Do you want a kid?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

STORIES FROM ABROAD

Do you want a kid?: An African millennial perspective on ‘Child bearing’.

I recall one evening when I overhead my father remark casually, It is good for someone to have many kids” My momma sitting right next to him also casually seemed to agree. She said, “Indeed it is a good thing”. That was the end of the matter for them as they quickly switched back to watching and discussing, one of these upcoming young talents on Kenyan Tv. I mean they are getting better and better each day, I guess inspired by Lupita Nyong’o who has won the OSCARS and a million hearts in so doing. Oh, the kids in Kenya now know and believe they can do anything they want. Ask them how, they point at not just Lupita but Obama (somehow Kenyan), Kipchoge and a thousand athletes, you get the gist.

The reason I recalled that sweet evening, having dinner with my folks – those eternal lovebirds, was how they thought about having children. You see, my father’s father (grandfather) was married to two wives. From them he had 8 sons and 3 daughters. Tall, handsome fellows, with the strength of many oxen. After them, we are now 70 cousins who know and hang out with each other whenever we can. Back then, when we were but kids, we would all gather in grandfather’s big farm in the cools of Mt. Kenya. Surrounded by forests of oak and other trees, lined with plantations of tea and coffee, I can never forget nature’s charm. In the waking up to singing birds, and the mighty sounds of meandering rivers and streams, to the steamy mist covering the ground to signal day break. Firewood smoke from the separately built kitchen house promised a breakfast of sweet potatoes, arrow roots and millet porridge. There was milk, there were yams and roasted maize. Funny how the local cousin, I mean the one who lived with grandma and grandpa would accommodate all these variety casually, while we kids from the city would barely get quarter-way through. He was as strong as an ox.

The reason why I am telling this tale, is because for me, I am young, unmarried but educated. I know, marriage and education seem to be different things but in Africa, no sooner are you through school, at whatever level (leaving school meaning to us, that you will not read no more, lol) than you get married. No sooner do you get married than you are expected to have kids. Then maybe you can be excused for furthering your education or pursuing what you would consider a different achievement. Anyway, I could not dare share my thoughts. What? That one may decide never to have children and “live alone all their lives”. It is not commonly heard of, but in this millennial age, some young people have been heard utter these things. They say other things that I will not dare say, for example, that girls may get married to one another. And the boys too. I will side with my president Kenyatta, who answering Kristian Amanpour on CNN, said that our society was not ready for these discussions. True, when Barrack Obama visited, being considered ‘our son’ and all, rumor has it that, he was cautioned to talk about everything else but do not suggest these things to us. Enough said.

You see, for we the millennials, having kids is a strange subject. Having been disillusioned by the unfruitful journey of our education, seeing as 70% of us are unemployed, graduates of all kinds and calling, we do not really think about kids the same as our folks. Having a child is no longer affording them a meal you can ‘gather’ from behind your ‘hut’ where every edible vegetable known grows wildly. Serve it in a calabash and gourd you also plucked from ‘behind the hut’. Smoothened with the abundant milk cream and then filled in the inside with the freshest milk before naturally fermenting to create variety. Neither can you, when the kids come of age, bequeath them a herd of cattle nor have gifts of spacious open lands like our grandfathers were once able to do for our parents. Being the children of newly found freedom, which is from the colonial masters Britain, the second generation, our parents, were the pioneers of African civil service. They were the new doctors, nurses and teachers. Their stories of free college and allowances while at campus not to mention the recruitment almost by force, to anyone of age who was to be employed in new military and police forces are a bit absurd to us. If you went to school up to grade four, you were easily managerial material and for a high school Diploma, easily the regional head. No wonder that the president then was a teacher with not so glorious a certificate. He would later be blamed for the woes that Kenya suffered under his one party rule that plunged the country into the darkness in which we should have been brought up in.

Soon they were complaining of salaries that seemed to vanish the moment they were received. Lifestyles changed and so did the environment in the 1990s Kenya. Political violence, teacher strikes, nurses strikes, doctors strike, HIV/AIDS, assassinations, crisis and myriad social evils. We should be considered lucky, those of us whose parents kept in school but in later years, we meet with the same perils without any wiser means. In Kenya, however, we give credit for what is called the second liberation, where some brave politicians managed to overcome this moment of madness and they have now won a precious constitution in our own name and perhaps language. The doubt I reserve, and hope will be cleared with the millennials, is because of the old ways seemingly beginning to once again creep in. The implementation has begun to spasm with every clamor for position and prestige, the allegations of post-colonial dynasties entangled in disputes with poor populations. Indeed, this is why having a kid, is not what it used to be.

This is the apparent age of the third African, or the third generation Africans, part of the world wide millennials. You see, modern day African nations are young, having attained independence in the 1960s, so the glorious and famed freedom fighters are considered first generation. Then we have the post-colonial generation after and, now the millennials. Don’t get me wrong, we may be labelled, ‘third world’ in other forum but believe me we are doing well. For example, we have our smartphones and computers like the rest and so, I wrote you a story from my bed. Today, many of you in the world are friends, online clients for this or the other and generally, I mean, you have connected with us tremendously in the internet and global village. The exposures, the exchanges and corporation among the worldwide youth is incredible today. Not just the video games we play or shared urban culture, it is also in what we believe as a generation. For instance, many youths from both the West and the East are daily volunteering here in Africa. Others are contributing through their own ways considering the pioneers of software, social media, cryptocurrencies and other globalizing things. People here have business with those in the Middle East, China, India and Australia. As young people of the world today, I believe we are beating ‘old evil’ wherever it may be found, armed with the means only we seem to know namely, technology and its fast evolving creations.

So, the world is different for us. I am sure this is true of youth in other parts of the world too. The future is exciting. To conclude my ‘tale’ before I forget, I would like to have many kids or maybe not….I have not really thought about it. However, I get the feeling I might be seeing you in some corner of world soon. Have a good one.


Submitted: May 03, 2021

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