A Twitter user with the profile, @tundeleye, wrote:
For most of us in our 30s and 40s, our parents held more assets and were taking care of a lot more people (larger nuclear families plus extended family members) on one hustle. Today, we’re on multiple hustles, hold fewer assets and still struggle to take care of smaller families.
Somehow this tweet threw me back to the “good old days”, when we were less afraid of anything. It’s not as if things were so wonderful then, but it wasn’t as scary as it is now. Then we could go to neighbours’ houses to play and eat without fear; except for the flogging that awaited us at home for eating in people’s houses to show that we “don’t eat at home”. But now, neighbours won’t even offer children food because they don’t want their parents to say they “poisoned their stars” or “transferred their stars” or even “initiated them into marine kingdom”. That’s how bad we have gone today; thanks to the people brainwashing us.
Anyway, like the Twitter writer observed, things seem to be getting harder and harder these days. I don’t know about you but I know that even though things are difficult today, it was not easy then. That our parents took care of multiple people does not mean they were so rich; it could mean they were willing to sacrifice their comforts and dreams to make that of their children and relatives come to pass. Apart from that, some lifestyles we have today do not exist in those days. For instance, then we ate more natural food and we didn’t take food to school. But today, we go for processed foods (some of which are expensive and unnecessary), eat multiple times a day (and even take food to school) and buy all our foods from the market (before, everyone had a farm).
But let’s compare our parent’s expenditure style and that of the present day young parents. I know I was too young to understand if things were too difficult for them or not (you actually understand how it is when you start sponsoring people’s expenditure), but I can tell some things I do today as a parent that my parents forwent.
I am a product of public schools – from primary to university. I went to school when there were only public schools and a few missionary schools for grooming priests and the religious. Then, it was easy for our parents to pay the school fees of multiple people – including that of extended family members – because the money was almost nothing. From what I learnt, education was at its cheapest during our time; my mother used to recount how her widowed mother had to struggle to pay her school fees and that of her siblings but it wasn’t like that in our time. We were that lucky. But now, we know what is going on. Even the members of extended family want you to send their children to private schools. Paying school fees today is denying a lot of us good night rest. So, let’s not blame the economy yet; it’s possible we are just entering another phase of development.
In case you want to accuse the government of killing the public school system, you need to understand that the public schools of those days that had good facilities were the ones owned by missionaries before they were taken over by the government. Today, those schools have been returned to their owners and the ones built by communities and some political office holders are the eyesores we’re seeing today.
As I mentioned earlier, in my days, we ate more natural healthy foods, most of which were produced from our farms. Then, it was expected of every man to own a farm (at least in Igbo land). Even when you stay in the city and can’t manage your farm, you sublet it to someone that will cultivate it and then share the produce at a certain ratio with you. Then, staple foods like garri were rarely bought in the market. But today, many people, me inclusive, don’t want to do anything with farms again; we buy ALL our foods from the market. Even the farmlands have been turned into residential houses or factories. Some of us have even sold off the lands our parents left for us to farm so we can use the proceeds to buy garri in the market. What an irony. So, as we calculate how much our parents spent, let’s remember they produced most of their foods. In fact, then, the higher the number of dependents in the family, the more the number of free farm workers.
- Desire for Ostentatious Goods and Luxurious Lifestyle
Our cost of living may actually be increasing because we desire to live in luxury and possess items that display wealth. Today, many of us own phones, which was luxury in those days. But that is not the issue; the problem right now is that the more expensive a phone is, the more we long to have it. Then, our parents buy jewellery as assets but we buy them today to show off. We want to put on the most expensive clothing, drive exotic cars, live in the most expensive parts of the city, go for holidays in Dubai, buy pizza and shawarma everyday (lol) and still live like our parents did. Not going to happen. We paved our own path; we have to pass through it.
The summary is, it wasn’t that easy for our parents to provide for us either. Yes, some changes have been made in the system, especially in the education sector, but that is the only path we didn’t create by ourselves. Any other challenges we are facing today is from our own volition. But then, we shouldn’t see them as struggle, but rather as a stage we have to pass to the next level.