Childhood Memories: Growing up in an African House [The 22 Commandments]

African childhood

This Post was Inspired by our friend at – Kovie Biakolo

1. Your parents are basically Demi-gods.  They never admit that they made a mistake. Infact, They can’t make mistakes. Do not attempt to correct them. It doesn’t matter if you learned that the sky is blue. If your parents say the sky is orange, the sky is in fact, orange. My Dad once did my homework for me and i got a zero. He said my Teacher was Stupid. That she didn’t know what she was doing.

2. Your grandparents are the only people who can put your parents in their place. (And you will enjoy those moments.) So whenever you are getting spanked just run to grandma if she is around. (I did that a lot)

3. Your house is a free for all. At some point a relative, twice-removed, will be invited to stay for an extended-period of time. (At your expense because your room becomes his).  it was only meant to be for the weekend but this so-called uncle ends up staying for the whole year. And one day just like the way he came, you come back from school and he’s gone.

4. You will likely be raised the old-fashioned way -“you spare the rod, you spoil the child” kind of old-fashioned way. I used to wonder if my dad went to a parental training class for Spanking. Because boy he could Whip.  In your adulthood, you’ll largely be grateful for it and you’ll always be able to tell the difference between people who were raised the same way and people who were not.

5. If your parent has had a bad day, and they decide to take it out on you, don’t say anything. Infact say Sorry. Don’t walk away until they tell you to. don’t speak back until you are spoken to. Because at that point all it takes is one silly mistake and they will unleash their fury on you. Poor you.

6. The oldest child will be blamed for everything that the younger children do. After all you are supposed to be your brothers keeper.

7. If you cry while being accused of something, it is assumed that you are guilty. If you don’t show emotions then you are a hardened criminal. Its a no win situation for you

8. Your parents will call you from upstairs, downstairs, outside, etc., to hand them something that is literally 10 centimeters away from them. African dads do this a lot. they finish cooking, set their food in a plate and tray. walk into the living room. Sit down and ask you to get up, go into the kitchen and bring the food for him.

9. You will not leave your parents’ home without learning how to cook. Yes and learning to make Indomie doesn’t count.

10. Religious attendance and practice is not an option.

11. Everyone who is older than you is your “auntie” or “uncle.” Calling them by their first name is basically a crime against humanity and you also have to greet them by saying Good afternoon “auntie” or Good afternoon “Uncle”. You can’t say Hello. If you do, then you are a very disrespectful child for saying Hello instead of Good afternoon. tut tut tut.

12. You will probably never meet all of your extended family because there are just so many of them.

13. This one specifically applies to most Nigerians doing well in school is not an option and by doing well, parents have expectations that you will be the best at everything. Example: If you get a 98%, they might ask, “What happened to the other 2%?” If you get a B, your parents will likely ask, “The person who got an A, do they have three heads?” Just do well in school. And please if you are a boy, do not let a girl get a higher grade than you. Just don’t okay.

14. Your friends better greet your parents first when they see them or that friendship is pretty much over. R-E-S-P-E-C-T is H-U-G-E. African Parents are pretty judgmental you see. Your friend can be labelled a bad influence within a blink of an eye.

15. Being in a serious relationship with anyone when you’re in your teens is unheard of. That person is simply your friend and nothing more.

16. You will still be expected to have a traditional engagement/marriage regardless of where the person you’re marrying is from. (Have fun explaining the details of that to all your significant others!)

17. Your parents will talk to you in a lot of proverbs and metaphors. Grandparents are a lot worse.  For example, when I was 12, I spent half a day trying to figure out what my Grand-dad meant when he said, “What the old man can see whilst sitting down, the young man cannot see whilst standing” I eventually got it.

18. Your siblings will be the first people to bully the crap out of you. Later on, you’ll realize that they were preparing you for a big bad world out there.

19. If your entire full name is being called, and your native language is also being spoken, the day shall not pass without tears.

20. Your Parents will compare you to other children who seem to be doing well. Asking you why you can’t be more like that kid.

21. Asking for Money is a Painful process. Because after being interrogated on why you need the money,  you have to listen to the story of how your dad walked 10miles to school every day and how he saved up his money. Then he ends up giving you 1/5th of what you asked for. “Manage it”

22. You won’t realize how incredibly hilarious and somewhat bizarre your upbringing was until you reach adulthood. And you’ll burst out into tears of laughter when you’re sitting next to an African woman who is telling her child who probably just got a B, “So the person who got an A, do they have three heads?” Hang in there kid, they secretly boast that they have the best children ever, just not to your face.


Comments are welcome, share your experiences.

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