A Generation that serves two Masters -by Adewole Lateef

“Omo ti a o ko, ni yio gbele ti a ko ta”

This post is authored by my very good friend Adeole Lateef

This Thursday 11th of March, 2021, was the World Kidney Day. This year’s theme is: “Living Well with Kidney Disease”. I watched several programmes where experts were interviewed. They elaborated on how important the organ is in human bodies and how it performs numerous functions for human survival. Also, what individuals need to do in taking care of it, formed a crucial part of the enlightenments.
 
These include; lifestyles, the kind of foods we eat, drinking habit, not just alcohols, even water. Smoking, excercise, and so on. The fact that the cases of kidney problems have been on the increase was highlighted, even among young ones and what the causes could be. Majorly, the lifestyles of people summarise the causes. Then, I thought of all the recommended preventive ways and found them to be what we were used to as children. But unfortunately, most of us have abandoned them.
 
I belong to a generation which I once categorised as the third generation of people alive in Nigeria today. The first being in their 75 years and above. Second in 60 to 75 years. Third from 40 to 59 years. Fourth, less than 40 years. Many in the first and second are either in retirement or less active service. The third is where I belong. And this is a generation I referred to as the one that “serves two masters”. Who are these our masters? Our parents, many of whom will be in the first or second generation if they are still alive and our own children, who are in the fourth generation downward.
 
As youths, our lifestyles, which have now changed, were in synchronism with all that are needed to be healthy. We were active in all ramifications. We needed not to be recommended for any excercise because our entire daily routine is full of activities that are sporty in nature.
 
Firstly, our parents wouldn’t allow us to oversleep. We have to wake up early to do our assigned and compulsory morning chores of sweeping, cleaning, cooking, fetch water, washing dishes and so on, before we ever stepped out to go to school. Some children may even have to do early morning hawking for their parents. This was where they get a little change to take to schools for feeding.
 
Then, we trekked distances to our schools. This may be many kilometres, depending on the locations. On getting to our schools, we do our school morning duties of sweeping the classrooms, the school compound, and washing the toilets. Now and then, when grasses are grown, we were assigned portions to cut. Everyone had their cutlasses and hoes brought from home or submitted to the school authority from the start of an academic session. We were allocated farmlands as our individual gardens where we did farming, planted different crops like yams, cassavas, maize, vegetables, pepper, etc.
 
The academics was rigorous, not “pampering” as we have in many schools today. There were sport periods when student trooped out to engage in their chosen sporting activities. At break times, boys played footballs. Girls do their own things, even inside hot afternoon. We trekked same distances back home at the closing in the burning sun.
 
All these did not excuse us from the chores awaiting us at home as assigned by our parents. One was hawking. Others included going to sell in shops in the market, for those whose parents had shops or could afford shops in markets. Others may be in the neighbourhood. There are many others who had to go to farm the same afternoon after school. Their parents would already be expecting them. As the night fell, another round of house chores like in the morning awaited us.
 
It was only after then that we had the opportunity to play. For those who had the “black and white box” we called television, they gathered to watch programmes like televison series, soap opera and News. Played under the moonlight and the rest. We slept at appropriate time. No late night activities like watching cartoons or pressing phones, except reading our books. This was a typical routine. We knew how important education was, how critical it was to read to pass our exams and the negative implications of failing in schools. Students and parents looked forward to receiving the examination results at the end of each term.
 
Everyone dreaded that day, except ofcourse, those really brilliant students. The worse was the end of session promotional examinations. They were like the day of judgement. This was because each student’s fate of moving to higher class or repeating the class all over, would be known on that day. We wrote our examinations by ourselves. We obtained JAMB and went for the exams. We made choices of courses and schools based on our capacities and interests, with little or no guide from any mentor, especially those whose parents were illiterates.
 
In spite of all of these, we turned out well. Those who proceeded to higher schools became Engineers, doctors, accountants, lawyers, teachers / lecturers, and so on. We “battled” for employment and got jobs, not because we knew people or had “connections”. It was through competitive and rigorous processes. We started work, began to support our parents by taking responsibility for our siblings for those who have. We became the “bread winners” as we grew older, relieving our parents. We served and still serving them diligently till date.
 
Sadly, the same us, who had gone through all of these, turned ourselves to “slaves” for our own children. After serving our parents, we are now serving our children, in the name of “loving and taking care” of them. When I studied how many young people in my generation are raising their kids, my heart broke. While they often erroneously thought they are “making” the children, they are actually “breaking” them. When they thought they are building them up, they are actually destroying them. We all know. We all see it. But we pretend all is well. But, I will highlight some instances.
 
From the moment many of us gave birth to our children, we made them our “object of worship”, as if our lives depended on them. We go out our ways to spend so much money, sometimes, money that we do not have, on them. As they began to grow up to start schools, we want to give them the “best” education. We put them in schools often beyond our incomes. We want to “belong”.
 
