There is a joke in many African societies that when a child does well, the father calls the child his own, but when the child does badly; he says the child is like the mother. I used to think that it was a funny joke, until I became a teacher. As a teacher, I realized that “a child is truly the mother”. The father might have a role to play in being present in the child’s life, in terms of discipline and leading by example, but ultimately, a child is truly the mother.
The average human being forms his or her personality within the first seven years of existence. At this age, the child is not only mainly around the mother, but this is the time the child lays a foundation for attitude, habits, speech, courage, understanding, and social skills. At school, whenever we had a teacher-parent meeting, I usually tried to be the last to speak. I spent my time observing the parents and their personalities. I observed that the average child may have a habit and two qualities of the father, but the rest was the mother’s. The child may look like the father, speak like him, have the same body language, or a combination of some qualities, but the attitude in class, mentality towards education, respect for teachers, and the way they saw the world was their mother’s.
In regards to my bad students, many of they had no father. It could be that their fathers left, they never had a father, or their father worked out of town on weekdays. They had mothers who procreated with men who were not interested in the life of their children, mothers who believed that they did not need a man, or a mother who hid information from her husband or child’s father. The mothers usually had to work two jobs to meet up, forgets to turn in her forms, never attends school meetings or is always late, children are never aware of school events, wonders what the purpose of education is, confuses rudeness for being strong, always trying to find out how she can pin her child’s misbehavior on the teachers, and sometimes promises punishment for the child, but almost never follows through. The children never change because their behavior is the acceptable norm in their homes. Each time I report an incident to their father, no matter how far away he lives; there is an immediate change in the child’s behavior for at least a week or two.
So the quality of a child’s life is directly proportional to the quality of the lives of women. This means that for any nation to be successful in all and any aspect of life, a nation must pass laws that guarantee and protect the happiness, well-being, education, and socio-politics of women. This is because they ultimately determine the success and failure of a nation’s future. These laws are not meant to be used to punish or oppress the men in their lives, or to scare them away from marriage, but it is to be used to produce and raise quality children that will be great leaders, competent parents, wonderful spouses, and role model for the next generation.
How does this affect the African continent and many third world nations? In many places around the continent, it is the boys that are sent to school and not the girls. They claim that education and inheritance are for boys. We fail to realize that a man is an individual but the woman is the society. A man tends to see life through himself, but a woman sees life through the children. What is good for the man may not be in the interest of the family, but what is good for the children is for the interest and future of the nation. Laws must be passed in Africa that all girls and women must be educated, especially before marriage and reproduction. We need all women to have the required education to know their rights, appreciate their civil and political responsibility, know how to organize, understand and apply laws, and demand higher quality of life for their children.
The reasons why I say this is that if women are not equipped with knowledge to instill in their children in their first five years, it almost become too late when these children are grown. Illiteracy of women is too high in African countries. In many African homes, the women have no voice, no rights, no education, no money, and no power, so they raise their children in fear of everything. The children grow to be extremely careful and unnecessary obedient even when they are oppressed. They do not know their rights early in life and so grow up to be adults that do not know how to demand it. By the time they grow up to make a change, corruption, illiteracy, oppression, and mismanagement has already become the established system and order of the day. The only was to change the destiny of any nation towards progress is to make sure that their women are educated and empowered.