Why Every African Should Be Rich: Lessons From an African Childhood

There is one unique thing about every person in the dark continent; we all had a Jumanji kind of childhood. Well, if you are in Africa and you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s either you are a highborn* or you’ve never heard of Jumanji. But come to think of it… Jumanji sounds like an African form of majic like juju or kamútí so… Anyway, back to my little story.

First, let me remind you how childhood was really like while at the same time giving light to my “exotic” readers. (You guys should be in every page of my history book by the way, with many love emojis). As an African child brought up in the now past century, I had the pleasure of making ny own toys. Parents simply could not understand why you need to buy something you can create anyway. We sewed dolls with old clothes, modeled them from clay, made cars with wood and empty matchboxes and beanbags to play with. It would be a hundred and one percent correct to say that every African child is an artist, in their own unique way. We can make everything there is in this world and even the things that have not been made yet.

Apart from making things to play with, we did invent the games as well. I will not lie to you that we tried magic (children magic games in Africa are just clever lies, the professionals are probably in our parliaments right now). However, we invented risky games, like pouring water on hilly surfaces and sliding down on our butts or bare feet. (The legends of the game did not use water). All in all, I was thinking about the risk in all of it. Children do not mind getting their shorts dirty or going home with a probably grazed bum bum. It’s the fun in it that matters.

Photo adopted from Google

Did I tell you that my first book was a the soil under a Jacaranda tree that grew at the centre of my school’s playing field? Well, my teacher thought that it was a waste of resources to scribble my nonsense on a real book so it was a better idea to write on the ground first. No lost pages, no eraser needed and definitely, no pencil required. My fingers learnt to write all the letters before they could teach the pencil to do it! That’s right! You cannot teach what you do not know.

Fast forward the clip to the time, now. My agemates are all above twenty and some of us barely know how to make our beds. I also cannot tell where all the guts to take risks went to. You find my friend, with two degrees and all he wants is a job at the office. He won’t start a business or consider hard jobs. After all, he got all distinctions in his Animal Husbandry class. Before I get to my third point about using available resources and saving, can someone tell me why Stella and Ken are all over the city, club hopping and passing out after whole nights of sheesha and mzinga? Then the next time you find them, they need a small loan of 2k to be paid at the end of the month (most of the time, the payment never happens). I know it’s life and it’s a YOLO thing but we can at least save a little so that we don’t commit suicide when we get to 60. (Oops, sorry let’s erase that). I know it’s life and it’s a YOLO thing but we can at least save a little so that we don’t commit suicide when we get to 60.

The point is, we can remember what we were before, what is in us, the passion, the fire, the determination. We can then apply it today so that we can have a better tomorrow. And well, if you can’t, just become a story teller like me. Trust me, these guys love stories.

47 responses to “Why Every African Should Be Rich: Lessons From an African Childhood”

  1. Games, magic, self-made toys and play risks. I had that childhood (even as s a white boy! 😃😃). I was fortunate enough to live in the countryside with fields stretching in most directions. Mum and Dad let us explore to our hearts’ content. The desire to take risks and rip up the adult rules never leaves. Great post Mariana…you made me feel young again. ❤️

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Beautiful post, Mariana! ❤ Fewer US children now enjoy the freedom to explore and to invent that we knew as children. It's a programed and highly supervised world for many of them,..afterschool program, youth center, dance class, soccer practice, little league, basketball, karate, gymnastics…These are all positive activities, but in excess, they stifle creativity and independence.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I loved the post. I haven’t enjoyed reading such a post in a very long time now. Loved the articulation and loved the bit about having the better tomorrow. You are just amazing and your thought process deserves an ovation..I am becoming your fan now!! 😍😍💖

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I definitely get it. I grew up poor and it gave me so much — creativity, imagination, patience, the ability to survive tough times now and then as an adult.
    There are so many things I am grateful to my childhood for…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You are a very entertaining writer. I love your spunk, wit and style.
    Bless you for your authenticity and for the life flow in your words. You put a smile in my heart and refreshment in my spirit along with a little peek at what it’s like to be a unique “you” who are a part of me and of all creation.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tutti i bambini del mondo sono artisti se fossero lasciati liberi di fare e sperimentare. In occidente non succede più, ma voi avete sempre avuto un vantaggio…il senso di immensità e di potenza proprio dell’Africa non si trova da nessuna altra parte! Bel post 🙋‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

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