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Bad Boy: Why your kids should learn mother tongue


This August, you decreed in your house that henceforth, children will be spending at least three weeks in the countryside with their grandparents to learn manners and more importantly their native language.

The law stipulates that the children will not touch an electronic gadget or watch any television. Instead, they will spend time doing productive work in the farm, even if it is passing the slasher to the old man. You expect Farrah will learn useful skills like washing utensils, obedience to the elders, and how not to sulk at every little thing, because your mother will whack sense into her if she tries any of that recalcitrant behaviour.

But more importantly, you want the kids to be fluent in your mother tongue.

“For what use now?” Carol asked and her appalling ignorance made you more resolved in your commitment. “They will never probably grow up in the village, and by the time they will be old, there will be nobody who talks in mother tongue, so it is just a waste of thoughts, resources and…”   Few things can boil your blood like Carol does with her total disregard for her culture. Last time she asked your uncle to go wash hands in the sink and your uncle nearly spelled a curse, had you not done some timely intervention.   You have seen how children who grow up in Nairobi with no roots in the village turn up. They are the people who drink on Sunday and Monday nights. They are the people who use drugs, because they think that’s a recreational activity.   And there is no bigger fun, than kids who grow up knowing that they have the countryside they can run to when the going gets tough in the city. Farming is easily the best hobby. Besides, with devolution, counties offer endless opportunities, the better to raise kids who know how the village works, so as to have a chance in the future. And knowing the language can give them some advantage, where your tribe plays a role.

All these explanations will be lost on Carol, because most women are awfully short-sighted about how the world runs. “It is good to expose yourself to different environments and possibilities…” you tell Carol.

“Why can’t we try environments that can expose their minds to think bigger and have bigger ambitions…” By that, she means meaningless flying around to beaches and the grotesque malls of Dubai.

“Look, those places will always be there and if you work hard and get a job in the future, you can always fly themselves…”

“So, you want kids to go to the village to be beaten by mosquitoes and you know Farrah is allergic to…”

The worst form of blackmail women use to protect a child is when they cite health stuff. “That is the best way to build their immunity, but more importantly they must learn our language…” you tell her.

“Why can’t they go to my side, it is nearby, they can learn my mother tongue here…”

“Where I come from, kids belong to the man. Get used to the idea…”

“Where I come from, they belong to me…”

You give a hard stare, but somehow, she doesn’t freak out. And that freaks you out…    


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