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GROWING UP IN A CREOLE HOME IN SIERRA LEONE By Esme James

I grew up in a typical Krio home in the fifties and sixties. Our family consisted of my parents and seven siblings (three brothers and four sisters).


Discipline in the typical Creole home was taken very seriously in those days. There was always a rattan (cane/ratlan) lurking somewhere, within easy reach of either parent, Along with such dire warnings as “da fᴐl we nᴐ yɛri shh, i go yɛri ston”, 1 we were flogged, scolded or made to lose some treat or other whenever we stepped out of line. At other times, punishment for some grave error was withheld for a later date. As my mother used to say, “wɛn pikin trowe pamayn, nᴐ bit am o; na fᴐ wet sote i trowe wata” 2 However, punishment in the home was always meted out without brutality and with the knowledge that it was all done to ensure that we turned out to be good adults of our society.


The need for integrity was honed in from a very early age. “Big yay” ɛn “awangᴐt” were practically flogged out of us. Riches and wealth were considered secondary and certainly not as important as a heart that was content and satisfied with what it had. "Contentment is great gain'" were words we heard often from our parents. If we wanted to achieve anything worthwhile in life, we were to “put una yay dᴐŋ ɛn lan buk.”


I believe this is why the Krio were and, to a large extent, still are a reticent people. Even the very rich ones try to present a façade of modest living, preferring to avoid any kind of ostentatious show of wealth. “If yu yams wayt, na fᴐ kᴐba am" is one of their maxims. We were taught to have a healthy respect for money and to use it and, indeed, everything else we had wisely.


Our parents (and this went for almost all Krio parents) to our own thinking had some rather strange ways of instilling some guiding principles into us. For instance, accepting gifts from certain people, no matter how innocent the gesture might seem, was considered unacceptable. We were expected to take home and show to our parents everything we were given. They were the ones who decided whether we should accept them or not. One could get into serious trouble if it was discovered that one had received a gift of money, for instance, even from a close relative, and failed to take it home or even to mention it. We were not allowed to take home and keep anything that had been given to us by some friend at school. We were carefully questioned about a strange pen, pencil or eraser discovered among our things and made to take the item back the next day, after a good scolding or spanking.


To be continued........


Please send in your comments and thoughts about this Krio way of discipline

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