So, every time report card season would come, most Tanzanian parents would start with a story. I later found out many of my friends were told a very similar story. It went (or perhaps still goes) a little bit like this:
‘In my days I always came first in my class.’ And then they all add a personal twist. This was my father’s:
”I had to put in extra study time so I would read on the corridor next to the bathroom because that is where the light bulb was. I never played cards (his efforts to make sure I’d never consider poker as a social activity) and I always took all my subjects very seriously.”
Now, I have to say that after the 6th grade I didn’t buy the whole ‘all parents came first’ story because surely, someone had to come last (or second?). But the rest of it I doubt was fabricated. I grew up looking at my parents as heroes because they had to overcome a lot of things. And I suppose they told us such stories to let us know where they came from and how much better things were for us.
So, what is the moral of this story? One, dear parents, it’s okay to tell us that you worked hard in school because the pressure to always try to come first is a bit much for some. And second? With everything that is provided to us these days there is so much more we can achieve. I know some people still have the perception that Africa is full of uneducated uninspired youths who wait for aid to get things done. This is not true. Older generations inspire us to do better, and go further. Some people may still have to study by candlelight but you know what, the hunger to improve one’s livelihood is motivation enough for them to do the necessary to achieve their goals.
Hopefully with time one day the youth will not have to read by candle light, but till then? The struggle continues.