The holiday season may be well and truly passed for most of us, but it got me thinking about the importance of family. This particular Christmas I was lucky enough to be in the company of three generations of my extended family from my mother’s side in her childhood home in Majiwa town, of Tharaka-Nithi County in the republic of Kenya.
There were three generations represented there from those who were born in the early to late nineteen fifties, and were coming of age in a newly independent Kenya. There were those who were born in the 1970s and 1980s, and there s were those born in the noughties.
Some of those there I had not seen in over a year, and will very likely not see again in perhaps longer so for me the opportunity to interact was extremely significant.
Of all the things I have seen in my less than three decades on this earth, my strong feeling is the family is the one resource that we in Africa can really brag that really made significant use of. No matter the community, or culture, or religion the capacity to develop, sustain and leverage family connections for economic gain, social protection and as a basic building block for the society as a whole.
Many African states have underdeveloped formal social protection schemes, and many which did have for the most part dismantled the same in the name of Structural Adjustment Programs. Until that situation changes, most of us have only the families we were born into to fall back on in times of crisis.
Also many Africans in the Diaspora have continued to sustain links with family back home as means to channel investment into things like real estate, and stock markets, as well as supplying the folks at home with a supplementary income, at the personal level and as a source of foreign exchange at the state level.
Is this state of affairs ideal? Generally speaking I feel it isn’t. That is not the purpose of this piece though. This piece is about recognizing how those connections we have with brothers, sisters, parents, spouses, cousins, uncles, aunts and the wider extended family have been a central part in the things we as Africans can truly call successes.
This piece is merely a moment to reflect on the primacy of family ties when we set tout to make our place, and our identity and our ambitions in life.