The thing about posting something like ‘Childhood is sweet’ on Facebook is that you get to see angry kids come and attack you. It’s like they have their own association. Maybe something along the line of Association of Nigerian Kids on Facebook (ANKF). And they have meeting days. Venue is a secret Facebook group. What will happen is that one of them will see your ‘Childhood is sweet’ post and inform the others. And then their president will call an emergency meeting and before you know it, the group is active. They will talk about your stupid post and how they are going to bring it down. And then the president will share them into groups. One group will be in charge of Comments. These guys are the ones to bombard your post with wicked, rude and insulting comments. And because you don’t knows what’s happening in the Kid’s world, you just smile when you see notifications that twenty four people have commented a post you put up just some three minutes ago. And then you will get there and receive the shock of your life. ANKF has ruined you. Nothing could be worse than this.
Anyways, this is a blog so we are save, ba? Now let’s move on. We’ll come back to that later.
When you saw that title, what came to your mind? Managing Your Freedom? Does that sound like something written by John Maxwell or Joyce Meyer? Well, it’s not.
There are some things that we were not allowed to do when we were small which we really wished we could do. It was annoying that these people called parents would not allow us to do it. It was fun. As though, by not doing it, we were not being kids. We were not fulfilling purpose. For instance, while I was small, I was not allowed to run or play football. And as most of you might know, nothing could be worse than telling a boy not to play football while his mates play in front of him the whole day. That was what happened to me. Then, it was an annoying thing. But now, I’m grateful for it. I know there was no how they could explain to a small me that there is something inside me called bronchioles and trachea and all that.
There is however one thing that must be noted. I was prevented from playing football and running then. But now, I can no longer be prevented. But also, I can no longer do it. I now have the freedom but I can not misuse it. I have learnt how to manage my freedom.
Now, I said ‘Childhood is sweet.’ I know that sounds like a lie to you. And honestly, sounds like one to me too. But here is what I mean. When you are small, you have no responsibility. Your parents, guardians or teachers are responsible for anything that happens to you. You don’t have to worry about ‘what dollar is saying in the market’. You don’t have to decipher why Mark decided to visit the Kenyan government and not the Nigerian government. And then why he had to come back to do so. You don’t have to worry about why a loaf of bread is being sold at N100 in OAU now. You don’t have to worry about the rumours of cultism we are hearing. Whether Bihari decided to go for second term or not, your breakfast is still your breakfast. The sun will keep rising the East and never in the West.
Childhood is sweet. People do things for you. They wash for you. They cook for you. They even think for you. As I’m typing this now, I’m thinking of how to wash the heap of dirty clothes I have waiting for me. As a kid, you are free from all these. So, Association of Nigerian Kids on Facebook, you are enjoying.
Now, your freedom is limited. For the big boys in secondary schools, you want freedom more than Awolowo wanted it for Nigeria. You are tired of being sent errands. You are tired of being told not to go to that party. You are tired of being told to stay away from that fine girl next door. For those of you in Unity schools, you are tired of night reading classes. You are tired of dining hall food. You want to scale the fence. You want to watch football. You want to wear muftis. You want to nurture your Afro and carry it to class one day. You want to spend the whole night with that girl talking only God- knows-what. You want to make some noise. You want freedom.
Don’t worry. You will have it. What maters most is whether or not you will be able to manage it. While we were in secondary school, there were so many things we were not allowed to do. But now, there is freedom. Here, you can spend the whole week in your room snoring and dreaming about receiving a handshake from Wole Soyinka. You want to spend the night with your girl, don’t worry. You have the whole 24 hours to yourself. You want to nurture Afro? You are allowed. You can even try Pa James. You are tired of night reading cases? It is not compulsory here. You want to go to parties? There are parties here every single night. You want to cook abi? You will cook and get tired of cooking. You want to wear muftis? You are free.
These things are what I can decide to do now. No one is watching anyone. Mummy is not here. Daddy is miles away. I’m free. I can decide not to go to classes and attend parties. But I just don’t do that. Why?
Secondary school or wherever you are now is a place of training. You are curtailed. They are preparing you for your freedom. So that when you finally have it, you won’t misuse it. They are showing you only important football matches in Unity schools so that when you get here and have access to football 24/7, you won’t go about doing that. I once told one of my friends that I wish we can have dining halls here. There are times when you are just too tired of cooking.
I know this might sound hard. Learn to live a curtailed life. Learn to live that restricted life now so that when the freedom comes, you will know how to manage it. I have the freedom to do so many things now, but I don’t do them. I can decide to start running from Amphitheater to Awolowo Hall now. No mummy will call me back. But I won’t. Why? Because I know the consequences. I am now on my own and I take responsibility for whatever happens to me. I have the freedom but I have also learnt the management.
There are some things that I want to do now. I want to drive a car. I want to live in a castle. I want to travel to England and have a house in Miami. I want to give a speech at Harvard and do things. But I can’t now. Where I am now is a training ground. This dirty hall that has no toilets is a barrack. I’m learning here so that when I finally move to that castle in England, I will know how to value it. My movements are restricted to Nigeria now so that when I’m free, I won’t turn to ‘Ajala travelled all over the world’.
So folks, where you are now is a training ground. Just be patient. Relax in your restricted zone. Freedom is coming. You will enjoy it, if only you can learn to manage it.
Happy New Weekend.