I grew up with two very Nigerian parents who imbibed my siblings and I with their culture even though we did not live on the continent and many times did not understand their discipline. In this post, I’m going to be walking down memory lane with you and inviting you in to the Ezekwenna household circa 1980’s to early 2000’s, since the topics for day two of the #30DayAfriBlogger and BlogTember challenges are about the top 10 house rules and childhood memories of growing up African respectively; I’ll be fusing them both. Below you will find ten rules that guided my childhood, and ultimately shaped me into the person I am today.
1. Don’t Ask Me Why
As a child, my siblings and I learned quickly that asking why was not only futile, but also detrimental to our health. Just kidding about that last part. However, I remember my mom specifically always told us to never ask her why, and if we did should would simply state that infamous saying, “Because ‘y’ has a long tale.” I’m still siding my memory of her. Thankfully we all grew out of that stage, and she welcomes my questions and inputs.
2. The Nonexistence of Left-handedness
My parents ensured that my siblings and I were right handed by force. We were forbidden to take or receive anything with our left hand.
3. Family Prayer Time
Every night my family had family prayers for many years. This meeting lasted for a couple hours and was mandatory. There was lots of singing, sometimes shouting, reading, and praying.
4. No Sleepovers
My parents would go back and forth on this issue. I remember times when I was explicitly forbidden from staying the night at anyone’s hose. As a teenager in the United States, there were times I felt left out due to this.
5. No Secular Music
Read: no non-Christian music. I grew up in a very conservative Christian household where even the music my siblings and I listened to were regulated. Only Christian music and radio were allowed, although rebelliously I sneaked other types of music since I discovered at a young age that Jesus-freak music wasn’t enough for me, and also I was very much into rock, pop, and American hip hop.
6. No Kissing (Dating)
I think this one may be common in most African households. My sister, brothers, and I were all forbidden to date. Funny enough how now parents will start asking about marriage and fiancés as if these things happen overnight.
7. No Sleeping In…Church
This rule was twofold. My siblings and I were punished if we slept off in church. To be honest you couldn’t really blame us. My parents would take us to Friday or Saturday night mass and then a Protestant service every Sunday not to mention Protestant midweek service every Wednesday as well as the additional Friday night vigil, which like this run-on sentence is A LOT.
And then my parents also didn’t like us to sleep in during the summer. For whatever reason they had an aversion to us children being well-rested, so they would wake us up at the crack of dawn with cold water.
The last three house rules are about preventing waste; I get my thrifty nature from them.
8. Water Conservation
Since my dad was so particular about the water usage in my house, my early childhood actually consisted of everyone taking bucket baths. Essentially I would fill up a bucket and use a pail to control how much water I would use.
9. Let There (Not) Be Light
“Turn off any lights that aren’t being used!” I used to think this was my dad’s favorite phrase (he still says this to this day). Growing up we had to be selective with how much energy we consumed.
10. Bon Appetit
I can still remember my parents’ response whenever I couldn’t finish the food on my plate as a small child. They would simply smile and save the food for my next meal. So that coconut rice I couldn’t eat for dinner would turn into my breakfast the next morning and when I still couldn’t finish it, it would turn into my lunch.
I have sooo many more, but I thought I would stop here! Omolayo Nkem shared her Nigerian childhood memories as well, and there are actually quite a few similarities. We joked that Nigerian parents must all go to the same parenting school. Lol. If you grew up in an African household, comment below some of the craziest or most memorable household rules that shaped your childhood.