07.11.2022 Feature Article

Agony Or Joy Of Waiting As Black Son & Daughter Return Home

Agony Or Joy Of Waiting As Black Son  Daughter Return Home
07.11.2022 LISTEN

Children are social animals like most of us. It is becoming more dangerous in Africa as in Diaspora for both sons and daughters out there to roam around. We hear and read about Police stopping them but more so if they are Black in the Diaspora and at checkpoints in African big cities. Adolescents do not know how joyful parents are when they return home on time without getting into trouble, especially while driving.

It is so different these days with all kinds of crimes and Police brutality on the streets. Even good young men do get into trouble, unfortunately. The days most people go out and return home at any hour of the night or early morning are gone. We used to have all night parties with early breakfast. Some of you may wonder where and when. The only time you sleep over for breakfast these days is when your hosts are worried that you may not make it home alive.

Unfortunately, harassment is true not only in cities across Africa but also in Diaspora if you happen to be Black. The older ones are more careful about staying out too late. It is worse when you are one of the youths. Youths are not safe in the hands of bandits roaming around in communities or the authorities in uniforms that are supposed to Serve and Protect us. Youths are challenged for a variety of reasons from the style of their haircuts to that of their clothes.

Only the parents of Black sons know the agony of staying up many nights praying that their sons come back home safe and are not in trouble with the Police or bandits. It has got to a point where parents are more apprehensive about Police that are supposed to Serve and Protect than the criminals.

It is deadlier in the United States than anywhere else because Black young men can be stopped for driving-while-Black. Parents of Black boys must have the Talk with their children in case they are stopped at the Park, on the street while walking or driving. The former white New York mayor, Joe Blasio, had the Talk with his Black son. The Police Union labeled him racist for warning his own son about any encounter with the Police.

Our children wondered why we thought we grew up in Paradise in those days. Money was not the most important factor. We all had money because if you were poor, parents that were better off made sure they sponsored all the children for events. Sometimes, we sponsored one another in turn. One might have surplus for an event while he might not have enough for another. The good old days sweet o, no be small.

Boy, we were lucky in those days in Lagos. We used to go to parties and nightclubs too. In fact, a few of our friends had access to their popcies' cars. We had to be very careful because the cars were taken out of the house when parents were sleeping. We would drive around to collect others, especially the girls. Some of the girls would be waiting in front of their houses. The friend driving might not even have a full license!

A few of the girls lived in the back quarters for house help. But you would not know that until you dropped by one day and knocked on the main house asking for Baby. You would then be directed to the back quarters! Anyway, hardly would the Police stop anyone for looking young. You have to break some traffic violations. We always came back home early so that the parents would not wake up to find the car missing.

Boy, some of those girls in "bonfo", up-and-down, neatly plaited hair, cornrow and Afro haircut would make you quiver. The boys hairstyle in "bay", girls-follow-me or low-cut. The tight trousers were a pain in the butt. You had to set enough time to put them on and take them off. The shirts are well starched so that you could fly your polo.

We went to Church and Mosque not only on Fridays and Sundays but whenever there were some religious activities in-between. It was a good opportunity to "shadow" boys and girls, apart from sporting activities. The school uniforms, no matter the dictated colors, were also an opportunity to "shine". We complemented them with white tennis shoes which some of us adorned with white socks that displayed red, blue or black rings around the ankles.

Another bad habit was "stealing out". You could not go home without permission from the boarding house unless you want your parents to straighten your brain out with "kumo". In most cases students stole out because they felt they were in prison and would love to see the town or meet friends that were day-students. But if you were caught, you could be suspended so that you could get a good beating at home. This writer spent a suspension at day student house!

Holidays were the time to meet and plan parties together, especially for those of us that went to secondary schools outside the big cities. No matter how far we were from towns, mini buses from one motor park to another were good business during school holidays. Another chance to meet and make new friends. Time has changed. Parents now stay awake waiting for the safe return of their boys and girls from schools.

When we graduated from university we were looking forward to Volkswagen. The pride of "sisi come ride my Volks" was too much. We were not aware of any university graduates driving Peugeot, Volvo and Mercedes Benz. Those cars were for later stages in life. It was totally different from today where rich parents give their children luxury cars to drive and sometimes for drag racing on the few driveways that are not enough for the residents of the city.

How do we explain the same uncomfortable experience with local Police in African major cities? Most of these young Black boys have valid licenses and do not break any law. Yet they are pulled over for flimsy excuses asking for "particulars". They have been stopped for broken tail lights, hair styles or looking like Yahoo boys. They do not have the time to call their parents. In the first place it is not as deadly as in the Diaspora. The Police may not or may be justified on the suspicion of conspicuous display of wealth, drug peddling or ritual dealing.