They love my home: Reflections on this day of the African Child

Marie Abanga
Posted June 15, 2019 from Cameroon

I grew up in my childhood neighborhood and not just in our home; as simple as that. For the first 7 years of my life, I grew up going into different homes and learning all kinds of stuffs some of which shaped my life today. Back then, it was very safe for children to gather out and play all they wanted/needed, and eat in any home and some of us were only fished by our mums in whichever home we were at 6 pm.

Today, I am once more living in such a neighborhood and my home is one of those homes the neighborhood kids gather in to learn, play and get the hugs or candy they want/need. 

When I moved here in 2016, an alarming problem was the beating of children by their parents in a scary way. One day a child ran into my home bleeding, probably knew they would find refuge here. I don't beat like that or rarely even beat, and my last son who took that gene from me of 'galivanting the neighborhood' (to the point of being called 'chef du quartier' - something like the head of the neighborhood), is ever jovial and joyful, running to hug me on my return instead of hide out of fear. So that day, when that child came in, I hugged them, cleaned them up, made a cup of hot chocolate for them, and tugged them in my own bed to sleep. 

I waited for their mother to come looking for them. She came by 7 pm, fuming and shouting their name. I asked her to sit down and explain to me what they were teaching their child by their attitude. She thought that wasn't important and it was the dad who beat the child afterall. What did she do while he beat the child? She was a silent observer. What did the child do to get that? He didn't come back home directly from school and stopped by a friend's to play. Ah, I told that mother if I had to beat up my last son for that attitude too, I would have probably finished him by now. That I was instead making it more appealing for him to come back home straight from school, even if he went out to play later.

Another neighbour got me storming their home, telling them I was calling the police on them and accusing them of child abuse. 

My reputation as their advocate grew. They are all my children and they love coming over. Indeed, when I return from work, those who see me from a distance run to hug me. I have talked to our neighborhood gathering about sexual abuse and was told about a case of incest. I told them educating a child starts from home. Formal school can only do so much, and what they learn at home could even make them love or loathe going to school in the first place.

And so, on this special day to celebrate the African Child, I celebrate all the Angels in my neighborhood I am blessed to host ever so often. They come for various reasons. To learn on the big blackboard, to play in serenity, to get a candy or food, to tell me about their night like my bestie Ange Raphael does almost every morning.

Let's reflect on this day as parents (especially in Africa), what education we give our children at home to complement what they get in formal school. 

I look forward to speaking on the need to listen to our children come the 22nd at an event organized by an organisation called 'Save a Child Cameroon'. Gone are the days when it was popularly said "children should only be seen not heard". How can we even educate them without listening to them too?

Comments 9

Log in or register to post comments
Jill Langhus
Jun 16
Jun 16

Hi Lovely Marie,

This is lovely that your home is an open sanctuary for kids to convene, and learn at, but I am curious about what you're referring to beating? I used to think, not that long ago, that if the severity of the act was strong enough, to perhaps consider a spank, but now that I'm reading a book on discipline I realize that it totally doesn't make sense the way we were raised to discipline children. I knew in my heart it was wrong, but since I don't have children, I didn't think too much more about it, until I've been reading this book with my husband. Everything in it makes total sense, and comes down to just more respect and listening to the child, which you already know, and I did, too, but also first connecting with them. This is a novel concept to me. I rarely "connected" with my mom, or my dad and definitely not if we had done something "wrong" in their eyes. The threat, or the promise of physical abuse was ever present and enough to make us feel like we had to be "perfect" at all times, and unfortunately I still feel this way. The point being these young people are so impressionable and the way they are treated now is setting the foundation for their core beliefs and confidence for their lifetime. Of course it can be changed, but it wouldn't it, and, couldn't it, be way easier if parents were just respectful, listened to their children, and took a step back before being reactionary and thinking about their point of view first? I find it very disheartening to hear about abuse. Anyway, those are my thoughts on this. I do hope the future of parenting can, and will, change, for the better, and soon. Everyone's futures depend on it. The children are the future, of course.

I hope you're having a great day, dear.

Marie Abanga
Jun 17
Jun 17

Dear Jill,

The length of your comment tells the intensity of your thoughts. Beating is disciplining with many ridiculous spanks using hands, sticks, shoes, belts etc. That is the type I would get as a child and my mum would scream: " I would skin you alive.
I am happy to be in a position where I can love my inner child and all other children on my path the right way, without beating.
And yes, we have to pay the foundation for them as they grow up. Beating teaches violence as a means of discipline or conflict resolution and that's so wrong.
I am currently leaving a city in the south where I came for a 3 year Old's rape case in court.
She has taken to me, sometimes when I come it is either me or nada lol. My friends who come marvel and her mum says I have a magnet hahaha
Hope you are having a nice day

Jill Langhus
Jun 18
Jun 18

Hello Marie,

Yes...ha:-) You know me well!

Yeah, that's horrible. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I'm so glad you aren't perpetuating this so harmful pattern:-) And, that you've healed from it, too.

Yes, on perpetuation.

Aw:-) So sweet! She's fortunate to have you give her extra love, dear.

Namaste.

You, too:-)

Lisbeth
Jun 16
Jun 16

How lovely of you my dear sister. Actually you reminded me of my childhood. I never eat home ooo haha, only in the neighborhood. I never like my food in the house. But when i am with my friends and food is served "walaa" ;-).
With regards the beating I got one of such under my nose in my home. This time is the mother, if you see the way she beat just a two year child you will beat yourself. I am tired of intervening now I allowed her to beat them. Anyway, if the kid falls sick is their own responsibility.
Thanks for putting a smile on this kids faces. Have a nice weekend.

Marie Abanga
Jun 17
Jun 17

Dear sis,

Hahaha I hear you for the food. I am still learning to eat well when alone because we also grew up in an era where we were served together in a big tray and you tried your best lol.
I wonder why some parents bear their children that bad. I mean children are a gift from God and others would give all they could to have one of their own. I hope that mother comes to learn sooner than later what she is doing to herself, to the child and to their relationship o
Let's keep doing our mite
Lovely day

Lisbeth
Jun 18
Jun 18

I also wonder why too oo. If the kids were not her I would have thought other wise but hers. Weirdness!

Hello, sister Marie,

It’s nice to know the children in your community see your place as a safe haven. I’ve been beaten badly as a child, it has bad effects on me as an adult.

I’m glad that hug these children. I’ve read online articles on discipline that suggests, hugging is beneficial for children and even for us adults.

Thanks for being a light that shines so consistently in this dark broken world.

Marie Abanga
Jun 17
Jun 17

Hello Karen,
Hmm trust me I know first hand what adverse childhood experiences are. I was skinned alive more than once until dissociation was a near constant.
I made a promise to God loving children whether mine or not will be my priority when I grow up.
In my home, whenever I dare ask why it is scattered, they will ask me if I don't know my friends were around hahahaha.
Healing Hugs to your inner child

Oh, wow! That is so traumatic, but look at you now, there is no trace of that abuse anymore.

You’re a great woman warrior, dear sister. This world is a better place because of you.

Thank you! Hugs!