The African Parent

I wrote this sometime in 2018, and I had to put it up as my first blog post, not for lack of inspiration or content, but in the words of some of my favorite Hip Hop artists, this is probably the realest shit I ever wrote. 😁

I’ve had Royce Da 5’9″‘s Book Of Ryan in heavy rotation recently, and I am so ashamed that I had to wait till the tail end of 2018 to bump to a project that dropped earlier in the year. 😭😭 But I do that all the time, and would probably so yet again. 😁 So with my right hand on my chest, and my left in my drawers 😁 I can confidently say that this is the best rap album in all of 2018(Tongue out to my man Drake😝).On Book Of Ryan, Royce Da 5’9″ delves into never before uncharted territory talking about childhood, growing up, alcohol and drug abuse, troubles with the law, parenting and parenthood and many issues bordering around family and familial ties. On a particular interlude, in the form of an interview he’s asked about his views on his father as a good parent, and instead of throwing him under the bus, he decided to cut him some slack, mostly choosing to dwell on the positives, all on the basis of an informed opinion as an adult now. Last week, I had a very interesting conversation with someone on Twitter (something that’s very rare nowadays 😁), and it was enlightening and really beautiful, as all conversations where a differing opinion is not discredited are. We talked about parenting. Parenting in the African context. It’s very common to come online and see posts that go on about African parents this, African parents that. And to be fair, most of these posts are downright funny. Lol. But some on closer inspection are just bland and reek of insensitivity. Insensitivity that comes with unfurling. Insensitivity to a host of issues. Insensitivity to the ups and downs of family. Insensitivity to parenting.

Parenting is hard. 😭But we no dey gree.

So we’d rather blame our shortcomings on our parents just because…

I know kids from my engineering class that wrote such good poetry that’d make Wordsworth pee his pants. 😁 Lol. I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just saying. But I’m sure y’all know what I mean. I know people that should be writing anime, manga, even directing Marvel and DC Comics films, making music, even taking up professional athletics or coaching, but they all studied electrical engineering. Lol. And those ones that should have given Gordon Ramsay a run for his money studied Botany. 😁I swear I’m not laughing. Your parents would rather you study medicine, law, engineering, accounting or anything that sounds big, ‘professional’ or brings in money, but not because they doubt you, but rather out of love. Love that is tempered and peppered with fear. Fear of failure. Financial insecurity. And every other thing that comes with career failings.

The truth is, it’s not like they can’t support your choice or don’t trust you, but they’d rather you show them the viability of whatever it is you’re proposing. And if you can’t? Brrrr!!!

Yet in all of these we miss something critical. Ever wondered what your parents would be like or how their lives would turn out if they had everything you have today at their disposal while growing up. A university education, social media, travel, people’s experience to tap into, books on virtually every living topic, a vast array of information that is ever changing, and constantly being upgraded.Today you have role models you’ve never met. Music stars, athletes, businessmen and women, actors, fictional characters from books and movies, authors, public and motivational speakers, government leaders and captains of industry, the girl you used to sit behind in secondary school or the boy who made you perk up academically in primary two.

What did your parents have?

The ignorance of youth, societal pressure and growth expectations, adjusting to colonial and post colonial lifestyles, poverty, interrupted schooling, some managed and saw themselves through school, and in the worst case scenario, some have had to live with the debilitating effects of illiteracy, an age old system of beliefs, unshaken and unproven, and having older people who didn’t even know any better as role models to look up to. Some of your fathers had to be the man at a very early age. Some of your mothers were married off, most times without their consent, to strapping young men whose only qualification was being old enough to get married, or just that they were supposed to. No brownie points for being ready psychologically for marriage. Because they weren’t. And then you had religion that was unshakeable, and impenetrable to meaningful questions. Questions we ask with reckless abandon nowadays. As much as age old wisdom has stood the test of time, even the advice they were given by peers, older ones and the people around them still remains up for debate. The story of a blind man leading a blind man or a one eyed man being the king in the land of the blind.Maybe your dad isn’t stubborn. He just doesn’t know, or he doesn’t understand, or he’s just unconvinced. Just maybe.You can come under this post to outline how nothing has changed. How we still grapple with the same issues stated above today, and in so doing you’d most likely forget how much we have today, in terms of choices. You might even complain about the problem of so many choices. Lol. You have every right to complain about the parents who had opportunities but still managed to waste them, and guess what? You won’t be wrong either. You won’t even be wrong if you complain about our potentials that are been held back by government and limiting societies. Nothing would be any truer.This is not a post in praise of bad parenting or extolling the virtues of deadbeat, uncaring and even evil parents. I’m not asking you to cut unnecessary slack. It’s just a post about the beauty of perspective, reconciliation and forgiveness. And in so doing, I forgive my African parents, 😁 whose biggest mistake was being African.

The bottom line is we’ve been given a great privilege to be here this time. The opportunity to be at and the new frontier in everything about our world today. So instead of complaining about the cards we’ve been dealt in life through our parents, we should be working out ways to manage this delicate opportunity, knowing that however we go about that will produce ripples that will spill over into the next generations.We could go on and on about who was raised right or not, or fight over the best approach to raising kids. But never forget that there’s no one rule fits all for raising children. What worked for you and your parents might have never worked for me and mine. Even twin children follow diverging paths through life despite being brought the same way by even the same parents.Today we can conveniently discuss deeply polarizing issues like cohabitation, teenage pregnancy, birth control and family planning, career choices, relations and relationships, trust issues and fidelity. Issues that are under heavy scrutiny. These were usually underlying issues that were brushed off back in the day with heartbreaking firmness and finality, but today? We question everything.And thankfully, nothing will ever be the same, both for good, and for bad.

Thanks for coming to my Ted talk. 😁I needed this carthasis. 😌

Uche Okoro

Writer. Sales & Marketing. Business & Investing Afficionado.

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