I was driving at 20km on the untarred and bumpy street. Rows of shops lined the street all the way down to my children’s school. I maneuvered the car carefully taking note of the fact that it was a street plied mostly by children walking to school. Rows of shops lined the right and the left of the street; most of them selling biscuits and sweets making them readily available for children on their way to school.
Suddenly, a little boy, probably aged three, ran out of one of the shops on my right. I slammed on the brakes and came to an abrupt stop. The little boy unaware that he had run right into the front of my car and narrowly escaped an accident, continued to play and run around as if nothing was amiss. A guy walking past, looked towards the row of shops and shouted. “Who get this pikin?”
His mother who was probably too busy to notice what had happened heard the question and ran out of her shop. She carried the boy and spanked his bum. The boy burst into tears immediately as she pushed him into her shop.
The guy who had witnessed the whole scenario said as he walked past my car; “Na so Yoruba people dey do. Dem no go take care of their pikin.”
I looked at him immediately and corrected the notion. “I am Yoruba and I take care of my children.” I faced the woman and said to her. “Kíni ë wá n na ömö yën fún (Why are you spanking the child?). Tó bá jé pé ë mó jú to ni, ë ò ní jé kí n wón ma sòrò sí wa (If only you had watched over your child, we would not have been insulted).
Did she care about what I said? I have no idea and did not wait to get a response from her as I drove off immediately.
I was walking on a relatively busy street early in the morning. Even though, cars were not speeding by, the road was curved and most cars had to honk to notify other cars coming in the opposite direction. There were cars parked on the left and on the right of the street and this further hampered the line of vision of both the driver and the pedestrian. A car was coming down my way on the right while some men sat under a shed on my left.
“Ë dúró sí bè. Ë má ì tíì lö.” (Wait there. Don’t go yet). I heard them call out to my right.
I looked to my right and saw two little children walking very close to the gutter. The girl could not have been more than four or five and she held her little brother’s hand who looked too young to be in school. They both wore uniforms, had knapsacks on their backs and held lunch boxes.
The car drove past and the men called out to them. “Óya, ë lè ma lö. Ibè yën ni ke ti rìn o. Ë má rìn ní títì.” (You can go now. Walk on that path. Don’t walk on the street).
As I walked past the men, I overheard them discussing about how a mother would leave such little children to walk to school alone. I shook my head as I walked away.
Was the guy in scenario 1 right to have said it was a Yoruba thing? Or are women now so confident to believe children at that age can take care of themselves? Or is education playing a factor in parental care?
My fellow Yoruba mothers, have your say. To the Igbo and Hausa mothers; have you also experienced this? I would like to hear from all.