The first born son in Africa is always expected to shoulder many responsibilities. You are an Esau, your birthright is to lead the family, you are a patriarch in training. You can choose to accept it, or sell it for a pottage of beans. I must confess that I sometimes understand Esau’s perspective. Being a firstborn, is not all that it is cracked up to be.
The good African son always defers to elders. It’s all good and done. I think this might have worked before, but if the elders don’t know what they are talking about. Kuishi kwingi ni kuona mengi (To live long is to experience a lot), true but if you are like me, kutembea kwingi ni kuona mengi (to be widely travelled is to experience a lot).
By the way, the irony of deferring to sagacious old men to present this argument is not lost on me. The good African son takes care of his parents. All that hogwash about retirement homes and senior living facilities is rubbish left for Europeans and Americans. It is not like he can rely on the folks at the National Security Social Fund (NSSF).
It is also his responsibility to bury them. The good African son continues the lineage. That means as soon as he is able, he needs to ensure that he has driven a herd of small-legged beasts into a compound somewhere.
Preferably, the compound must not cross certain borders. If you are from the House of Mumbi, it should not stretch from beyond the ridges. If you are the son of Ramogi you must only sire proud Luo children with a daughter of Ramogi.
If for some reason that is not possible, a Luhya or a Kisii will do fine, because they know that a son of Ramogi cannot be separated from a plate of fish. So appropriately arrangements must be made. Marrying a foreigner is not ideal.
The good African son will learn the lessons of leadership, from his father and act appropriately. Like Chinua Achebe’s Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart he will rule his family with an iron fist.
The good African son will not bear to have his siblings become jobless, know nothings roaming the village like stray dogs, if he himself is blessed to drive a Mercedez Benz, S class series. That’s why if his last name is Mbogo, you might in be Nyayo House and wondering why you are in Embu Ndogo. Unfortunately, the good African son is a myth.
My high school teacher, Mr Koko, who despised Form One students for reasons unknown to me used to say: “The only good Form One is a dead one.” The only good African son is a dead one. The real world is filled with uncouth, incompetent, lazy, dishonourable, insolent and disobedient sons — in short, the bad African son. —The writer’s is a management fellow at the City of Wichita— @janeksunga