A few things about me

I have been thinking about this for some time and wanting to get “african perspectives” on the whole issue.. ….. all “world views” are welcome because I do not think the issue is limited only to Africans.

A few weeks ago, while in language class we got to discussing how love and affection are expressed in the home. I was the only african in class that day. (there are two of us, me and a lady from Cote D’ivore). So there I was busy chatting away saying that in my family the expression “I love you” in whatever form was never said and as far as i knew it is generally not said in African households or families. I continued to say that seeing your parents express affection to one another was such a rear thing that if it did happen, one would probably be embarassed.

One of my classmates from Portugal then said “what a cold culture”…. and I was like ” No no.. not at all”. Even though love and affection is “never” publicly displayed, people always know they are love and cared for (assumption being that one is from a loving home). I was then asked to tell how one knows they are loved and cared for and I was kind of stumped for words.

Growing up in my home there were no hugs and kissy kissy, mommy loves you, daddy loves you stuff. Yet I never doubted that I was loved and cared for (all other issues aside). I think the fact that we had food on the table, went to school, plently of laughter, extend family socialisation, mum and dad occassionally buying you gifts. Asking for stuff and getting it (not always), and my parents “being there”… you never questioned it. I do not recall ever once having the NEED to hear my folks and sister say “i love you”.

First time I heard “I love you” said to me was from Big Al and I remember thinking “ugh, yuck, mushy mushy stuff” But now with time it has grown on me and I can say it to him… (admittedly not as often as he would like hehehehe)

I know I have no problem cuddling little babies and kids but once they get to like 7 or 8 I think we as Africans tend to start being stingy with our hugs, cuddles and affectionate words. Why is that?

So I am wondering.. if you grew up in a typical african home, devoid of public displays/verbal articulation of affection and love, how did you know you were loved?

PS: literally counting down the days to the arrival of baby Mrembo 5 days to go!

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Comments on: "Expressions of Love & Affection" (10)

  1. NOt sure how that worked but there was “a general feeling that you are loved” however vague that sounds, it is how i still feel about my parents and siblings. Though hugs and kisses are still shared between us, more so now that we are grown up, and meet occasionally as compared to when we lived in the same house. Anyone out there share a deeper understanding of this?

  2. Ooh Congratulations. I hope you deliver a healthy baby

  3. Congratulations on the baby!!!
    My two cents on the “how you knew you were loved” is
    1. as you said you “had food on the table, went to school, plently of laughter, extend family socialisation, mum and dad occassionally buying you gifts”
    2. Our parents had explicit plans for our ‘future’ – schooling and all (half the reason gifts were limited is to save for school fees). There is something about seeing parents forego things they would love to have for your future!
    3. If a much older kid beat you up in the estate, your parents saw red and literally marched to that house to complain and raise hell
    4. They made sure you had a new dress for “communions” – i remember being 9 and someone showing up for catholic church communion in a coloured dress and it was bad for her being the odd one out. Basically they made sure ‘normal expectations’ were met and you were not left explaining and making excuses to your friends

    hope some points made sense because we knew we were loved no one had to say it daily, the actions were love.

  4. I so agree. I never grew up in a house where we said to each other “I love you” and we did not hug and all that but deep down, I knew I was loved. My parents did what was best for me. Not what I wanted. My parents were my PARENTS first and my friend later.Im sorry to say this but for many esp in America, parents want to be friends first and parents later hence the “I love you” and the constant need for physical attention to prove love. Wacha ikae!

    Congratulations on your baby!

  5. I am probably in the minority here, but I grew up in a household where there was affection and where we told each other we loved each other, and we still do. Every time I speak to my family members, the conversation ends with “Love you.”

    Congrats to the new addition to your life!!!

  6. I realise that when you grow up in a home where the love is self evident, then move here where the love is verbally affirmed, you are apt to seem cold. Sweetie and I have never exchanged the I love you’s until very recently( after 5 years+ together), and all the while I have never doubted our love. We are what our parents made us, after all, and able to give and receive affection regardless of verbs.

  7. I reckon it’s all about culture. Believe you me, whenever my old man whipped my backside he would say, “SM, you know am only doing this because I care about how you turn out.” I never doubted it given the energy and dedication that was invested in the process.

    Congratulations on your impending motherhood!

  8. Even now I think if I told my mother “I love you” she would probably have a fit or something. We firmly believe that love is best expressed in deeds.

    I remember my mom staying up with me as I made chapatis and stuff that I would carry to boarding school at the beginning of the school term. She would nod off every few minutes but stubbornly refused to go to sleep keeping me company. to me that is love.

    I agree with ciiku on the priorities our parents had. This business of being too buddy buddy with children is strange!

    All the best with the impending guest!

  9. mwariwadavid said:

    all the best mrembo with your coming bundle of joy! Growing up, we never expressed love verbally, but like most others have said, i never doubted that I was loved. My dad wrote us letters and even though i do not vividly recall, I believe he must have expressed his love at one point. But as a mother now, those words are uttered numerous times in a day, not to mention hugs and kisses. For me, it is the look in my children’s eyes that says it all!

  10. Congrats on the bundle of joy! As for those 3 words we only heard them when my mum grew older and mellowed out othewise even when my dad was around it was their actions that did the talking. Which I am very proud about because here it is all talk but it doesnt always mean the relationship is better than what we had in Africa.

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