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Opinions of Friday, 29 January 2010

Columnist: The Royal Enoch

My Experience Growing Up In Ghana

For me personally, growing up in Ghana was bittersweet. I was raised by an uncle, who was such a disciplinarian. This uncle of mine took his family position as an uncle quite seriously. Also, he was very religious like most Ghanaians. He believed that the best way to raise any child is with the assistance of a whip. According to his Bible, a child's heart is full of foolishness. Hence, the necessity of the whip to correct a child of any mischief. I must confess that I often fell prey to the whip. And it was always for the most ridiculous excuses. My uncle would whip you for not doing your homework. He would also trash you for a complaint, which somebody had about you. I remember coming home late one day to find him pounding the fufuo. See, it was my duty as a ten year boy to pound the fufuo. Normally, I would do the groceries, and his wife would prepare the soup. This tiring routine of mine resorted into frustration. My uncle's wife sensed this frustration, and told my uncle about it. Of course, my uncle took this frustration of mine for insult, and lack of gratitude.

So what did he do? Instead of sitting me down to talk things over, he went overboard with it. He obviously took my frustration for rebellion. The almighty whip was called upon, and justice got served on my behind. He was not going tolerate any rebellion in his house-let alone from his nephew. See, my uncle was a car spare-parts dealer. He operated a shop in Koforidua. As a matter of fact, I had my private education in Koforidua before migrating to the Netherlands in the early eighties. For some shop owners, operating a business in the early eighties wasn't always lucrative. It was a hand to mouth kind of thing. You would see ten to twenty shops selling the same consumer products in the same place. Of course, this meant few costumers for many shop owners.

Nonetheless, at the end of the day, most of these shop owners had enough money to bank. There were also other days, when one's costumers would simply stay away. These kind of days happened occasionally. Like all shop operators, my uncle had both his good days and bad days. You would see my uncle in jovial mood, whenever he had a good day. He would give his wife extra money to buy extra meat for the evening soup.

He would indulge himself a little by buying extra fish for his kenkey. See, Kwahu people are known to be very careful with money. Don't ask me, why? It's just the way it is. See, my uncle preferred to save his money than spend it on futility. My uncle is the type of person, who would never buy a pair of new shoes for himself unless the old shoes had holes in them. This is how cheap he was and still is. Then again, who could blame him? After all, a fool and his money are destined to part ways, right?

My uncle was less cheerful and generous, whenever he had a bad day. He would come home angry, resentful and frustrated. He would deliberately find something faulty about me, and whoop my arse to release his frustration. He did this to me repeatedly. I became more or less a punching bag, whenever he had a bad day. Of course, I understood the financial stress, which came with raising a family in the early eighties. Also, I very much understood that he was all alone in this. However, what I couldn't quite understand was; why was he forever taking his frustration out on me? All of a sudden, it occurred to me that it was not only my uncle, who was guilty of such a behavior. Most parents did exactly the same. Most parents would shout and scream at their own children, whenever things seemed to fall apart-as if the children were to blame. My uncle's mistreatment of me left me traumatized, emotionally bruised and resentful of him. Therefore, my advise to parents is; don't take your daily frustrations out on your children-lest they turn out to be just like me.