Every elder ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle’, and that’s that.
I’m convinced that everyone raised in a West African household has lived the exact same lives. No matter where you grew up or what year you were born in, if you have West African parents, there’s a very real possibility that they do each of these 17 things from time to time.
Having the highest expectations.
The only thing higher than West African parents’ expectations is the Burj Khalifa itself. If you score 99% on a test, you can guarantee they’ll mourn the loss of that 1%. If you graduate with a Bachelor’s degree, they’ll ask you when you’re starting your Masters… and then your PhD.
Threatening to send you back to Africa if your grades aren’t up to scratch.
If your grades were below average in school, some parents would simply lower their expectations. West African parents, on the other hand, would threaten to send you back to the Motherland (and they weren’t bluffing either). That one-way ticket would hang over your head until your grades drastically improved. And if they didn’t, bon voyage…
Expecting you to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer.
Being able to brag about our achievements is what our parents live for, and in their eyes, there is no greater achievement than becoming a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. It’s the West African trifecta, if you will. So a moment of silence for those of us that decided to throw caution to the wind and pursue other ventures – Lord knows that wasn’t an easy conversation.
Comparing you to your overly-successful cousins.
No matter how well you’re doing in life, there’s always a long lost cousin who’s somehow doing better. For those moments when your parents just feel compelled to humble you, you can guarantee there is a cousin somewhere in the world that is a neurosurgeon or an aerospace engineer that they can compare your successes to.
Forcing you to talk to relatives that you have no recollection of ever meeting.
“Auntie so and so is on the phone come and say hello…” Nothing in this world is more painful than having to hold a full conversation with a family member you met once when you were three years old. It’s the having to fake interest for several minutes for me.
Making sure you refer to your elders as ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle.’
Marvel / Disney
It’s basically a crime against humanity to call an elder by their first name – you only need to make that mistake once. Any family friend that’s older than you automatically becomes your auntie or uncle for life and West African parents make sure of that.
Telling you to avoid relationships and focus on your studies/career…
In West African homes, relationships aren’t on the cards until your higher education is complete and your career is thriving. No boyfriend/girlfriend, or unexpected pregnancy is going to come in the way of their child securing the bag.
…Then constantly asking why you don’t have a partner in your mid-20s.
It’s funny because our teens consisted of lectures about celibacy, facing our books, and avoiding physical contact at all costs. If I had a pound for every time they said “Where is your husband?” or “Where are my grandkids?”, I’d definitely be where the money resides right about now. And that’s on Mary had a little lamb.
Being brutally honest at all times.
You can count on West African parents for their unfiltered opinions (whether you asked for them or not). Gained weight? They’ll be sure to point it out. Single in your late 20s? They’ll remind you that your body clock is ticking. Sugar coating really isn’t their forte.
Reminding you that they are not one of your little friends.
…or your age mates. Not that we could ever forget.
Never admitting they are wrong.
The likelihood of this happening is slim to none. Hell will sooner freeze over before West African parents actually admit they are wrong. And on the rare occasion that they do concede, they’ll still most likely believe they’re right deep down.
Putting on their best outfit to go to a casual event.
Every outing is an opportunity for West African parents to stunt, and we love them for it. Whether it’s a family gathering, church, or a trip to the local Tesco, you can guarantee they will be dressed to impress. They will not be caught lacking any time soon.
Calling you from afar to pass them the remote control.
West African parents will really summon you from another room just to pass them the remote control (which is never more than two metres away, mind you).
Weaving religious quotes into casual conversation.
It’s all fun and games until your parents start quoting the Bible out of nowhere. You could literally be discussing your favourite TV show or the daily weather forecast and somehow end up being lectured on the Old Testament. To many West African parents, there is truly nothing that prayer or holy scripture can’t fix.
Cooking enough to feed an entire village.
When it comes to food, West Africans don’t do half measures. Meal times are pretty much a free-for-all and everyone is invited. Regardless of the number of people dining, there will always be enough food prepared to cater an entire event and enough leftovers to last a lifetime.
Refusing to order a takeaway.
Nothing hurts more than setting your heart on a takeaway, salivating over the menu, plucking up the courage to ask your parents if you can order in and being hit with “We have rice at home” or “Do you have McDonald’s money?”. The truel walk of shame is having to stroll into the kitchen and reheat rice and stew when you’re really craving a Big Mac.
Loving you no matter what,
The love of a West African parent is truly like no other. While they may have a unique way of showing it sometimes, you know their heart is always in the right place.