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Family is still it…

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Smiling family sitting in bed together


By next month, it will be yet another ‘remembrance’ of a deceased relative of mine. She was someone we all looked up to, someone who seemed to have it all-because this was exactly the impression she fed us.

It was after her death that numerous ‘ugly tales’ started springing up about her marriage and I could not help thinking about the burden she’s had to bear alone-all the while we thought she had it all. She kept a happy face for the family, confided in a few outsiders who could not lift a finger to come to her aid and certainly didn’t want to leave their comfort zones to meddle in another’s affair.

Well, all that is history now. It’s just that I have never stopped wondering how many of us give HAPPY/SMILING FACES to our families, when we are actually dying within us.I am beginning to notice that it’s actually easier for people to share their intimate worries with outsiders, than it is for them to bother with their family.

Reason it’s often opined that ‘”family is not always blood’’ but anybody who respects and gives you joy.I do not know why things have taken this turn for the worse but it used to be the other way round. Family used to be one another’s pillar of support and strength but these days, one doesn’t know if or not to blame THE UNWILLING (to confide in his/her family) or the family that ISN’T there for their own-because everybody is busy minding their own business.

This minding one’s business of a thing doesn’t only obtain in this environment, it’s even worse in the Western world but then, those societies seem to have a better “control” on emotional issues.That is, they have devised other means of support system (i.e. therapy efforts, counselling, life coaching, support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, rehabilitation structures, etc).Here, most people turn to pastors for even issues that they do not have the competence to handle.

That is, Pastors (poor things!) are readily moulded into a ONE SIZE FITS ALL, here…even when an issue is purely medical or psychological.Yet, some of them don’t disappoint these days.Pata pata…you will be told that some witch or wizard from your family is behind your woes. I only weep for the families that such ‘pastors’ verdicts’ have further alienated.

It worries me because these deceits end up further isolating “the troubled” from a family that is best poised to give him/her an emotional succour.I simply wish we could decide to go back to our roots and begin to nurture stronger family ties-the way it used to be.

The beauty of the African tradition is that value that is placed on the FAMILY.If you have problems, do not bear it alone, do not die in silence, talk to your family. Always recognise that you are no stranger to them, you are one of them. Don’t let your problems or outsiders be a wedge between you and those that share the same blood relationship with you.

Families should also learn to be there for one another, deliberately check on each other, seek out one another’s joy, watch each other’s back but, most importantly, be there when they need a lifting hand, when they need a shoulder to cry on or when they simply need a listening ear. Don’t brush them aside, no matter what-only for you to start having regrets when your ‘cold’ shoulders have driven them to the grave.

I know families where siblings don’t call one another –year in, year out, except when someone dies and everybody has to come for the funeral, families where there is plenty, yet some of their own live in lack. When was the last time you had a good look at your sibling/relative and realised he/she isn’t looking well? Did you try finding out what the problem could be or you chose to mind your business? Africans were never known to be insensitive to their own, where could we have gone wrong?

For the family to be what (the centre of our world) it used to be, there is a task before each and every one of us!Nobody who has FAMILY (parents, siblings, relatives or even friends) should ever feel certain loneliness, misery or dejection.It is time to search our souls to determine how much of a lifting hand, a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear that each of us has tried being to ‘family’.

I am aware that some of us come from families where the closeness has never been there or just not possible, anymore.But I still say…when needed of you-please be there.The regret/guilt of ‘not trying hard enough’ is most killing…when a loved one is no more!


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Chukwuneta Oby
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