“Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”– Prov 22:15
Whenever I meet up with friends, we go down the route of nostalgia where there’s always one major thread that weaves us together: Parental discipline. No matter how different your lives were growing up in Nigeria, everyone has a horror story to recount on being at the receiving end of discipline because we thought we could get away with stuff.
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 dropping 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 how about those instances when you lied to you folks, and you thought you got away with it. Or so you thought until had dinner, watched TV, and you’re in bed, ‘safe‘ in the ignorant knowledge that you reckon 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, blocked all escape routes, and then proceed 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.
How about those classic moments when you embarrass your parents by taking gifts without their say so. You’ve just guaranteed yourself a world of pain. Or when you’ve done a crime so bad, that your dad tells you how he feels about the situation 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 Hamattan season.
Or how about infamous ‘Stoop down’? It’s a form of 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 positions for 5 minutes, and I can guarantee you a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
There were always different ways of being disciplined, and you just knew it was going to be painful. There were times you’d be ordered to go and “Get your friend… not de black one.. de brown one!!” (for the uninitiated, it meant the belt)
I can’t speak for everyone else, but 99% of the time, I did deserve the discipline. Yes, 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 recipient will turn out just nice. I mean, still look at the corruption coming out from various societies, despite the ‘tough love’. Irrespective, I’m still a great advocate for discipline. Not beating someone to a pulp, but whatever warrants the punishment.
Do you reckon that everything I recollected above could be 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?
Which is why I feel that The Nigerian and British Government should have an exchange programme of sorts where wayward kids in the UK spend a couple of months in Nigeria. Money back guarantee that it would work like a charm. Imagine a kid from London talking back or swearing….in Nigeria???? 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**)