I was at shoprite with my friend, we went there to go buys some booze, we were going about our business when my attention was drawn to this kid, a boy between 9 and 11 years old creating a scene because his mother didn’t get him a toy he wanted I’m not too sure what it was, but the boy was screaming and beating his mother with the toy. I was so annoyed I just wanted to pass by and quietly and give him a sound “konk” on his head. It also made me thinking about how my mother would have reacted if I DARED to do that.
I have a question for parents, why don’t most of you flog your kids anymore? Didn’t your parents flog you? I know they say there are more ”effective” ways today to punish children. Have you tried the good ole formula of spanking that child when those other approaches seem not to be working?
When we were coming up our parents whooped us just for having a bad day. My mother, she whooped us at the slightest provocation and or sometimes at no provocation at all, have you ever gotten flogged so badly whilst oblivious of what you had done? Even when the neighbours who were worried she might kill you come to your rescue and ask her what you did and she just fumes, takes a couple of deep breaths and attempts to whoop you some more and angrily storms just so she can avoid answering the inevitable “Wetin him do wey you dey beat am?” When we were growing up, my mother weaponized everything, head ties, ladles , ‘’garri turner’’, knives, TV remotes,the straps of her hand bags and her favourite weapon were her shoes. My mother had special ass whooping skills. She would hold you in a vice-like grip in one hand usually the left and proceed to wreak havoc on that ass and whatever body part she dims fit or that gets in the way of the whooping. She was the Whoopi Goldberg of ass whooping.
The real problem then was not the ass whooping, it was breaking free from her grip, did I mention it was vice-like? Because the longer it took to break free from the grip, the longer duration of your flogging. Even when you broke free from the jaws of death, my mum was so good at it that as you made your escape ,she would deliver a rapid succession of whooping mid-stride and as you are thinking it’s all over and you are hit in the head with the weapon, she had the throwing precision of a marksman, you escaped and perched somewhere to cry, nurse your wounds and examine the damage done to your body.
My father, he never really did flog us a lot, he did a lot of talking and advising, and counselling and some more advising, and a little more counselling. You would just sit there and wish he’d flog you and get it over with, ‘’daddy flog me quick make I go sleep, you done advice me 3 hours now and you dey repeat the same thing over and over again.’’ I know what you are thinking, such a nice father… Pause, I said he didn’t flog us much, not that he never flogged us, my father flogged us so bad my mother interceded on our behalf, just imagine that? My father never used his hands, his weapon of choice were his hangers, those plastic green hangers, I still have a healthy fear for them. But before then, his weapon was his belt, my people when I say belt I no mean all these synthetic leather belt wey we dey wear wey no dey hold trouser for waist, no be all these ones wey dey make our trousers sag reach knee, I mean correct pomo, belt we be like rhino skin dem take make am. Belt wey dey make skin disappear from body, belt wey dey rewire the whole cerebral cortex, belt wey you go buy one wear am until you die, belt wey dey last forever.
The era of the belts didn’t last long and boy was I glad? I guess he got tired of flogging himself while he flogged me because each time he thrust the belt backwards to deliver maximum damage he whipped his back, I’ve seen him wince in pain a few times. The era of the plastic hangers lasted a while but it eventually passed too, they broke after each ass whooping session, he had a wardrobe full of broken plastic hangers, I’ll be honest to say I broke some myself. Then came the era of the ‘’wire’’ hangers. You know those ones that had the little thin coating and came in various colours, the coating was quit to peel off and expose the rusty metal base? The ones that left the indelible rust marks on you white shirts? I’m sure you remember. Mehn…God no go forgive the makers of that hanger, unlike the plastic hangers, these babies don’t break, they just bent a little, and they are even quicker to straighten. My father must have felt like he discovered electricity with that hanger because it was even cheaper and more effective than the plastic.
An African proverb says ;
‘’It takes a village to raise a child.’’
Back then children had ‘’cane marks’’ on their bodies which was evidence that they had been disciplined for their shortcomings. Immediate and extended family members, neighbours and teachers would flog you if you were out of line, you even begged them not to report to your parents to avoid further ass whooping, but today the case is different, teachers are harassed and embarrassed for taking disciplinary measures. Mothers put one leg inside trousers with neighbours for daring to touch their precious children. The world is changing, we know this, you don’t have to go overboard with the whooping, I know, there are other effective ways to discipline a child, you can try them if you want and if they don’t work, try a little flogging. It doesn’t mean you are a monster or you love your children any less.
With all that flogging, you’d think we were straightened, we were straightened a bit, not entirely, we still didn’t turn out to be saints, we got into trouble, we fought, we got expelled from school amongst other things. Let’s not be so westernized that our children become unruly, disrespectful and brazenly disobey us and others knowing they can get away with it with not even a slap on the wrist. It is not the African way.
I’m grown now, and I’m grateful for every flogging I received, the point is the fear of getting flogged or after I had been flogged for doing something, always was my moral compass of sorts. I always remembered the pain and suffering and I steered clear and totally avoided doing anything that would attract punishment. I began to see why I was punished as I grew older and I appreciated my parents even more.
-Photo credit : Conversation Zimbabwe.