What African Parents Should Do If We Are to Raise More Innovative Children

A quick story...

Last week, I held an interview with a gentleman. I intentionally turned his chair so that it could face the direction of sun rays that were permeating my office window.

To my surprise, he also just sat on the chair and accepted to be interrupted by the sun rays throughout the interview.

At the end of the interview, when I asked him why he hadn't switched the direction of the chair to make sure it was comfortable for him. Which in turn would help him perform better in the interview since he'd be at ease?

He replied that "because that's how I found it. I thought that's how you wanted it." Absolute bullshit.

Now, let's go...

Often times, African parents get to interact with their children when they're in a rush or tired. I mean let's review a timetable for a parent, especially in an economy like Uganda (where I reside).

You wake up at around 6 am and prepare for work. At the same time, your kid(s) wake(s) up but both you and the kid are in a rush to work and school respectively.

If you own a car, then you sit the kid either at the back or in front and off you go. As you drive to the kid's school, you switch on your favorite morning radio show.

When the kid tries to ask questions, you either shut them up or try to answer haphazardly. Not giving them a comprehensive answer and attention.

The above is repeated in the evening - for an African parent that picks up their kids themselves.

For those who don't, you get back home from work at around 8 pm - partly due to the traffic jam. Then dump your bag on your couch/sofa and grab the remote to watch NTV at 9 or NBS - whatever works for you.

If the kid isn't yet asleep, you remind them that it is late - they should get ready. Any form of questioning or curiosity is subjected to similar responses of shut up or vague responses.

This is repeated over and over and over again. And people ask how we should be able to churn out innovative men and women when curiosity is trampled on by the very men and women supposed to be nurturing and upholding it?

An African parent needs to realize they play a significant role in whether their kids will turn out innovative and "rebellious" or just docile sheep that will be led to the slaughterhouse any time and day.

If we continue with this routine, we shall continue churning out kids that date people they don't love, do jobs they don't like, are comfortable being mediocre and believe their skin or gender is inferior to the other.

On the contrary, if we're to change and start churning out "rebels" and innovators, we need to change the approach. We need to pay more attention to our children.

Let's encourage them to question our decisions. Tell them that it is not okay to accept something that is not ok. Let them question the status quo.

Even though you settled for far less than you wanted, tell them you made a mistake. Let's stop hiding under the rotten blanket of African Culture.

Other than that, let's stop talking about innovation instead debate how we can be better slaves to the innovative countries and economies.

Digest Africa

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