You know for a long time the thought of shagz (my rural home) just made me sick. In fact I used to wonder why when we were small my parents insisted that every Christmas holidays were spent there.
Then the other day in the supermarket as I was doing my shopping I met this cute munchkin with her parents, doing their shopping too. The little girl could not stay at one place, she kept on jumping and randomly picking things from the shelves and opening some of them before they are paid for. At least I know in my country that is prohibited I don’t know if that applies to yours. At first I thought, “Wow that’s quite a handful”. Then she went and took a huge bar of chocolate and somehow the expensive ones are usually the reachable ones to the little ones I don’t know if this is a selling strategy or just the work of the devil. She was going to open it and was putting it in her mouth.
Her mother called her out and said something to her in German with a very harsh tone of course. How the kid returned the chocolate and went mute was priceless let alone the face she mad. In my head I kept on wondering how she was able to do that so quick, all I could think of was power of our native language and power of a mother.
The fact that at her age (and by the way she looked around five years old) she was able to understand German (her first language) that well wow!! Then you meet a Kenyan child and you are there trying to be cute and start a conversation with “sasa baby” and the kid tells you “I don’t understand Swahili” I find this really heart breaking. We are losing ourselves and our children to other cultures forgetting our own. Am sorry am a bit old school when it comes to this topic.
Am not against parents who expose their children to other cultures at a tender age, am just advocating for our own cultures to be taught first. The fact that children at a tender age have very good memory retention, we could use this to our advantage and teach them as much as we can. If just with Dora the explorer the child is able to speak very fluent English, imagine if you start introducing Swahili at home and a little of the mother tongue you will be surprised by the time the child is ten. Someone once told me if you want the child to master more than one language as you speak to them you tell them the same thing thrice in the three different languages. For example, baby eat/baby Kula/ baby chiem. And since kids don’t listen when you tell them something once you will find this habit coming to you automatically. I have just used language as an illustration it applies to manners, beliefs etc.
And I think now I understand why those trips to Usenge every Christmas holidays were compulsory, it was the only way our parents could get our full attention and also give my grandparents the chance to get to know us a little better and pass some wisdom down to us.
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots”-Marcus Garvey