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Daddy, Don't Be A Fool!

From African Abroad
April 15, 2002

By Mr. Alex Kabba, African Abroad Senior Editor

Lady Okonkwo, (not real name), a Nigerian Immigrant and a Registered Nurse (RN) with a New York area Hospital will never forgive herself. Some three decades ago, Okonkwo came to America with her husband, Dr. Okonkwo, to study. After their studies, they started work in New York and had three children, two girls and a boy. After surveying the American society and its attitudes towards the rearing of children, family sources told African Abroad (AA), Dr. Okonkwo confided in his wife that they should relocate back to Nigeria so that their children could be rooted in the "more disciplined African culture." According to the source, Lady Okonkwo flatly refused her husband’s request, preferring instead to stay in America with the children. Dr. Okonkwo relocated back to Nigeria alone.

Today, Lady Okonkwo is full of regret at her decision. Her three children, who are now adults, have completely shunned anything Nigerian and prefer to refer to themselves as Americans and say that it is only their parents who are Nigerians. They never mix with Nigerians or any Africans for that matter and cannot even speak any of the African languages. What pained Lady Okonkwo most was the decision of her son, (name withheld), to marry an older American lady who already has three children outside of wedlock with two different men. Her other two girls now have a problem with dating because "they will not date African men and Black American men look at them as foreign even though they were born in the U.S."

Ike Enwereuzor, an American-born Nigerian sports writer based in New York does not have this crisis of identity afflicting the Okonkwo’s family. Enwereuzor, whose parents are both Nigerians, told AA that there is nothing like a child having his formative years in Africa because of the lack of discipline in American society and its schools. "I am forever grateful to my father for sending me back to Nigeria as a young man to learn the culture of respect, discipline, self worth and the dignity of labor," said Enwereuzor. "Granted that my father used to spank me when I misbehaved and was caned at school by teachers and students in upper class. What the heck! It is better for me because I escaped the gang culture of America and will never pick up a fight with an armed cop to send me to an early grave and have the self respect not to regard welfare as a solution to being lazy."

Chief Felix Ugbode, CEO of Paulson Security Inc. in New York who raised his kids in America is full of regret for doing so. "Knowing what I know now, I would never have brought up my children in America. The culture is totally anti-good parenting."

The American culture which has been encoded into its laws criminalize discipline of any kind on a child. This is termed child abuse. African parents who want to instill the rigid African culture of spanking the child to correct aberrant behavior in their children are hauled before law courts for child abuse charges and the children forcibly removed from them and placed in government-administered foster homes.

There are however other reasons why the practice of Africans sending their children back home to Africa for their formative years are on the rise. According to an African CPA in Brooklyn, who does not want his name in print, he sent his two kids to a private school in Abuja for economic reasons as well as for them to imbibe the culture of discipline. "My wife is a student in a New Jersey school. I am the only one working. How do wed take care of two kids on a lean budget of expensive private schools and sky-high day care services?" he asked. He told AA that it cost him 270,000 Naira (about $2,000) per year for the boarding and tuition of one of his kids at a private school in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. "When a 13-year-old starts saying, ‘daddy, don’t be a fool!’ you know there is a problem. The American system gives the children so much freedom to misbehave that at the end of the day, they become uncontrollable and are either lost to the gangs or are murdered by rogue cops intimidated by the sight of a young black kid with an attitude."

Child welfare experts told African Abroad that parents wishing to raise their children in Africa must first agree together to avoid trouble with the law. Longy Anyanwu, the Nigerian-born former computer Professor at the Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ ran afoul of the American child welfare laws because he did not agree with his wife on the best place to bring up their children. Edith Anyanwu, his former wife, alerted the authorities that her husband "kidnapped" their tow children and sent them to Nigeria. A New Jersey court ordered Long Anyanwu to bring his American-born children back to America within three days. When he refused, Longy was held in contempt for four years by Supreme Court Judge Salem V. Ahto from which he was released only three weeks ago after the only surviving child, Ubechi, 16, (Ogechi, 11, the other child, died in Nigeria) told Judge Ahto that she would like to complete her education in Nigeria. The child’s decision prompted the release of Anyanwu from jail.

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