• Friday, May 24, 2024
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Let’s talk about family!

Let’s talk about family!

I consider myself a very lucky woman who grew up surrounded by some of the finest groups of people—my family. My parents were together when I could remember. Both from different ethnic backgrounds thrived, even though I often heard my mom speak Igala with her own accent. It must have been difficult at the time to marry from across the river. She, in fact, was Ebira from the hilly and beautiful landscapes of Okene.

My father, a proud Ankpa man, was from the lineage of Limans, missionaries, and well-educated men and women, while my mom was the daughter of a great trader, Alhaji Lani Boyi, who built the first upstairs after the Ohinoyi. My grandmother Mama Mariamu’s brother, Alhaji Yunus Ustaz Abdullah, went on to become Grand Khadi of Kogi State before his passing. His brother, the erstwhile Imam of Okene, and my father’s elder brother, the Imam of Emanyi.

Q: “Indeed, family is so dynamic now, and with migration taking centre stage now, families are becoming multiracial. My latest in-law is white American, and my latest niece is half Nigerian and half American.”

On my father’s side, we have numerous Catholic priests. I am truly the daughter of great lineages, and I am thankful. I am surrounded on either side by the prayers of my family.

Read also: Family affairs are becoming borderless

Not everyone is this lucky. I always tell everyone who cares to listen that I have been blessed with my own family, a good man as my spouse, and wonderful children. Again, not everyone is this lucky. But what I say today does not mean we do not disagree as a family, as husband and wife, as children and parents. But it’s all about how we mend, how we heal, how we communicate, and how we grow.

At over 60, I cannot say we have not had disagreements with our children. We see things differently from them. They are different. They think we are always judging them, and the rhetoric is always… Mummy, you don’t understand. Daddy, you don’t understand. It’s time to wear a cap and understand each other.

Last week, at a meeting in an office, we took a break and chatted about something else. A young lady was talking about how, at each stage in our lives, we are different types of parents. She said I am more patient with my one-year-old than I am with my ten-year-old.. We are very different types of parents at each stage in our lives, and I agree.

Indeed, family is so dynamic now, and with migration taking centre stage now, families are becoming multiracial. My latest in-law is white American, and my latest niece is half Nigerian and half American. My children now have an American cousin, as they have cousins in our local government and in our homestead, where the palm trees are as tall as a four-story building and fresh air is free.

But family is beyond the physical. It’s the building of heartfelt relationships, the sacrifices we make for each other, and the love that’s enough to go around. I have siblings who can go to the end of the earth for me, and I can do the same for them. People who look out for me as I do for them. Our parents have since passed, but we huddle together and try to speak with each other as often as we can, no matter how far we are from each other.

In all of this, be not deceived; there will always be that aunt who is difficult or a sibling who plays hardball. There would always be a child who grew up feeling unloved by their parents and another who felt abandoned. These people become difficult adults, but they will always surprise you when, in the middle of a storm, they are the ones who come through for you. Family is an unbreakable spirit where, at the end of a global DNA test, we may find that we are all related to each other at the hip.

Read also: The impact of “Japa Syndrome” on work and family relationships in Nigeria today

As you grow older, try to make peace with that grumpy aunt or that sour uncle. Gift them some fruit and fabric, no matter how difficult they seem to be. In the end, that community spirit and those family ties that Nigeria and Africa promote so well are what would keep us all centred. Our shared humanity is what we need to heal. We all have uncles who still give us 5,000 naira when we visit, and those aunties who empty their barn of corn to gift you. They still see you as that 10-year-old who used to sit on their lap. As they begin to ebb away, our fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, let’s do well to visit.

Look into their eyes and bring some light to their slow gait. Family is everything. If you do, do not believe me. Read “A Day Late and a Dollar Short” by Terry McMillan, a novel about dysfunctional families, and be grateful for yours. Me, I am always grateful for mine. Believe me!