can be useful in your learning activities.

Except members of your immediate family, the rest are witches and wizards. Their foods are forbidden for you, so are cash and material gifts from them. In the event that you are cornered and have no choice than to except gifts from them, make sure to give them to your mother for effective and thorough cleansing and safe-keeping, as the case may be.

You must note that oral language is not the only means of communication in an African home. This is perhaps the most important skill you need to arm yourself with as this is second only to the first skill mentioned above. You might need to learn the Morse code sef. Learn to understand the various body language and looks of your parents, looks most importantly. Take note that looks are contextual. What a look means in a particular situation may not necessarily be the same as what the look might mean in another instance. A look might mean “excuse us” in a particular instance and mean “sit down!” in another instance. The consequence of misinterpreting any of such looks or body language are damning. You need not be informed that African parents, especially the mother, are well-trained in the use of whips, iron spoons, ladles, belts, sticks, and many other instruments for effectively restoring an errant child to sanity. Resounding slaps on both cheeks, and on the occiput should not be ignored at all.

In the course of any quarrel between yourself and any of your parents, there is no fair hearing. You are to be seen and not heard. You must not at any time interrupt your parents at any level of the “trial.” You are not allowed to counter any of the issues raised. Even if a cockroach is described as a dragon, in your best interest you should keep mute. Know that no matter what, you can’t be right. You may think you are, but no! your brain is playing tricks on you. How can you be right? Do you want to be labelled a bad child?  

Conclusively, you should know that everything your parents do are in your best interest and for your benefits alone. Hence, you must religiously obey them and strictly adhere to any instruction given to you.

Shutti Ridwanullah Olaitan is a student of law, who has interests in journalism and writing. He tweets on the bird app via @ajani_shutti.

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Ridwan Adedeji
Ridwan Adedeji
3 years ago

It’s not easy to be a child in an African home. With the high-handedness of parents and all. This guide says it all.

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