Changing Times

by Oliver Mbamara

An Editor of a popular African Newspaper based in New York, recently wrote an article in which he gave very thoughtful reasons why he and his wife decided to send their son home to Nigeria. The young man in question is now in Nigeria. After going through the article, I thought that the idea was commendable. It is an investment of the child in the child’s own future for the child’s own good in particular and for the good of the society in general.

However, a gentleman from Atlanta in the United States wrote in and disagreed with the opinion of the Editor on the issue. To the extent that morality has no single definition, I agree with the gentleman. In fact, there is no universal standard for morality but I must add that the orientation of man is rooted in his cultural society. Make no doubt about it, America has a wonderful society with lots of opportunities yet it is a community of varying immigrants and this could be confusing to children being raised in the America society by parents of different or foreign cultural orientation. To this end, the reiteration of a child’s culture in a child’s personality could be revealing and clarifying. It could turn out to be the greatest gift needed by the child to thrive as an individual anywhere.

You have to be caught in between cultures or races for you to appreciate the point. The time will come when this young man will become a man of his own. At that time, he will come to appreciate what his parents have done for him, more than he will ever fathom at the moment. When I was very young, I wondered if my father hated me, simply because the man stood his ground and insisted that I should follow his disciplinary directives or be dealt with in his own way. And there was no Administration of Children Services to intervene.

I look back at those days and I cannot stop thanking him for being very strict with me when I was being raised. The man I am today and most of the little I have achieved in life today is credited to the discipline with which my parents and our traditional society raised me. In place of my doubts in those days about my father’s affection for me, I now have such profound gratitude and love for him. And my prayers are for God to keep him for a while to enjoy the fruits of the effort he invested in raising us (his children) with such discipline as he did.

Let me say that this commentary is not really about sending children home, it is about having tomorrow in mind while living today. Children will be children, and childhood is a process that is necessary for adulthood, but the line must be drawn between youthful exuberance and youthful destruction. Life and man will continue to evolve and undergo metamorphosis. It is therefore essential not to get carried away by any present circumstance because there will always come the time when we are called upon to account for how we have used our time and life.

Religion reminds us of the judgment after life, but there is also the judgment within life, which is ultimately carried over to the next life if it is not fully settled in the present life. Some religions refer to this as the law of Karma, while others call it the law of retribution, and yet, some others simply refer to it as reaping what you sow or the law of give and take. The same principle of life is recognized as the law of action and reaction even by those who rather believe in Physics. How we use our today (whether it be our youth, present business, relationship, or preoccupation) determines what we will gain or lose tomorrow. The question then is: when tomorrow comes, can we look back and say that we did make good use of our yesterday or did we abuse it? When old age comes, can we really look back to our youth and say that we did prepare for old age or will we simply lie on our bed and sadly go on reciting our regrets?


When thy youth is set to leave
He said his voice so deep and soft.
And it is thy old age time to race,
But old age only can drag and shove,
Will some youth be in thee reserved?
To give support to thy old age race?
Or will thy habits be stuck in thee
To spoil thy fun of old age rest?

Again I ask thee he reached to him,
When thy youth is set to flee,
And the fountain of youth in thee
Has reached its topmost peak at end,
And old age knocks the door of life,
What in thee will flee with youth?
And what in youth will stay in thee
To keep the company old age craves?

I speak, I ask, but I tell thee too
He said with piercing eyes of blue,
Though thy aim when young is wild,
Do watch and make thy self to know:
When thy freedom is spent in waste,
Cause fun and joy in youth abused,
Becomes a debt when old to pay,
For what you sow is what you reap.

You may also like

Leave a Comment