‘No wonder Ope said his mum told him that your house looked like a beggar’s pen.’
I was 13 years old when those words from the lips of my innocent friend fell into my heart. It’s been 13years and more; not enough time for those memories to leave, neither would my mind allow any distortion. At 13, my elder brother bought me my first computer (smiles), this personal computer encounter was my window to graphics design as my inquisitive mind made animations from time lapse and repeated slides. At 13, i lived with my parents in a small house, small enough, that the dinning table took a quarter of the sitting room; but all that didn’t matter. Dad and mum weren’t from privileged homes and had to work really hard to put food on the table, get my siblings and i education, clothing and a good self esteem. Why does this really matter?
Church, asides school was my only safe place for socialization as the streets weren’t safe for children. I grew up in a period when armed robbery was on its highest in Lagos, an era before a Military administrator, gave his promise to making the city safe. This period also had children join gangs and easily get psyched into criminality, with valid reasons relatable to their environments and realities. My parents didn’t want that for me, given the age disparity between my older siblings and i. Choir, Dance, Drama, Cadet Crusaders, Sunday School, Children’s department activities, graced my childhood. All of which I’m grateful for expect this.
Picture a poor child living in a neighbourhood sharing a fence with a highbrow neighbourhood. For context, consider placing a Mile Twelve next to Ikoyi, that was it. And because faith didn’t find resolve in Social Stereotype, HEAVEN’S gate were open for all, hence the mix and fellowship. Some who could attend same schools, pick up accents after Summer holidays, due to the fact that the privileged once had opportunities of traveling abroad for holidays leaving us to live our holidays in Summer Coaching or Ijebu Ode. As a child, i would think that we were fine, with one another, innocent, safe together as we all aspired for greater futures and paths until those words reminded me of my family’s reality – we were poor and our small neat and cozy home was referred to as a beggar’s pen by Ope’s mum, who didn’t leave a guess of her ability to saying those words, having spent 3hours that afternoon with mum in March.
I wept my heart with forced smiles, i guess my friend was smart enough to notice; wouldn’t children perhaps teenagers be teenagers, we moved on to Microsoft Powerpoint animation (smiles) and Computer gaming.
It took years to speak out. Years to openly talk or write about this. I recall hating the day my mum openly praised Ope’s mum of how wonderful a woman she is, how sincere and loving .. yada . . yada . . yada. .
I hated how i screamed at mum for days, and when i finally narrated my ordeal to my sister, with no guilt, i could care less for reasons to hate myself. If that wasn’t bad for a child’s mind, what more could be?
I’m a young man today, who still lives in that box of pain for her words spoken. For me, they weren’t just words, they were scornful. They were false messages broadcasted to everyone who cared to listen, they were crystal representations of hypocrisy and a reverse of love. Did i mention that Ope’s mum at a point became my Sunday school teacher? Half the time in her class just before Sunday services began, i couldn’t care to give attention. My mind couldn’t fix the pieces of forgiveness, i couldn’t see beyound the hypocrisy. The scorn of childhood lived with me till i could let go.
If we choose not to be judged by the colour of our skin but by character and sincere economic contributions, we shouldn’t profile anyone. If you say you don’t, kindly give response to my following questions if you may:
How often do you judge a bus conductor for his line of work?
How often do you judge a street hawker for the state of his clothing or that he has to hawk, chase your vehicle to earn?
How often do you judge a Sales person or direct sales executive at the shopping mall, all because they couldn’t wait for better job opportunities perfect for their degrees and certifications?
How often do you judge a person based on his residential address and building structure?
How often do you make him feel shallow, all because he doesn’t drive a car when he should have one but hasn’t gotten enough money to?
How often do you think people are not relevant or intellectual to engage you in mind renewing conversations, until they do?
How often do you find them appealing until they become famous on Social media, reality shows, or an interview gig on Radio, Television and Newspaper features?
How often do you assume he or she can not be useful because you employed them, or earn better than they do?
Social stereotype, Social Stratification, Social Economic divides, however your choice of nomenclature. All of that, which you just read, lays the brick for not only a failed system, but a catalyst for the enfranchisement of toxic masculinity and the Man box.
Scornful words and experiences are fundamental to raising systems and people; as people are a reflection of their leaders and leaders (in respect of our climes) oblivious to the plight of the people. Conceptualizing this to gender equality, equity, intentional parenting and the emancipation of human rights in its truest sense. We all must remember that families are often referred to as society’s mirror just before our offsprings graduate to being raised by a village. Across Africa, an amazing number of Boy child advocates and have agrued from a position of mental wellness and emotional intelligence; agruements debunking society’s unwritten constitution of how a boy should not enjoy the relieve derived from tears and sincere pouring of heart to fellow mates without breaking the man code where firmness must be a supreme price even to the point of death; but did you watch George Floyd cry for his Mama when every second from the pressured kneels of a toxic male stole his breathing chance to live.
Same is the situation with wealth, financial prowess and living the natural calling as Men (please do understand, that Men undergo financial stress and pressure). Men always want to provide, protect and nurture. A natural Male would give his life to provide, protect and nuture those he loves and appreciates; reliving his childhood exposed to scornful words or intimidation, of a cause would have been the sleigh hammer knock to his wall of values. Unemployed, lacking funds to starting a business, traveling abroad in search of a better job, and even provide for his family who expects him to provide, might be the final push to cyber crime, illegal hacking, political thuggery, organised crime, gang membership, fornication, adultery and society’s scrutiny. Is this in defense of his actions, no.
We live in a age where ‘money talks – insults stop’ ,has become a mantra. Where what you earn, wear, live, who you are associated with, how many social media followers engaged silences the new minority of reasonable voices. Words or sounds repeated to aid concentration in meditation. Wonder why unconsciously majority of us sing songs we usually wouldn’t listen to or say slangs from comedy skits our ethics wouldn’t allow us pay attention to until we dedicate seconds to rating our fanship support.
Do you realised that a Boy today becomes a Man tomorrow?
Do you also realise that great leaders born of destiny are either shaped into global humanitarians leading with love or global terrorists, with bleeding hands of war. Nature or nurture, environment or privilege. My parents, siblings, and everyone i met, helped shape my character and still yet influencing positively for the better, as my best daily becomes better.
Those scronful words during childhood, subconsciously have not left my mind despite my commitment to Apostle Paul’s philosophy of detoxifying childhood traits, at the entrance of Manhood, which announces the readiness of a male to lead with Love and focus. A bleeding Man, stains the world with his blood.
We all as a community should help each man heal from their childhood pain, realizing that doing this may save us from the sad realities of innocently aged ungrown children. Ill mannered children boost with what they’ve acquired. Should adults do same?