Prov 22:15: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Whenever I meet up with friends, we go down the route of nostalgia and there is one major thread that weaves us together: Parental discipline. No matter how different your lives were growing up, everyone has a horror story to recount on being on the receiving end of discipline because we thought we could get away with stuff…and then some.
Now, what would constitute as a crime to warrant discipline, Nigerian style? Well, it depends. One well known misdemeanour is talking back to your Elders. That’s a Golden No-No. As a matter of fact, that’s not even an option. You open your mouth to argue, and I don’t care how liberal your Nigerian parent is, but the last thing you’ll see is a blurred callous hand about to drop a heavy payload of backhand slap to your mouth. “Eh?!! I am talking and you have the audacity to talk back at me?? Ahh.. “
Or when you lie to you folks, and you thought you got away with it. Or so you thought. You had your dinner, watched TV, and you go to bed, ‘safe’ in the knowledge that you’ve pulled a fast one on your folks. Hah! Foolish mortal!! While you’re busy sleeping, your parents, the stealth commandos, have made their way into your room, locked the door, and begin to lay down a barrage of whackings in your still slumbered state. And with each hit is a well choreographed line that sync’s as one : “WHY-(WHACK!)-WERE-(WHACK!!) YOU (WHACK!!) LYING??? HEH!! DON’T -(WHACK!) DO-(WHACK!) THAT!!.. and so on and so forth.
Or those classic moments when you embarrass your parents by taking gifts without their say so. You’ve just booked yourself into a world of pain. Or when you’ve done a crime so bad, that your dad tells you how he feels before he pounces on you: “Ah!! O ni paami!! (“You will not kill me!”) “Mi o pa baaba mi, e wo na o ni pa mi ki asiko mi to!!” (“I did not kill my father, and you will not do so before my time!!”)
There’s a huge range of ‘tool’s that are normally at a parent’s disposal. It could be the cat of 9 lives, or commonly known as ‘Koboko‘. Or The ‘Pankere‘, which was a small, thin, but highly flexible dry bamboo stick. Worst time to have that hit you was during the harmattan season.
Or how about infamous ‘Stoop down’? Its a punishing torture where you have to balance on one leg, and then stoop your whole body down and hold yourself with your index finger. Try staying at that angle without changing over for 5 minutes, and I can guarantee you a place in the Guinness Book of Records. Whoever dreamed up that torture must have had spare time on his hands.
There were always different ways of being disciplined, and you just knew it was going to be painful. You could either be ordered to go and “Get your friend… not de black one.. de brown one!!” (for the uninitiated, it means the belt)
I can’t speak for everyone else, but 99% of the time, I did deserve the discipline. I was wayward, rebellious, and I thought I knew it all. There were some very abusive parents who would use the guise of discipline to take their frustrations out on their kids. Yet, the question stands: Should we spare the Rod?? Even using the Rod at times still does not ensure that the reciepent will turn out just nice. I mean, take a look at the corruption coming out from Nigeria from every tier possible.
Irrespective, I’m still a great advocate for discipline. Not beating someone to a pulp, but whatever warrents the punishment.
Picture, if you will, this scenario: everything I’ve recollected above was common practise in today’s PC’d civilised & liberalised UK? Nahhh.. Can’t happen. Today’s kids’ know their ‘Rights’, would call Child Services, and can even sue for emotional stress. Think about it: why did some of your African friends leave the UK when they reached the age of 8, and never came back until adulthood? Something to think about….
Which is why I feel that The Nigerian and British Government should have a programme where wayward kids in the UK spend a couple of months in Nigeria. Money back guareentee that it would work like a charm. Imagine a kid from London talking back or swearing….in Nigeria???? Come on.. visualise it….
(**This blog was written from personal experience and recollections from friends who grew up in Nigeria. Not every African parent can be stereotyped based on what i have written**)