Dear Nii Kpakpo,
This letter has been inspired by my good friend Dr Sapro Jnr who passed through the savannah on a work visit. Truth be told I’ve seen young crazy intellectuals but this global villager beats the rest. He calls himself a global villager because he’s one of the jet set planners and thinkers of the world working for the USAID.
With a wide range of experience In working all over the world, he says Africa has all the expertise to be ahead of the rest of the world but hmmm…
I think he’s the kinda intellectual I’ve always dreamed to be. Very smart and intelligent, by all standards, but on his own terms.
Whilst in the middle of our discussions and gallivanting through the town on a pub raid we made an interesting discovery that everything is the savannah is free range.
Nii Kpakpo you know I mentioned earlier somewhere that livestock was predominantly free range here. The other day whilst walking through the labyrinth I told you about the cattle and humans living together. Whilst the cattle are sent out to graze during the day, that spot they were in at night becomes a space to park the motorbikes in the household.
In our gallivanting we also realised that even children are brought up free range with very little or no supervision at times, or that is what it seems like. The children are brought up to know the daily routine by themselves and once they are conversant with this daily routine, the part that pleases the parents, the rest of the time what they do Is their own cup of tea, as we used to say.
This explains why after school the children in the community where I work gather at the waterhole under the bridge to do a little swimming. They just lie in the water and play with each other, sometimes engaging in races in the water. Nobody cares that it is dirty water.
Kpakpo the main motivation for this letter is when as at one am when we were leaving a very popular rooftop pub in the savannah there were still over a hundred young people, obviously of high school going age, still at the pub. My good friend asked me if the really had parents who were concerned about these young people.
It is the that I realized that they were or could be free range youth by virtue of the traditional set up in the savannah.
Kpakpo, unlike in the city where parents and children sleep more or less in the same room or next to each other, the family homestead in the savannah is mostly structured in such a way that the parents sometimes live apart.
Even when they live in the same house, the father has his own room, likewise the mother and the children also have their own rooms.
In such cases that the father has more than one wife, the children would probably be living with their mother at her place of residence if it is a case of a non-resident father.
It is in this situation that the children can come out of the house to whatever programs/ agendas they have in town and stay as long as they want.
Furthermore, with the availability of a large family, it is assumed that the child could be with an aunt or an uncle since in the free range system, children are sometimes raised cummunallly. So the child would not be in the household for a long time and nobody worries because who they are not home it means they are being taken care of elsewhere.
Kpakpo, this should not be news to you because we grew up with some of our friends like that even in the big city and they be called ‘kubolor’ (not the musician). Remember that sometimes we aspired to be like such people because we assumed they had all the fun. But our strict parental upbringing will just not make it possible.
We’ll, in this modern dispensation, we never know what that dispensation ever is, the free range system is probably the last vestige of our sense of community and sometimes Kpakpo I pray we keep it like that. We should make it as good as our forefathers used it but then it has to come with the high sense of morality and responsibility that accompanied it.
Nii Kpakpo I have said my piece. It’s a weekend and I’m sure your sister has plans for the both of us. You know she makes the plans for this family and I’m just an observing and willing participant.
I’m off to see her now but hey, I’ll keep you posted.
Your Cousin in law
Your sister’s birthday coming up and I’m thinking of buying her some lingerie. I hear one very joyous station, the one where your bald cousin works is distributing #VictoriASSecrets sponsored by the Ghana Communication Ministry supported by BBC Radio.
Could you make enquiries for me on how to get a gift voucher?