Are Some African Parents Culturally Failing Their Children?

There’s seems to be a worrying trend a significant number of you Bino and Fino Fans who are parents are telling me about. In fact I’ve had a discussion about this issue about 6 times in 2 days. It’s a bit controversial but I wanted to get to know more about it because it is important and also informs how we produce future episodes of the cartoon.

Some of you are saying that there is a rapidly growing group of Nigerian parents in the country actively choosing not to pass on aspects of their culture to their children. I’m going to focus on Nigeria because that’s where I’m getting most of this feedback from. Examples of this phenomenon include:

• Parents stopping their children from eating Nigerian foods

• Parents stopping their children from having accents that sound ‘Nigerian’

• Making sure their children only wear ‘western’ style clothing

• Not teaching them their Nigerian mother language on purpose

I don’t pretend to know everything about Nigerian culture. However I am proud of my heritage and of the wonderfully diverse cultures we have here in the country and in the rest of Africa. I love both modern and ancient sides of it. I can also understand for various reasons one can’t expose children to aspects of their heritage. That is also natural. For instance I won’t know as much about my language and customs as my grandmother for example.

But to systematically make sure that children have almost no connection to their Nigerian heritage and modern indigenous culture is a new one to me. That’s why I wanted to find out more. Are more of you noticing this trend in Nigeria and in other African countries? What are thoughts on why it is happening? Do you even believe it’s happening on a significant scale?

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A new black cartoon made in Africa for kids all over the world.
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5 Responses to Are Some African Parents Culturally Failing Their Children?

  1. toyin says:

    On all 4-points i’m not guilty and thats because
    - if we don’t eat Nigerian food in Nigeria..then what do we eat.
    - We live in Nigeria so she most def. has a Nigerian accent even though she attends an international school.
    - she wears mostly western clothing because its so readily available and Naija tailors just don’t like making clothes for children – at least the ones i know but she loves her iro & buba and the GELE to bits (thanks to her Grandparents)
    -As for mother tongue , my parents are from different tribes in Nigeria and instead of learning 2 native languages we stuck to English. twas horrible so I resolved that none of my children would grow up speaking my mother tongue which I learnt as a young adult. A yoruba only speaking nanny helped us on that point.
    Not teaching children their culture is so not cool! Its who we are so why not?

    • BinoandFino says:

      Hello Toyin,
      Thanks for your thoughts. How are you doing?
      It’s always good to hear from parents and what your real experiences are. It’s such a fluid relative topic and it’s easy to sound judgmental on it. That’s why I wanted to point out I’m not an expert on everything Nigeria. I also where western clothes and eat burgers, Indomie and chips etc. But also wear traditional and eat indigenous traditional Nigerian foods as well. I’m open to all cultures Western, Asian, African, Latin American and try to explore them when possible.
      The key thing that made me write the post was the idea some parents are actively blocking aspects of our culture because they feel it is inferior. Are you seeing that anywhere?

  2. I have to say, I think some African parents really are failing their children. It’s a side effect of colonization of consciousness that Colonialism inflicted on Africa. Many peers of my parents’ generation were taught to believe their culture and heritage were inherently inferior to that of the British and it’s an upbringing that they’ve transferred to their kids.

    My parents made sure to give me as close to a traditional Yoruba upbringing as possible and I am eternally grateful to them for that. I grew up in the USA and my mom operated by embassy rules when my siblings and I were growing up. We were only allowed to speak Yoruba whenever we were at home or in the car. However, I know some parents that say their kids should go into the streets to pick up their native language.

    I get irritated sometimes when I see culture pieces written by adults of my parents’ generation who are intensely critical of the fact that many kids growing up in Nigeria today, don’t readily associate with their indigenous cultures, and prefer Western values over Nigerian ones. My response is simple: You can’t expect these kids to sing your songs, eat your food, dress like you and speak your language when you’ve never taught them how.

    I’ve been told I speak Yoruba with an American accent and even been scoffed at for it, but many of the kids growing up in Nigeria today, can barely say their names properly let alone speak their languages. I’m grateful for whatever cultural understanding I’ve gained over the years and more importantly, I’m grateful to my parents for making sure I had those experiences.

    • BinoandFino says:

      Interesting thoughts Omotola. I think it’s one of those issues that’s grey and complex. For instance the context many African middle class parents live in now is totally different to that those of our parents and grand parents age lived in. The political, social and cultural drivers are different. I’m sure many felt they were doing the best for their children. It must have been a tough balancing act back then. Today things are different as one can promote be proud of one’s culture and not be attacked and demonised for the most part.

      • I think you’re right about that. In many ways, people’s ability to take ownership of their culture has to do with the development of artistic culture. I personally credit styl-plus’s song “Olufunmi” as being the catalyst for the Nigeria’s modern music scene. Ironically, the band is largely unheard of today, but the music scene is bigger than it’s ever been.

        I think we could definitely go a step further and make good movies about historical leaders and mythical figures from the various cultures. Hell, let’s go all the way and make a movie that’s good enough to submit to the American film Academy for Best International Feature.

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