The holidays are always met with great excitement. After a long year of treacherous days at work and the general pains of an adult, the warmth of home is comforting. The initial excitement quickly dissipates, however, when you spend a couple of days at home. Most children will spend no more than a week at home to avoid some of the things on this list. These things may not apply to everyone, but some people might able to relate. It matters nothing that you get older and become an adult, in the eyes of an African parent, you are still their child. Therefore:


1) If you like to go out, you cannot come back home at dawn. No. Some parents still enforce the curfew you had before you left home for university.


2) If you like to stay in, you will have to watch bad African movies (and soapies) with them. There is no such thing as sitting in the garden alone and reading a book.


3) Whether or not you get along with your siblings, or if there is a huge age gap between you, you are expected to spend at least 2 days in each other’s company. If you are an only child, you will hang out with one of your cousins.


4) A lot of the conversations you have with your parents will be comparisons of how you were as a child and how much you have achieved (read grown) since then.


5) If they are proud of your achievements, they will boast about them to every person they meet on the street. Actually, all you need to have is a job.


6) You cannot sleep at a hotel for any reason whatsoever. Even if your grandmother/grandfather has taken over your bedroom because your parents are now taking care of them, you will sleep in the living room (or which ever other room is available) with the rest of your siblings until the holiday is over.



7) If you have a car or can drive a car (and you have a license), you will be the designated chaperone, chauffeur, delivery person etc.


8) At some point, you will drive to the rural areas to visit the rest of your family.


9) You will greet every relative with a kiss on the lips and they will greet you with a gasp followed by a “you have grown so much”. Remember Auntie Anna who chews tobacco? Yes, you have to kiss her too.


10)  If you are from a heavily religious household, it does not matter if you found the truth elsewhere; you will make time to go your parents’ church or any other congressional religious ceremony. At the very least you will have to drive Mom to and from church.


11)  And if your parents practice traditional ‘African’ rituals or customs, you are expected to take part. It is not an option. So, most of your holiday is spent hoping that none of your parents or relatives have a dream about a dead loved one.


12)  Being at home brings out your inner strategist as you try to find new and clandestine places to have ‘relations’. If you have a car, the possibilities are endless. This still holds true if you are married.


13)  If you are married and they do not like your spouse, you will suffer endless snide remarks about them. If you are not married, they will ask you incessantly “why aren’t you married yet?” and they will do everything they can to hook you up with someone whom they deem worthy before you leave.


14)  If your parents are very old-fashioned and you happen to bring home someone of a different race or religious denomination, the above process becomes incredibly hard. Indicators of whether or not your chosen partner will be accepted or not are statements they made around you when you were younger such as “He has dreadlocks? Does he smoke marijuana?”, “Arabians will make you a slave, my child”, “white people smell like wet cats”, “what are these West Africans eating mixing all their meats like that?” and “Is she Sotho? Do not take her to a horse ranch!” Sometimes their prejudices are more overt – “if you ever bring a white boy/girl into this house…!”


15) House chores. It does not matter what you have planned for that day, you are expected to do house chores. If you are the girl in the family, you will wake at twilight, sweep the yard and prepare breakfast for everyone. If you are a boy, you will do some landscaping. If there is a family gathering, the women are expected to cook, the men are expected to bandy together and slaughter a cow/goat/sheep.


16) At some point or other you will disagree about something and this conversation, depending on how much fear they were able to cultivate in you when you were younger, may or may not devolve into an argument about how disrespectful you are being for daring to challenge them.



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