Growing Up African: What I Hated And What I Loved

Growing up African was honestly a blessing and a curse to me at the same time. There were some things I loved about it and some things I absolutely hated about it. But before I dive into why I’m making such a statement, let me give you a bit of my background.

So for those of you who are new here to the blog, I’m Nigerian. More specifically, I am Igbo.

Currently, I don’t reside in Nigeria, but I did spend a chunk of my life there before moving to the United States.

Being in the States has definitely opened my eyes to a whole new perspective of life, therefore, I felt the need to speak about my experience growing up African.

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What I loved

  • Culture

Culture is a big deal in Africa. Although it’s the number one cause of division in Africa, it does promote good morals. I honestly believe the African culture allowed me to be more respectful, goal-driven, and mindful of other people. Plus, it opened me up to various types of foods and music of many ethnic groups.

Related Post: Nigerian Jollof Rice Recipe

  • Community

Honestly, this is one thing I enjoyed most about Nigeria. People were always willing to help and contribute. If you wanted to start a business today, you could easily find a connection to help out in the process.

Over here in the States, things are a bit different. Finding help isn’t as easy as back home. And oftentimes, help might require you to put down a ton of money which a lot of people can’t afford.

I also like that labor doesn’t cost a ton in Africa. Like the other day, I ended up paying over $300 to fix a problem in my car that would normally cost around $30 in Nigeria.

  • Jokes 

Africans can make a joke out of every and anything. In fact, some insults we say are just jokes in disguise. We Africans laugh and joke about the most mundane things. Plus, our use of “ing” in words that don’t need it makes a lot of our sentences sound so funny.

I also loved how a lot of our jokes involved correcting people’s grammatical errors; Using words like “Gbagaun” to highlight the mistake.

Till today, I still constantly find myself watching African comedy. It just never gets old.

  • Dedication

I truly believe my African upbringing helped me become very goal-oriented and dedicated. With the rate of poverty and poor governance system in most African countries, it’s safe to say that our environment does produce very high achieving individuals.

Poverty does cause a person to become very hardworking, especially if the person intends to break a cycle that has existed for several generations. And in my situation, I believe the desire to stay away from poverty did push me to become very dedicated to my work.

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What I hated

  • Religion

I believe one of the biggest issues facing most African countries is the fact that its people are too religious.

Innovation is almost impossible in Africa because many people still hold on to their religious beliefs that ultimately block creativity. Not only that, but many even use religion to make various life decisions for themselves.

I see Africans who consult their pastors about their business decisions instead of meeting an actual professional. Some don’t even believe in medicine but instead consult their pastors for healing.

Although I do believe in the power of God, I still believe God created these professionals for a reason. Apparently, a large majority of African people would rather trust their pastors than their doctors.

  • Lack of mental health awareness

Mental health is still something that Africans don’t pay much attention to. I personally believe religion plays a role in this issue because many still aren’t aware that mental illness is still an illness.

One could be suffering from depression and have many Africans turn a blind eye to it. It is even so bad that people use phrases like “get over it” when addressing individuals who suffer from these mental health issues.

I recently had an uncle who suffered from depression and passed away as a result of it. No one knew what he was battling until after his passing.

It’s about time we develop empathy and start dealing with these mental health issues instead of dusting it under the carpet.

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  • Lack of empathy 

This is where parenting comes into play because I honestly believe narcissism is high in African societies. Our culture focuses so much on success and achievement that causes many parents to put academic pressure on their children.

In African societies, most parents tend to praise high achievement and shun average achievements, which often leads a child to believe that in order to be valued, they need to be more successful. Such parenting eventually breeds narcissists.

I truly believe that many African leaders of today are narcissistic hence why the continent is still struggling.

  • Educational System 

The system of education is still a huge problem in Africa. There tends to be more focus on the theoretical aspect of education than the practical aspect, which can make learning quite difficult.

Not everyone has a vivid imagination. Most importantly, not everybody learns by reading. Some individuals are visual learners, while some are not.

I feel it’s important for us as Africans to work on improving the practical aspect of our education system.

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  • Pride 

This ties with the narcissism point I discussed earlier, but it’s still one thing I hated growing up African.

Statements like “do you know who I am?” were always used as a way to demand respect. Even not putting titles like “Dr” “Lawyer” “Prophet” “Engineer” “Architect” before a person’s name was an issue for many people.

This need to be seen and respected was so common while growing up that I often felt so disgusted by it.

Hopefully, we Africans learn respect within ourselves first before seeking it from others.

If you’re African, what are some things you loved and hated growing up African? Let me know in the comments below.

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