Welcome to my page today and I am glad you are back with us in our journey to bring this unusual conversations to an end or close to an end.
Look at all I said about authority in the first part of this piece. They may be new to us but I bet that was not the first time we will read about the concept of authority. In fact we saw authority exercised when we were growing up and we are even an authority today either as a primary or secondary caregiver. You see, we are not ignorant about authority. But, if we are not able to analyse authority the way we did in our last piece we may just have been misinformed.
As I explained in my last piece, Ignorance comes with a form of humility but misinformation comes with a huge deposit of arrogance. Why? The premise of misinformation is an assumption that one knows what to do and therefore does not need any direction in the identified areas of engagement.
The challenge today is not that we are ignorant about our precious children and how to disciple them. The real challenge is that we are dealing with Misinformed Social Norm about who children are and how to relate with them. This Misinformed Social Norm is both deliberately or mistakenly perpetrated, depending on who is the author is.
Permit me to submit that our culture in Africa is not NECESSARILY anti-children, but it is not DELIBERATELY pro-children. Our disposition towards children gives more room to chance than being deliberate and submitting to a credible and verifiable plan of action, aimed at regulating our relationship with our precious children. There are hardly any established code of conducts in relating with our precious children and we do not consider developing same as a project to prioritise to be worthy of our resources of time, energy (mental and physical) and money. As far as we are concerned, as long as we have our say and our way, the children are fine. They are beings to be led by the nose, no more no less.
Unfortunately, this way of thinking about our precious children and the world around them has become very obsolete and useless. The question we must ask today is that where are the dividends of the culture, which puts her precious children down? I will shed light on this when I get into the very meat of this discussion?
The depth of the challenge we are dealing with in respect of our perception about children is further corroborated by Professor Sameer Hinduja of Florida Atlantic University, who I met in 2017, at the Europe, Middle East and Africa Child Safety Summit, organised by Google and Facebook, who said about our project, aimed at Securing A Friendly and Protective Environment for our precious children, which was one of the project showcased at the summit, ‘I applaud what you are doing and I agree with your perspective on African children…It is probably going to be hard to change such ensconced mentalities – just like in my home country of India, it’s very hard to change belief patterns because they are embedded in culture and also in religion.’ He concluded his observation with an encouragement, ‘BUT – someone has to try. Someone will make progress. It is time… So our efforts are never wasted – not even a bit.’
As I see it, I think the real challenge before us today is to deconstruct what we have hitherto believed about our precious children. This deconstruction must begin with how we see our precious children. Permit me to submit unequivocally, we treat children the way we see them and we see them the way we were seen growing up.
First in Africa, we hardly see children as reasoning being, with whom we can reason and communicate and teach how to reason and communicate by how we reason and communicate with them. We are yet to come to terms with the fact that a reasoning being learns and imbibe everything by reasoning and nothing by force.
When a reasoning being is approached with force, fear takes over and once fear takes over, the reasoning being withdraws any reasonable participation and becomes a passive participant. He/she withdraws but appear to carry out the instruction communicated by force. He/she becomes subdued while, the one applying force interpret that as submission.
Unknown to the one applying force, the child is only waiting for the day of emancipation. The child earnestly looks forward to the day when the balance of forces become mutual and the threats, which make the force being applied real are now fully or partially neutralised. For example, the child is now grown and can largely be in control of what the primary and secondary caregivers can know about him/her except he/she divulges same to them. It is important to note that the human spirit is not created to bow to any form of oppression. The truth is that once the human spirit senses oppression of any form, its number one mission becomes looking and working towards the day of emancipation. The foregoing is not different when it comes to our precious children.
It is this belief system that dictates the way we raise and claim to discipline our precious children today and we seems to draw our comfort from the fact that our counterparts in the developed world are paying dearly for how they raise/discipline their precious children.
From next week, I will examine our claim carefully and try to establish the efficacy or otherwise of same. I hope, I will be able to bring this treatise to an end next week and let you see the real definition of spoilt children.
Thank you for reading and do have an INSPIRED week.
I am Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUKWU’ AKINLAMI, The Preacher and I Speak for the Precious African Child.