We impressed it on our children’s school teachers and management to help us “pamper” our kids, whether explicitly by asking for this favour or subtly by being “over-nice” to them, giving them gifts, money and the rest. They feel indebted to us and reciprocated by doting on our kids.
 
As they continue to grow up, we do not allow them to do any house chores. Some have one, two or more “househelps” who do all the works. Our kids sleep for long hours and wake up later after all the chores have been done. They manage to bath by themselves when they are old enough. We or the househelps dress for them and we take them to schools after taking their breakfasts, in plates they would leave for the helps to clear and wash for them.
 
Rarely do many children trek to schools any longer, even where the schools are stone throw from the house. We drive them in our cars (for those who have) or take transport. They do no morning duties in schools as well. There are enough cleaners and workers who the schools employ to do all that. We paid for them with the outrageous school fees that many schools charge. Teachers treat students like “breakables”. They dare not discipline them. Otherwise, they will run into big trouble with us.
 
I have heard of many encounters where parents slapped teachers publicly in the presence of their kids and other students for disciplining their children for their misdemeanours. What message were such parents passing to their wards? That they are “untouchable” and can do and behave as they wish? This has made many schools and teachers to be extra careful as many have lost their jobs in the process.
 
Who helps them in their school assignments? The parents ofcourse. Before their returns from schools, their foods would have been prepared. They come back, eat and watch television, press their phones or those of their parents or play games. The parents have to force them before they do their assignments, not to talk of studying independently on their own. Many parents practically do their kids’ school assignments for them. Where they could not, they engaged home teachers to do so.
 
In many homes today, our children spend hours in front of the television while their mothers or househelps suffer in the kitchen preparing what they will eat. When the exams come, we almost help them do same exams. Our “goodwills” to our children’s teachers make them find it difficult to give results which reflect the true performances of our children whenever they did poorly in their academics. Afterall, “one good turn, deserves another”.
 
In most of our private schools now, no student fails. They allocate “excellent” marks to them and continue to push them till final year. When it’s time for final year examinations, many schools “take care” of that, with parents paying abnormally higher amount for WAEC. The schools will “pari ise”. Same applies to JAMB. This is responsible for the preponderance of “examination special centres”, cover name for “cheating centres”. Parents are the ones who take their children there to register them now. I often wondered why then did we pay school fees for six years of secondary education then, if we still have to help our kids cheat in their exams. There was a case where it was even the father who sat for his child’s JAMB exams. That’s the level we have degenerated to.
 
Parents pay through their noses to secure admissions for their children, some may be due to the fraud that have taken over the admission processes in most schools now. When such students get to higher institutions and they could not cope, they bribe their ways through the schools, sometimes, with the support of their parents. Boys pay lecturers, girls sleep with them, just to pass. After wobbling and fumbling, graduating finally, they go for NYSC, and need to work thereafter. They return to become liabilities to the same parents who had gone through all that were mentioned above. The parents will have to look for jobs for them, especially when they are incompetent.
 
This also informed the involvement of many parents in fraud, embezzlement of public or private funds, stealing at work, etc, with the mindset of providing for all of these and keeping excess for their children’s future, many of whom are irresponsible. We see them everyday in our society. And our political leaders are the biggest culprits in this regard. Many of these kids never experienced the difficulties of life as their parents bear all that on their behalf. This explains how many of them turned out or may turn out if not checked.
 
Many of us still have young kids in schools. It’s never too late to make amends. While it’s not abnormal to take care of one’s children and give them very good lives, the place of discipline and training should never be forgotten. Like the Yorubas will say: “omo ti a o ko, ni yio gbele ti a ko ta”. All that were highlighted above could still be corrected if we have the will to do the right things. What we do in these regards will be to the benefits of our children and us too. A stich in time, saves nines.
 
Allowing our children to take responsibility for what they do will prepare them for the real life. We should make them grow to appreciate the places of hardworking, success and failure in life, and be prepared for both. Cases of children’s suicide went up in the past few years because we now have children who are so meek and grow to be “weaklings”, such that, once they face little difficulties now, they give up easily and prefer to kill themselves. This was caused by the way we are raising them, doing everything for them. That wouldn’t happen to my generation majorly. We be “roku”.
 
Not all of us are guilty of what I wrote in this article. There are those who already have a handle on this but majority are. I am also a culprit in some aspects. We only need to deliberately change our ways where we are doing wrong and improve on where we are doing right.
 
May Almighty God continue to guide us aright and give us wisdom in raising our kids.
 
God Bless Us All.
 
You can follow me on:
Twitter: @lateef_adewole
Facebook: Lateef Adewole.

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