The country I am currently residing in is very wicked. The sky is blue, the sun is shining yet it is freezing cold. Nonetheless, I am forcing myself to go out a bit more, when I say I am forcing myself, I started last week.
I had joined an organisation called Star 100, if you haven’t heard of it, they are a network for Ghanaian professionals. Membership costs around £45 a year and with that you get free access to a lot of events and meet-ups. Up until last week, I hadn’t taken advantage of any of my membership fee but I was intrigued by an invitation to attend and event called “what makes a great Ghanaian parent”.
The event was held in central London, refreshments were wine, juice and crisps. I am guessing that it was a man who organised the refreshments because we women know how to make a little go a long way…haha
Star 100 though has great potential, my sister is a social media addict and she was saying that had she known through any mode, she probably would have joined, I think they have a lot of people waiting to join, but I digress.
The seminar was split into three sessions. There was a pre-event survey which was conducted and the host went through the results of that. Followed by a question and answer session with a panel of parents. The last part was a talk from Seth Tandoh who is an expert in leadership and offers training to businesses in Ghana. I believe Seth spent his formative years in London and Ghana and has made a living now from offering his services in Ghana.
From the first session I learnt that:
- The majority of us never had a pet growing up. Around 30% did but not sure if they were actual pets like a dog or a cat or pets that cannot make a mess on the living room floor like a gold fish.
- The majority of us did many household chores for zero pocket money
- Our parents showed affection through verbal praise rather than the physical such as hugs. Yes people saying “well done” is classified as affection.
- We were influenced growing up mainly through the church, family and extended family. One of our major disappointments however were issues such as our parents not teaching us the local language
The last part of the survey asked us to tell a funny story about our experiences growing up. Now I thought I would have a hundred smother stories, but actually, I think she was quite sane growing up. I think it is as she has gotten older and her desire to become a grandmother/mother of the bride (although the latter is becoming a little less important as a precursor for the former). I couldn’t think of one personally, but I did tell a story that I lived vicariously through my best friend (I heard the story that many times, I feel like I lived it). Although not exactly my story, it was the first story they read out and even though I may sound biased, none of the other examples read out were as good as this one.
The second session was a Q&A session, the panel consisted of a father who home schooled his children, a mental health doctor who was also a divorced father, a mother who sent her child to private school and a mature Ghanaian lady whose children were grown. I learnt that:
- Parents who like me spoke little or none of their language of origin were concerned about not being able to pass this onto their children, but there are quite a few places where children have the opportunity to learn and they are enrolling their kids in these classes
- 40% of the job opportunities today were not in existence 10 years ago so parents should not be pushing for their children to be lawyers, doctors and accountants
- Respect is reciprocal and children should be respected as much as the adults (never knew that 40 years ago)
- First generation British born Ghanaians are trying their hardest to keep the cultural values that they grew up with but at the same time allowing their children to gain the best of the environment that they are living in.
- Somehow, someway, we end up emulating our parents in some way and find ourselves saying phrases to our children that were said to us growing up.
I was quite intrigued about the gentleman who home schooled his children. I did want to ask what his reasoning behind home schooling his children was, but there was one lady with an exercise book full of questions and we had already started late so I left it. I understand he had a level of control over their education and who they interact with, but at school you learn that there are people you don’t get on with and never will but you learn to get on with (as long as it doesn’t move into bullying because that’s a whole different conversation). How was he preparing his children from that?
If anyone has that answer, interested to know.
There was one other guy that had, let’s say “daddy issues”. I don’t know his experiences growing up but I am guessing that his father was well to do in the community but he didn’t really mix with Ghanaians himself and his father commanded him rather than advised him. This guy felt that he could not relate to Ghanaians and Nigerians although he was married to one of Ghanaian origin. His reason was because of one idiot who left their child in a dirty nappy for longer than they should have and he thought that maybe he was being a bit too “booshie”. Lady with the plenty questions, she spoke with a very posh accent when she asked her questions but she didn’t wait for the panel to answer that and when she did. The posh accent was still there but the body language was showing that there was some ghetto in her that wanted to slap the silly out of him. She kept it classy though apart from the neck cocking, and told him what you’re all thinking. There are bad parents in all cultures, so he shouldn’t classify a whole race based on this experience.
I wanted to know where he lived, because maybe he should move out. I don’t know, I could be wrong, but I feel that in an act of rebellion to his upbringing he has gone to an area where a lot of his “people” are in an effort to get to know them but ended up on the wrong side of the road.
The last session was from Seth Tandoh, he lost me a bit in the beginning and I thought it was more of a plug to his business because it felt more of a talk on leadership. However he did tie it back to present day leadership as parents and observed the fact that we here in England are getting closer to the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child and we first generation are getting more closer.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it, with a few tweaks I think if they did this event again I would recommend this. It’s not just a forum for Ghanaians but for anyone who is experiencing what a first generational goes through (either through birth or by marriage) or anyone who is just interested.
One thing I know is that whatever anyone thinks, we are proud of our heritage and we are keen to pass this on to our next generation.
I also know that even though I will probably have more smother stories to tell, my parents weren’t actually that bad growing up. haha