• Fri. May 24th, 2024

CULTURAL CONTACT AND EDUCATION OF THE IKA CHILD

Mar 27, 2020

An Ika child of the olden days had his circle of cultural contact limited to the primary groups only. Apart from the work group (a secondary group), which some of them might join as they grew up, the ancient Ika child did not go to school, college, church, club, neither was he exposed to outside cultural influence as there were no cinema, radio, television, press, theatre art, etc. As a result, therefore, the technique, which was adopted in bringing up children, then reflected almost only the family’s values, beliefs and background.

Ika has been, from time, an agrarian nation, and except on native Sunday, Eken, the Ika man and his household spent all their days in the farm.

SEE ALSO: CURBING SPORTS BET MENACE ON NIGERIAN YOUTHS

Ika is synonymous with farming. To an Ika adult, in the olden days, farming was the most important thing in his life. When farming in one year, the farms for future years were speculated. The spirits of his ancestors presided over his farm activities and chastised him if he failed to use the land bequeathed to him wisely and well. The whole of his life, his most intimate relation to people, his conception of places, his evaluation for his guarding spirits, all fell and revolved around the topic farm, ugbo. For example, when he spoke of his wife, he mentioned the size of his farm. His son who always cried to go to the farm, nwa-akwanogo, was the best of his children. When he quarreled with neighbours, he boasted of the number if lines of yams in his barn. When he spoke of his dead father, he mentioned how famous a farmer he was, etc. He has no other words for friends; naturally, friendship too, fell under the space of farm. For instance, friends are people with whom people farmed. In his conversation, he must mention farm; if he had any cause to travel, he continued to identify bushes that would be suitable for the different types of yams and crops. All about him revolve around farm and farming.

All day, the bustle to and fro in the village, was directed to the farm. Early in the morning the village was alive with preparations, which the elders made for the farm, while the children from the age of three or four, all trod along the farm lanes with glee. The father could be in a hurry as he might have a lot of other activities such as tapping palmwine, setting or looking after traps, etc. to accomplish in the farm. But that his small child would feel important and adequate to deal with, the father encouraged him to follow. And he did follow, even where that might mean extra trouble and delay, and possibly a smaller work in the farm. An Ika child who could not love to go to farm at the age of five would be as aberrant as definitely sub-normal. The demand upon him had made him keen-eyed, quick-witted, and physically competent like his father, who had mastered the techniques necessary for perfect comfort farming. There was a general high level of excellence; and clumsiness or physical uncertainty was unknown among the majority of the adults. The father thus would make sure from the scratch that his child was accustomed to farming from the early years of his life. In the farm hut, the child was sat on the slatted or bare ground where he watched the sunshine gleam, or the rainfall. When he was about a year old, his mother or female relations would watch him sit in the farm, or while at home, in the little veranda. By this way, his eyes grew used to the farm, and the sight of the village set in between a trick forest.

As the child grew further, he learnt to grasp things firmly and to be alert, surehanded and surefooted. He began to accompany his mother about the village or farm. He could ride quickly on her back, or could sit on the sand at home or hut in the farm playing. The parents expected a speedy physical adjustment from the child, but he was never expose to unnecessary risks. He was never-allowed to stay beyond the limit of safety and watchful adult care. He could confront falls, ducking or simple entanglements during his play, but he was never allowed to meet with the type of accident, which would make him distrust the fundamental safety of his environment. In the physical care of the Ika child, the mother never made any clumsy blunders. For instance, a child was never dropped, he was never allowed to slip from anybody’s arms, or bumped his head against doorpost or shelves carelessly. So thoroughly did the child trust his parents that he could leap from any height into an adult’s outstretched arms, leaping blindly, and with confidence of being safely caught.

As the parents watched the child grow, he was expected to make as much effort as possible to acquire, physical dexterity. Parents guided against cases of children who toddled a few steps, fell and bruised their noses and refused to take another steps for some months. The child was made to be self-sufficient as early as possible in life. The mother and the elders kept a sharp lookout that the child did not stray into a difficulty. If indeed he got into a difficulty, or made a mistake, he was not nagged and plagued with continual doubt, which might frighten him permanently or inhibit his activity.

In other aspects of adopting the child to the external world in Ika culture, every gain or every ambitious attempt was applauded. Small errors were simply ignored, but serious ones were frowned at. For instance, a child who after having learnt to walk, slipped and bumped his head, was not gathered with kindness. Instead the little stumbler’ was berated for his clumsiness; if he had been very stupid, flogged soundly into the bargain. Or, if his misstep had occurred in the farm, or at home, the exasperated and disgusted adult might simply dump him contemptuously on the ground to meditate upon his ineptness. The next time the child slipped, he would not glance anxiously for an audience for his agony, as so many of the children do. He would nervously hope that no one had noticed his ‘faux pas’ (indiscreet action or remark that offends against social convention). This attitude served as an unsympathetic as it appeared on the surface, but it made children to develop perfect motor co-ordination.

As it has been in all ages, children walk means more problems for the adults. Once able to walk, children are constant menace to property; that is, breaking of dishes and cups, spilling the soup, tearing books, etc. But in ancient Ika where property was scarce and one wailed for loss of property as for the dead, respect for property was thought children from their earliest years. Like as it is today, possessions and materials of all kind, pots of soup, plates, dishes, glasses, smoking meat, or fish from the hanging shelves, etc. are made safe from the two or three year olds by putting them out of their reach. From their early age, children are rebuked and chastised for damaging or touching ‘anything’ which do not belong to them. This important item of ethnic behavior demand of children is carried on as they grow into adulthood and beyond in Ika culture.

In the olden days, occasionally all night, the traditional village would range with gong or drum calls and angry speeches on instances of such ugly behaviours. They would be discussed, deprecated and apologies rendered by the parents whose children had caused some damages. Such careless children were denounced publicly and instances given on how mercilessly the shameful young criminals were beaten. In checking theft, the same inexorableness was found. A child could, for instance, be termed to be a thief if he had been seen to pick up objects found on the road, materials which obviously must have fallen out from the occupants of one of the houses nearby. To appropriate such objects without first making a round of possible owner’s was to steals. The Ika of the olden days would have exercised the greatest circumspection for months if the person involved was not to be blamed for every disappearance of property in the years to come.

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