- The Storried Platform
MEMORIES OF MY CHILDHOOD AS A NIGERIAN – By Joy Ijeoma Nwankwo
I remember my elder brother, a medical doctor telling me of a foreign medical case about a child who threw tantrums whenever he didn’t get what he wanted. During these tantrums, he’d repeatedly hit his head on the wall, inflicting pains on himself physically and on his mother emotionally. I also remember thinking that that can only happen somewhere else and not in Nigeria. At least not in the Nigeria I grew up in.
Growing up as a Nigerian was an experience that served as a training ground. If you grow up in Nigeria and turn out a success, you can face any challenge.
One of the earliest memories of my childhood days includes bathing outside and my playmates looking on as I took my bath. I made sure I washed my heels well as that was the “checking point”. I also remember me and my elder brothers playing our own idea of football “outside” against our parents wish because “backyard” was less fun to play in.
You see, “outside” was the part of our house that had more light as it faced a road that led to a market, and the soil there was sandy, perfect for play. On the other hand, “backyard” was the other side of the house which faced a row of houses and had two mango trees. It also had a part which served as a mechanic’s workshop and to top it up, the soil was muddy, not good for play. Backyard was safer but dull, so we played outside till it was almost time for our father’s arrival from work.
Growing up as a Nigerian, I learnt to see things for myself and make my own decisions and not do what others were doing.
During my primary school days, my father was a little late in paying my school fees one term and I knew. On my way to school one morning, I saw some of my classmates going back home from school because the authorities asked them to go home as they owed the school. Since I knew I also owed, I returned home without checking things for myself. I got home and told my mother that “we” were sent home because we owed.
Surmise it to say I was flogged mercilessly by my father because he had spoken to the headmaster and they had reached an agreement so I wouldn’t have been sent home had I reached the school. Lesson learnt.
Growing up as a Nigerian, I learnt that everybody knew whose child you were and I learnt to be strong and finish-up whatever I start.
I was on my way to school one morning with my younger sister, I didn’t check properly before crossing the road and we got hit by a bike. We got up so fast and were more scared of the fact that people gathered and that they might scold us than the fact that we were hit. We were cleaned up and asked to go home. We insisted and went on to school since we could still walk.
We got back home, acting as if nothing happened only to see my mother looking worried and checking to make sure we were alright. Turned out someone had told her what happened. We became more cautious of how we acted outside the house.
With a life like this who had time to throw tantrums or who dared throw tantrums?
Growing up as a Nigerian, I learnt to behave myself and became a writer as I could only misbehave in my fictitious stories.
By Joy Ijeoma Nwankwo
I remember my elder brother, a medical doctor telling me of a foreign medical case about a child who threw tantrums whenever he didn’t get what he wanted. During