A good man, leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. It’s what the good book says. Unfortunately in our part of the world, especially in Nigeria, it rarely happens. A man cannot even put food on his own table, let alone leave an inheritance for his children. Perhaps we can blame it on poverty, but that’s besides the point. Truth is even if he had enough, the average African believes he should be taken care of by his children in old age. It’s like a right earned.
The Nigerian culture is a jeun omo type. It oddly translates directly in Yoruba to eating child, but more like eating the fruits of your labour over your child. Unfortunately many take this directly, literally eating the child till theres nothing left, then calling said child irresponsible afterwards. Let me just burst your bubble right here and now. YOU DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS TO YOUR CHILDREN’S WEALTH, LITTLE OR GREAT. Even all your sleepless nights and daily sacrifice does not give you rights.
I am writing this for the people in my own generation, who I have observed seem to always rant about this on social media, so that we can possibly start taking steps to making sure that this type of practice doesn’t continue with us. Now don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely ok for children to support their parents especially in old age. The key word their though is SUPPORT.
While it is good that you make sacrifices for your children daily, the reason or the end game should never be because you are preparing them to be your retirement source. That in my opinion is evil. Send your children to school because it is right. Take care and provide for them because it is right. After all they didn’t beg to be born. So it is your duty to take care of them in whatever way that you can afford to. If you can’t leave them a physical inheritance, atleast don’t plan to be a burden in their future. The truth is that no child can ever repay all the sacrifices of a parent. In the same vein, no well brought up child will watch his or her parents age disgracefully.
Someone tweeted at me recently about a man struggling to make ends meet, expecting a baby. Man’s father is taxing him monthly for money to complete his house in the village. This, my people is witchcraft. Why would you build your house at your child’s expense? At the point when he’s expecting a child, in an economy like the Nigerian one. Why? I don’t know where we get off with some of the things we call our tradition or ways but honestly many need to be refined and if possible done away with. Take Omuguor of the igbo tradition for instance, I hear some mothers don’t visit after the arrival of a baby until a certain amount has first been paid and gifts given by the husband and wife. Some fight or refuse to leave if they don’t get as much as they were expecting to get. So omuguor is now a money making venture. I thought coming to help in taking care of your grandchild was a sign of love?
Then we wonder why some children are not on speaking terms with their parents. How can you use your children to destroy the beautiful unit of a family because of what you expected to gain from them. Look at how Adebayor the footballer is washing his entire family’s dirty linen on social media because they won’t let him rest. Dude has probably had it up to his throat. That’s someone who even makes millions on a weekly basis, let alone a civil servant.
This post started as a inheritance and parent one but has brought me back to culture and tradition which I am strongly of the opinion that we misconstrue a lot of times because it can be very sensitive and close to home. My final thoughts on this though would be to say to us young people, we don’t necessarily have to tow the path of our parents. Atleast not all the time. They did it to us doesn’t make it right. Don’t do it to your own children. That’s the only way the cycle can end. Cos it is one thing to complain, especially the way I see young people complain about taking care of their parents on twitter. Then it’s another thing to actually grow up and not do the same thing. Children, support your parents to the extent you can, not to the extent they want. Parents don’t grow up with the idea of dependence on your kids in the future brewing in your head.