“Parents listen to your children, we are the leaders of tomorrow. Try to pay our school fees and give us a sound education”
I still remember how my classmates and I sang the words of Tosin Jegede’s song as we marched to our classes after the usual morning assembly during my primary school days. How time flies! These days, I visit different homes to talk to parents and children as part of the assessment process for Fair Life Africa Foundation’s Disadvantage to Advantage Initiative.
Today, I couldn’t help ruminating on the event that had transpired during my session with Doris, a nine year old girl, who had been referred to us by the Head Master of her former school, as I returned back to the office. Doris had been given double promotion from her Basic Three Class and just recently passed her common entrance examinations to Secondary School in flying colours.
Doris’ dad is a Carpenter while her mum sells second hand clothes in a local market close to their residence. Fending for three children had been a constant struggle and the current economic situation means more hardship for a family who barely affords three square meals.
I find talking to children very exciting, especially in an environment where they feel comfortable to talk about themselves and issues bothering them. You never know what they might say or do. As they say different strokes for different folks. Some children can be reclusive, while others are far from shy as they would almost take over the assessment process. Doris has significant attributes of a gifted child but what seems profound is her highly inquisitive nature.
Doris: Emm…Aunty, please can I ask you a question?
Me: Of course you can. That’s why I’m here.
Doris: Are you sure?
Me: Trust me. You can go on with your question.
Doris: Ok…so what happened between 1939 and 1945?
Me: (Laughs) …Doris, I sincerely don’t know. I guess I would have to find out through Google on my phone. Why do you ask?
Doris: You see, whenever I visit Chinonso, her daddy will always be telling her mummy, (In a manly voice) “Hope you don’t want what happened between 1939 and 1945 to happen in this house?”. I’ve asked my mummy and she says she doesn’t know, while my daddy has refused to tell me…
Doris’ mum: …And you think your daddy knows?
Doris: Yes he knows… Ehen, Aunty another question.
Me: Yes go on
Doris: Why do adults always expect us children to obey them, and they don’t like listening to us the children?
Doris’ mum: (Cuts in) But Doris, you know that’s not true. Your dad and I listen to you and your brothers…
Doris: (With a surprised look on her face) Ah! Mummy! Don’t lie o…. Okay, Mummy…why do you and daddy tell us not to argue or fight and when you and daddy start your own argument, you people will not listen to us?
Doris’ mum: But Doris you know we’ve talked about this before and I explained that no human being is perfect, and me and your daddy would continue to work on our differences.
Doris: Okay…final question. Boko Haram, Niger Delta Militants and all these people fighting in different countries anytime we watch the news… When are they going to stop fighting? Why can’t we all live in peace?
These are but a few of the tough questions children ask these days, and you might agree with me that they are very observant of their immediate environment. Children are indeed the leaders of tomorrow, but the onus lies on us to teach them the right values and also do the right thing at all times, as those little eyes are watching to see if we actually practise what we preach. I believe the world can be a better place for all of us. Together we can achieve great things.
Written by Emeke Ndego