Growing up in Nigeria is one of the hardest things to do. The stress you face from parents, teachers, neighbours/landlords are enough to validate the “I work best under pressure” line found in most CVs and heard in most interview rooms.
It’s been fondly said that if one can grow up and survive Nigeria, he/she can survive anywhere in the world.
Now the following list of things may not apply only to Nigeria, so I want you to share your own experiences while growing – whether I list them here or not.
Having to decipher what one facial expression means
Your mum probably had that one facial expression that meant stand up, sit down, greet your uncle, kneel down and greet, prostrate, don’t collect it, collect it (sometimes don’t collect it and collect it at once), go an play with your friends, sit down where you are e.t.c.
Just one facial expression! The funny thing was that after one or two times we misrepresent that facial expression, we somehow understand it the next time. Like you judge from the abara (don’t worry, someone will explain this in the comment section), or ear pulling you received the last time, and the circumstances surrounding the facial expression to know what to do or what not to do.
Imagine you go to a family friend’s place, you meet the man eating and he says, Segun, come and take meat. You look at your mum, she wanted to shake her head left and right (which is telling you not to do it), then the man looks her and she says, “go and collect it na”. You stand up to go and she clears her throat. My dear abort!!
If someone had told us to maintain status quo in such situations, we’d have prevented the factory reset slap we received at home.
These guys practically controlled your life. Like they decide when you are happy and when you are sad. A sanguine personality becomes melancholic the moment NEPA takes the light (if you like call it interrupts power) in the middle of Superstory.
The worst experience will be when NEPA takes the light and you stand up to put on the lantern only for you to hit the akpoti (short stool) by the corner, with your shin! At that moment, every fibre of your being is on fire. The emotions of anger, pain, disgust, fear, vengeance, aggression, and depression come alive at once.
When your parents begin to report you to a relative
I don’t understand. Are you not the one that is supposed to train me? When an uncle comes visiting, that’s when your mom will remember that there was a day you washed the plates and left one pot because the eba stuck to its sides; or that you did not use ash/sand to wash the charcoal off the sides of the pot.
Waiting for church to close
Sunday service is good because you are in children’s church and it’s kind of fun… except you had a teacher that is the replica of that one teacher in school (Uncle Henry in primary school and Mr Martins and Mr Badmus in secondary school for me) in terms of flogging.
Midweek service is just plain stressing. Like you have not even recovered from the stress of washing plate and doing homework and your mom is already telling you to go and put on good trousers for service.
You say to yourself. “Well it’s just a one hour service”. No way! When everything is going as planned, that’s when you’ll hear “Two more prayer points”. Till date, I find it difficult to trust whoever says that. I’ve been let down so many times. Two prayer points will have branches that will just last for almost 30 minutes. You find the service closing by 8.45PM on a Thursday – Super Story day!
When your parents borrow from you
Gosh! My mum owes me N80. Twenty Naira notes in four pieces! An uncle who was working in CBN had given me at a ceremony and she offered to “hold it” for me. It’s still with her. I gave up asking for it the day she told me she had used it to buy my Christmas Cloth.
Their classic reply was always: “all the food you have been eaten in this house since you were born who has been paying for it?” Edakun! Are you not the one that did what you did to bring me into this world?
One day someone got angry at his mother, removed all the things he was wearing – from cap to undies – and told his mother “take everything oh, take everything you bought for me. Now give me my money. Abi are you the owner of my body?”
When your Christmas cloth is not ready by November, there’s an 87% chance that your report sheet will be filled with scores written in red ink. How can you cope when Chiamaka is always showing you the ball gown she’s putting on for Christmas and you have not even seen your mother bring home Okrika jeans? (They last longer tho’ #FactsOnly).
The painful part is that this homework thing is still a stressor after many decades.
Well, someone still went back to The Rock after being there 84 – 85.
Monday to Thursday homework were not really a problem; you could quickly do it yourself during school hours or when you get home. You could also show you parents, older ones, or neighbours. But weekend or midterm break homework? Those ones can kill you! The painful part is that some of us tend to procrastinate it such that we remember Sunday night in the middle of your anger that the next day is school day.
Buying the cane they’ll flog you with
Some people cannot relate to this sha, but for those who can you know the feeling right? It’s like signing your death warrant. You go to the shop where there are several canes tied together to form what looks like the stem of an ebelebo tree and don’t know the kind you want to pick. Long or short, fat or thing, the one with scattered or intact shrubs.
Imagine going to pick the cane your teacher intends to use to peel your skin? Sometimes we had to test to see if it’ll be painful. We suffer sha! No be small matter.
What about the home front? Whenever my former neighbour tells her children “Lo mu igi wa” (meaning go and bring cane, or literally stick), it’s like a judge telling an accused person “You are hereby sentenced to death”.
I had a neighbour whose mother flogged him on Christmas Day! No jokes. After the thrashing, the dad called him to one corner and started advising him: “See now, you are the only child whose mother flogged him on Christmas Day because of his behaviour. You have to change, to obey your mother at all times.
So make sure next Christmas you don’t get flogged.”
It was really funny. Another neighbour who sold plantain uses the stem on her children. This one is very bad. These children eventually became immune to these things such that after sometime, they knowingly do wrong because they can take the punishment when caught. Not a good thing. There are other ways to discipline a child… but African parents are not for those ways though. “This is the way I was trained, that is the way I’ll train you. A child that says his mother will not rest, him too will not rest.”
It’s funny how we have not yet escaped some of these things. Like, I can bet my kidney that your mum still gives you that one facial expression that means so much.
Or is it how you think you are free from homework only to discover that you carry homework from your office everyday? Or how having to live with your kids is actually homework. Add that to the fact that you are their homework teacher.
Or how mothers still remind us that they carried us in their wombs for 9 months, and how we always made them eat more than enough because “we were sucking their blood” while in their wombs or during our breastfeeding stages. The worst is when they do this over WhatsApp after you have consistently ignored the BCs about world ending September 23rd.
This adulting is a scam abeg! We thought we’d be free from all these but na lie! They still haunt us down. Then add that to the bills you have to pay, the needs of the dependent population under your care and having to be committed to “the love of your life (or not)” in one corner.
I am tired abeg! See how I’m sweating.
What are some of the things you survived as a child growing up in Nigeria?
Photo Credit: Dreamstime