We would literally have kept this within our landlocked Uganda but having exchanged a few stories with other residents from the great African continent I quickly realized that the tales from our homes are abit similar even with our different demographics hence the broadening of the spectrum.
So it’s graduation week in Uganda right now and this got me thinking of how great it would be to talk about How the Education acquiring experience is in an African home so buckle up.
Childhoods in African households are pretty much mapped out by attending school where you seriously face your books during the week and attend church on Sunday. You are pretty much expected to be the best and most displined student but this still won’t save you from getting punished for not doing better than what you are already bringing to the table or just for not living up to your parents outrageous expectations for example you could have 96% in mathematics but you will still get questioned about where the 4% is and why you didn’t get it too. Coming in second best in class is not enough and just be ready for the inquiries about the person who managed to get the first position in the class and if he/she has three heads or if both of you don’t attend the same class. And this inquisition is always followed by a lamentation of how ungrateful you are of the opportunity they are according you as well as a day dream like narration of all the things they could have accomplished if they were the ones blessed enough to be equipped with half of the resources you possess. You will be reminded of how easy you have it in comparison to their time in school. This would be followed with stories of how they had to wake so early everyday and walk long distances to fetch water for their parents before they went on a cross country journey just to get to school and how they still managed to be the best in their class despite all the challenges🤦🏾♀️.
Any slight backsliding in your academic performance and your parents are already convinced that you are turning into a criminal <same goes for if you show any interest in anything they don’t consider worthy or respectable enough for the child to be partaking in>
Then this brings to the life long battle that is choosing a career to pursue and when it comes to this, the expectations in an African household are pretty much traditional and straight forward. A few careers such as law, engineering and medicine are perceived to be better than others (choreography, acting, music, fashion designing or anything in the arts and creative industry because this is a very hopeless field to them). A mention or slight show of interest in any of this area will be quickly shut down because they are not real jobs. Everyone that knows African parents knows that they are all about and the ability to speak proudly and confidently about their children when conversing with their friends, colleagues as well as other members so them being able to confidently talk about you being a lawyer or a doctor is much easier than them trying to support your new career venture. Much as this is their mentality, you should not be discouraged to step out of the box and pursue what you are really passionate about because once the money starts coming in and you can take care of them, all the fussing will be gone with the wind. In simple terms they prefer the traditional careers because to them these seem more secure and a somewhat guarantee that you won’t end up poor or homeless. All in all they are just worried and scared of the unknown.
So my version of growing up African…
I loooved everything foreign that is American or European. As long as it wasn’t African, Ugandan mostly…then it was cool. Tbh so did many of my friends. We abhorred speaking our local languages, finding it “local”. When I further analysed this though, I realized this shame stemmed all the way from school where speaking anything non English a.k.a vernacular resulted in absurd punishments like wearing a sack the whole day…I mean what was that about? Even the kind of music we drifted to….like I’d know the entire lyrics to a Beyonce song and be clueless about those in my mother tongue resulting in being referred to as “cool” and we all know how when growing up that’s all you wanted to be…hence an endless cycle of evolving in everything foreign but my culture. Our people’s ways became the outlier, a tragedy realized as I grew up.
So what have I learnt thus far….my culture is rich, beautiful and different and I cannot believe it took me this long. I looove melanin skin (seriously cannot believe it’s not everyone ‘s envy yet) plus this kinky hair craze going on, I’ve never been more in love with my once impossible-to-comb hair. Not that I dislike anything non African, I’ve just reached a balance where my taste is independent of origin where my kinda cool is just based on preference for example I love myself a good Jeffery Archer novel but Chimamanda Ngozi, there’s just something about her literature that reminds me of home. I have found the best of both worlds a fine in between, a deep love for everything home and an appreciation for the rest. I am still exploring, still learning and still growing up African.
I think it’s so weird that I’ve never really felt bad that I was born African. I don’t mean that I have not admired other cultures, but wishing I was born of a different culture is not something I’ve indulged in. I guess its because I’ve lived a good life and I cannot complain. Well lets dive into my feelings about this title more:
This is how I’ve always looked at life; We are all human beings, all with the capability of achieving whatever we set our minds too. This fact does not rule out whether you are black, white, asian, or even brown. As a child, color didn’t mean anything until I started learning about racism.
Growing up African wasn’t always easy for me though hehe. The fear of parents was way too much. I recall dad would come back home from work and we (my siblings and I) would all clear out of the living room and go hide in our bedrooms. I feel like we missed out on having a closer relationship with our parents because of the fear of punishment heheh. The punishment here was real! That’s something I wish I had earlier even though after the third child is born, Parents become so chilled out and the punishment disappears. It’s therefore hard out here growing up the first born of an African 😅. I guess the fear was our kind respect but oh well! I wish that could be changed a bit
Growing up African, I also had the opportunity to travel to different countries and have a taste of what’s out there. And guess what I fell in love with some aspects out there. I mean I love so many things about the African culture most especially the music and the dancing. That’s just definitely the aspect i love the most! The Arts are way ahead here. However when it comes to Innovation, Engineering, Planning and many other aspects, which are things that I really love Africa is way behind. I’m really hoping my career prospects will be beneficial and influential to the development of those aspects of Africa.
I guess a little exposure has led to me live while to merging a variety of cultures. This pop-culture is all about what’s new, what’s aesthetic and also living a good Absolute Fun Quality Of life without changing all the fundamental amazing qualities of the African Culture that I’ve grown up in.
Any thoughts and experiences on growing up African? Leave us a comment below this post.