If there was one mistake some parents made, it was their decision to raise their young children unguided in foreign countries. Inasmuch as it is not a bad idea to send children to foreign countries to get the best of knowledge, become global citizens and stand shoulder to shoulder with their foreign counterparts, the decision boomeranged for so many. One question they failed to address at the initial stage was whether they had the capabilities to check on the children sent abroad as often as possible. Did they, perhaps, imagine foreign countries to be paradise without challenges?
Ordinarily, all parents who can afford to send their young children overseas to attend school take the step primarily in the belief that it is in the best interest of their children. While some parents have gained in this expedition, some are in total regret and disappointment because some of the children got carried away by a new lifestyle, some got indoctrinated into all manner of deceit and fell cheap prey to the wrong side of life and, therefore, chose to close the chapter of their root.
Be it as it may, the story of most parents who find themselves in this situation could be likened to the account of the parable of the sower as recorded in the Bible, who sowed seeds: “Some fell by the wayside, and fowls came and devoured them; some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth, they actually sprang up, but because they had no deepness of earth, when the sun was up, they were scorched and withered away because they had no root. Some other seeds fell among thorns and the thorns sprung up and choked them. But others fell into good ground and brought forth fruits, some in hundredfold, some sixtyfold and some thirtyfold.”
Most of the seeds, which fell by the way side, on stony places, and thorns might be as a result of parents’ negligence or the child’s chosen enthusiasm. When indoctrination is introduced into a system, when some societies are considered to be world powers, when the black skin is perceived to be inferior, and every move is patterned towards the colonial masters’ lifestyle, including their language and food, it amounts to what the late literary icon, Chinua Achebe, described in his popular book “Things Fall Apart”, a case where the centre cannot hold. A good number of parents tend to forget that raising children in foreign lands has its advantages and disadvantages, which impact on the upbringing of the children.
Again, when children as teenagers, both boys and girls, begin to show certain bad habits most parents do not nip such manifestations in the bud immediately and seek lasting solution through counselling, exemplary behaviour of men and women who have made it in life, frequent discussion where the child is allowed to open up etc. Some will use travelling abroad as an excuse to pacify the poor situation thereby aiding and abetting and in the end make them irresponsible. For some, sending their children overseas is an act of competition among their families, peers and associates. I got into a woman’s house on the Island, met her son shouting that the help must not forget have his food ready. His mother screamed his name and said, “Don’t worry, you will soon join your sister and her husband in Germany.” In essence, join them to further spread his nuisance value as if foreign countries have the magic to raise children.
Interestingly, it is also on record that some children made it even without a guide while some fell by the wayside on the streets of foreign countries even with their parents living with them. It is a two-sided coin. Some would have functioned better here under the supervision of their parents, and the injection of the African tradition of raising children where other kinsmen and neighbours can have a say.
A good number of those early birds who saw such project as keeping up with the Joneses, and, therefore, sent all their children abroad then might not be the happiest people on earth currently. I agree that “out of sight is not out of mind” but these days out of sight is gradually becoming out of mind, because life and times have changed. Some of the regrets arise from the fact that most of those children have lost sense of community values and this gives their fathers terrible headache.
Most parents want their trained technocrat wards to come back home and fill in the gap. Most of them cannot even fit into the shoes of their aged fathers who sent them abroad. All over the world, the same records of crime, fraud, domestic violence, abusive marriage, gangsterism, etc, manifest everywhere and not only in Africa. People succeed if they want to no matter the condition and circumstance. Maybe the comfort, easy going and admirable zones of life in foreign countries make them better.
To illustrate the extent of losing community value, I remember my late classmate who told me that his mother practically knelt down to plead with him to marry from his community in Anambra State. Mama’s reason was that her five older sons who lived overseas married foreign women and Mama found it very difficult to communicate with her daughters- in-law. She was almost losing her community rights because none of her daughters-in-law had come home to pay homage as expected in their community. Mama who was widowed early never carried her grandchildren; instead she saw only their photographs and managed to mumble words on telephone with them once in a while. Mama believed that if her daughters-in-law lived close by, they would understand the joy parents get when they behold their grandchildren especially during festive periods in the rural communities. Mama’s joy was almost fulfilled when her third son brought home from England a full black African Kenyan lady. Her spirit leapt for joy only to discover that she could not communicate with her as well. Meanwhile he came very near home at least an African lady.
One might not castigate outright or question the reason for permanent residence abroad after seeing the poor governance, poor quality of lives, stagnant poverty, criminal activities, fraud, lies, laziness, family feud and inconsequential nature of the many Third World countries. And that brings about the several calls for African citizens to come back home, utilize their acquired knowledge to build their various nations, participate in all levels of government and be around to bid their parents farewell when they finally kick the bucket.
One recalls the case of very accomplished titled chief from one of the Southeast states who passed on at 96, an indication that he deserved all religious and traditional rites according to the norm of their community. Some of the rites were to be carried out by his biological children and otherwise. All chief’s children had become well established abroad and found it very difficult to come back home. Now their father’s death was the litmus test. They all refused to come home for fear of kidnappers, who had seized the Southeast by the jugular at the time. They buried their father through a middleman who erected a storey-building for himself while the process lasted.
Suffice to say that in the 80s, a sister who travelled as a fresh secondary school girl got into the United States and wrote her parents to forget about her and never returned home from that day. What about beautiful Clarence who won a scholarship to study engineering in the United State. The family rejoiced, and she was calm in the first four months. After hiding for years, she appeared with three baby boys from three different men. Today, two of the sons sent overseas have been repatriated and jailed for drug related offences. What about the gangsters who found love within the confines of the discotheque, night clubs with massive tattoos all over their bodies and eventually died violently?
Dear parents, note that all that glitters is not gold. Some of the regrets of others should be today’s teachings. Some of the teenage children need close monitoring to avoid falling by the wayside, dry ground or among thorns. Look before you leap!