In the west everyone has the right to do whatever the fuck they want except violate someone else’s right. Everyone has inalienable rights they are born with – and these include the right to love, life, happiness, family, education, health, housing etc etc etc.
In my corner of Africa from the moment you are born you have to earn the privilege to breathe. Babies were not considered innocent helpless little people. They had agency and all the malicious behaviour of adults.
Baby is born and doesn’t take its first breathe? It didn’t want to stay. It wanted to punish its mother.
There was no sympathy spared for obanje children that put their mothers through grief again and again. Evil child. Or twins, you want to suck the woman to death? Evil children. Teeth in new born? Evil child. Your right to breathe was summarily terminated.
Now the thing about privilege it that it usually means you owe someone – your village, your family, your father, your mother. Everybody who was here on earth before you even if by only a day or a few hours had more rights, more power and more status than you. You were not indulged.
You owed your mother the most. For one she didn’t squeeze your scrawny little neck when you were born. Women that birthed dead babies were evil too. They did it on purpose you know.
Your mother could have gone away and left you. Back in those days custody always stayed with the man that paid the bride price. Even if the children were not his biologically. The woman that left was the Evil One.
Back in those days not having a mother was bad. Really really bad. A child without a mother was completely vulnerable. Before Christianity the majority of my brethren did not tend to kindness towards the vulnerable. The vulnerable became slaves or worse – sacrifices.
It’s still hell for the vulnerable today. And sometimes its your mother that sends you there. These women will not take your shit. They will remind you they suckled you and made sure you survived. You owe ME!
You owed your father too because he paid your school fees. Do you know how many fathers refuse to pay school fees? You can’t make him. Neither can your mother. She probably had to fuck him real good each time you went back to school to put him in a good mood.
If your father was stingy all the time maybe it was the sex, or lack of it. Can you imagine? Your mother might have had to behave like a common whore to put you through school.
Despite this he will expect and insist with varying amounts of deference and courtesy that you support him in his old age. Far be it from me to tell you what to do when that times comes. May each man and woman handle it as they see fit. Whatever you can live with.
Besides its a privilege that he is still alive to bless you because in my corner of Africa we believe that white hair confers special powers – just like motherhood and fatherhood and brotherhood.
The worse thing that could happen is that one of your parents curse you before they die. Ah! People have been known to kill many animals to propitiate the dead who can still influence the living from beyond the grave through our DNA. Didn’t you know?
As the elders said in Things Fall Apart, if a child washed his hands he could eat with kings. You earned the privilege, no one gave you anything on a platter and no one owed a child a damn thing.
I wouldn’t advocate tossing babies in the bush or any of the harsher outcomes of our beliefs about children but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Unearned privilege seems to be creating some pretty spoilt kids my grand father would say.
As an African woman I am scandalised to see some children in the west treated like the centre of the Universe and become petty tyrants. That is exactly what my grand father warned us about. That is exactly why he counselled to have many children and avoid the tyranny of the single child.
At the same time the oyibo in me is scandalised to see African children treated like chattels even in the most educated and prosperous homes. Somewhere on a spectrum between us and the rest, between right and privilege, is reality and also nirvana.
May you find yours.
To Be Continued….