By Jude Eze
In the words of one of the most electric and practical child-rearing experts in contemporary times, Dr. Ron Taffel: “even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.”
This didactic advisory re-echoed in my ears three times in four years. The first time it rang was in June 2018, when ace Singer, Daniel Oyebanjo, more popularly known by his stage name D’banj lost his little son to drowning in his family pool in Lagos. Then followed the July 2021 setting ablaze of Ebeano Plaza Abuja by a 9-year–old girl child. Then followed this current heart-rending tragedy of David Adeleke (Davido’s) son — Ifeanyi Adeleke’s drowning in the family swimming pool.
The news traumatized many Nigerians. No one can fathom the horrific sight of burying one’s own child. Davido and his fianceé, Miss Chioma Rowland, must have been broken to the marrow. It was bone-chilling.
Meanwhile, something awry happened within the cyberspace, as people reacted to the sad event — uncensored vituperation.
The height of emotions and mixed tumult that trailed the news of Master Ifeanyi’s death inadvertently confirmed the notion that black people are more emotional than Caucasians. This was a hypothesis held by several researches spanning over five decades. Two separate research works published in National Library of Medicine, Maryland, U.S, titled: “Anger in black and white: race, alienation, and anger” and “Ethnic and racial differences in emotion perception,” upheld this consensus.
It explains why majority of the blacks (Nigeria inclusive) exude edgy reactions to situations. Hasty judgment, which often times implicates ignorance is prevalent under such circumstances.
Recall how Charlie Boy threw caution to the wind and broke the decorous orderliness of Catholic liturgies during his father, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa’s, burial Mass in Oguta, Imo State, in June 2014. He sprang up and snatched microphone from then governor Rochas Okorocha, who was called upon by the presiding bishop to deliver a condolence message. Charlie Boy did the awry stuff, allegedly fearing that the governor may opt to use his father’s death to score cheap political points. Okorocha in return left the Mass with his aids in venomous anger.
That’s how uncanny a typical African can be in matters that demand, rather, a discrete personal discernment.
When the news of little Master Ifeanyi’s tragedy came, opinions were sharply divided between two interconnected reactions. Some, sounding like puritans condemned the apparent negligence on the part of the parents, custodians and minders of the innocent child, blaming the death on carelessness. Others saw those who hold this view as fiendish sadists who choose to grandstand instead of mourning the dead.
Of these two set of critics, there exists a thick line of sympathy for the late lad and his family. Both critics are interconnected by their love for the boy and his parents. While the former choose to apportion blame, and forewarn against future occurrence, the latter think that the devastated state of the parents’ minds was not ripe for such advisory.
The truth is that we can’t run away from the hurtful reality. It is in accepting a discomforting present like this, that we can forestall unforeseen recurrence in the future. Yes the did is done, but how do other parents benefit from it?
Even in aviation sector, post air crash analysis is performed to determine the cause of errors once an accident has happened. In modern aviation industry, it is also used to analyze a database of past accidents in order to prevent future accidents from happening.
Post mortem is a practice in medicine carried out to determine the cause of death. Although, some prefer to call it “medicine after death” it is nonetheless a preventive medicine insofar as its result is used to block future recurrence.
Several foundations have been formed by parents and guardians of past accident victims to prevent other people from experiencing their bitter ordeals.
Following series of road accidents that walloped lives of innocent kids to-and-fro schools across the country, Children Accident Prevention Initiatives (CAPI) was launched under the Federal Ministry of Education in 2012. CAPI was born out of the need to arrest the rising increase of road traffic crashes involving school children in the 21st century, as a result of the upsurge in vehicular traffic, expansion and construction of an additional network of roads, establishment and construction of more schools along major roads and highways across the country.
But the question remains, are we disposed to learning anything from antecedents? If we are, D’banj’s son’s ill-fate four years ago would have served a scary preventive caveat to the Adelekes.
It therefore follows that for the future not to remain the same again, we have to learn to attend to the present with tamed emotion.
The children’s day celebration of 1992 left bitter memory in old Isi Uzo LGA of Enugu State. Each year, while schools mobilized to the local government headquarters at Ikem for match past, ebonyi Ikem river served as nature’s recreational facility for the pupils. Contingents will gleefully shuttle between the match past arena and the river; to swim to their full in the fresh water before the occasion ends. On that fateful day, one of the many kids that swam in the river got drowned. The tragedy threw the entire community into agony. And till date, no kid is allowed unguarded access to the water.
Local authorities learnt the hard way!
It is good that Lagos State Police Command summoned Davido’s domestic staff for preliminary questioning. But by and large, the buck stops at Davido and Chioma’s desk. They’re the primary custodians and shepherds of the poor child. Care and love for our children should go beyond showmanship on social media handles. There is a disheartening gap in parentage and shepherding among young parents of this generation. It beggars the question as to what had gone wrong.
Granted, celebrity lifestyle is tasking, but creating a good work/life balance is essential.
Until one’s child is old enough to fend safety for him/herself, one is naturally duty-bound to keep an eagle eye on such kid. Absconding from such duty or leaving it entirely to minders is a grave error. Kids’ minders are mere employees, who may gaffe on their duties without a slight pinch of guilt. One of the social blunders of this century is the outsourcing of parental roles to nannies at homes.
Nannies can never substitute parents.
Modern man has found himself in an era full of distractions and enslaving side attractions. Several movie skits showing mothers lose their children and wards while pressing phones along highways were commonplace across social media.
Swimming pool is one of best relaxation sites in homes of the well-to-dos. It is a culture Africa copied from western civilization. However, it seemed (as usual) we copied without recourse to the operators’ manual. There is nothing wrong in copying, after all, China became super power nation, copying western technology verbatim. One of the merits of science and technology is that it is adaptive and transferable. But it is homicidal to copy wrongly.
Abroad, safety proof barricades are used to cordon off pool sites in homes where minors are left to roam on free range. As a matter of necessity, Nigerian parents who can afford the luxury of swimming pools in their homes should provide adequate guards around their pools. A stitch in time, saves nine.
Mr Jude Eze wrote from email@example.com