African kids have what it takes to have an extraordinary childhood, filled with joy and laughter. They may not have many resources or opportunities to have new toys every Christmas, gifts on their birthday (that is if they or their parents can remember), have ice-cream and candy when they want or buy a new dress and shoes.
Life in a typical African village is like a routine. They carry out the same activities every day without getting bored or tired of them. Most African villages have their own calendars, with 8 days in a week instead of 7, and people are not allowed to the farm on 2 or 3 of those days. Since most Africans live on subsistence farming, the adults leave their homes early in the morning for their farms, while others go to hunt, tap palm wine and fish, and only go back home at sun set. The women then cook the meal for the day and the family gather around a fire to eat and share tales of the day’s experiences.
Most adults especially the men use the days on which farming is not allowed to socialize. They gather at the village pub or square, where palm wine and other locally brewed drinks are sold, to drink and have fun in their own way. The women make special meals for their families these days, then meet up with friends to gossip and get updates on the happenings in the village.
How African kids spend their childhood
When you see African children go about their daily activities, you will realise that the little things in life make one happy indeed. Most African children are not privileged to have the things which are considered by many as necessities for a happy childhood, especially toys and gadgets.
When these children are on leave from school, all they have to do is help their parents with house chores, such as cleaning and fetching water from the stream, which is usually very tough, as they have to walk long distances with huge water cans on their heads. Some of the older ones follow their parents to the farm, but come at midday while others stay home to take care of the house and watch over the younger kids
After they are done with their chores, all they want to do is play till they drop. They have amazing games which usually involve many kids, such as football, playing chase with tyres, dodging the ball; where two people shoot a ball; made out of rags, (the mischievous ones add small stones inside) for others to dodge. They also play “seezo” another form of jumping the rope, hide and seek and many others.
Some of the younger ones play house with rag dolls, while others use metal tins to “cook” their favourite meals. The older and more industrious kids build toy cars, planes, guns and any other thing their imaginations can create.
Many village homes do not have electricity, so those who can afford it usually have to host so many children especially on Sundays. The children visit these house to catch a glimpse of television. It’s amazing to see how they almost scrub their skins off just to be clean enough to be allowed into the village rich man’s home.
Challenges of growing up in an African village
The unfortunate thing about growing up in an African village is children do not have the opportunity to enjoy their childhood to the fullest. They are usually given responsibilities at very tender ages, which prevents them from having time to hang out and play with their friends as they should.
Other kids grow up as weaklings because of malnutrition and illnesses. Such children are unable to enjoy their childhoods as much as the healthy ones. Others are not opportune to go to school because they are from very poor homes and their parents are unable to pay for their school fee. These children are usually very miserable when they have to stay home or follow their parents to the farm while their age mates are in school.
Because of the poor living conditions in these villages, some kids are forced to move to urban areas to look for petty jobs or work as house maids so they can assist their parents. This situation usually leads to child labour, prostitution and child trafficking.
AFRIC editorial article