Awufani ngani nosbanibani: Comparison might not be the way to teach

While minding my own business at home, I overhear my mother whose teaching my nephew how to read, he is having a hard time. Then I hear mom use the words “when I (her) was young I (she) was a very quick learner, what’s wrong with you?” in IsiZulu of course.

It’s not really much but it’s quite heavy words to use. Unfortunately a lot of black parents use such words to their kids, comparing them to other kids. In this blog I want to highlight how sometimes that might not be good, yeah sometimes.

I want you as reader to pay attention, as this read might encompass a lot more beyond the ideas of comparison but further deals with how finding and excelling what we’re good at can make us happier in our life’s. Please note I am using my mobile to write these days, I make errors.

I am a fan of Sir Ken Robinson, I’d certainly run out of space if I tried to write all his accolades in this blog. Sir Ken Robinson is an author, who has offered a lot of interesting read and given interesting talks. He currently has the number one most viewed Tedtalk and it’s a lovely tedtalk to listen to. I read a lot of his work (books) and even on the idea that I am currently writing about, he reflects a worldly perspective. So in a sense you could say, I am offering a basic summary in my own perspective on some of his ideas.

When I was young my mother did that to me as well, why ngingafani nosbanibani (why am I not like that child), luckily for me, I had an understanding of what kind of person I was, I cut that idea from her the moment I could defend myself from her by telling her “we’re not the same, because we’re two different people and we do two different things”

In that time I had realized that the people I was being compared to were not me, and we were doing different things and seeing the world differently. I remember so often I was being ask why am I not playing outside like other teenagers, but I didn’t want to, my journey was in accumulating knowledge from books so I could propel myself beyond. I had my own view of the world that I wanted to pursue. I was obviously not a sport person!

Kids understand the world differently. Some kids can be geniuses at a very early age even more so the world genius cannot necessarily be scaled/measured, because a genius in what? numbers? Literature? Sports? Kids are different. Our role as guardians is to provide conditions in which these kids of ours can excel.

For black parents I understand it’s not that easy. A black parent will get so furious if her niece/nephew/son/daughter cannot count up to 20 while the neighbours child can not only count to 20 but can even reverse count. Imagine that…

ballistic!!!! My mother would go!!! Ini inkinga yakho!!!

Our parents are trapped in a word of competition, it certainly is like that for most people without race being a factor. I’m just using my own background as prime example.

Yes, competition is healthy but it can be toxic. You know I was bullied at one point because other kids said it’s cause I’m smarter than them in a certain subject. Whaaaat???? So I shouldn’t be smart? Not necessarily, it’s because the words that are used often to them are “awufaningani no sbanibani”

So you get yelled at and beat up by your guardian because you’re not like that person, it’s only fair you make them feel your pain right?! Bullying is not cool.

Our intelligence, another word that Robinson states should be defined differently; our intelligence is not the same. That being said, we should be finding what makes our kids better rather than what are they not good at. Your child could be great at music, but you’re busy forcing him or her to learn numbers. You need to watch your kids, look at what triggers their creativity and what peaks their minds more, then you will understand them.

As an adult the idea is more the same but let me use a different idea. If you’re not a sport person relax I will make another example but take the CR7 vs Messi debate. Both exceptional players, both with multiple accolades. People compare these two as often as they possibly can, I too am guilty of such. However, I have come to understand that each is better at their own game than the latter. Each choose not to listen to the comparison per se but acknowledged it. What do I mean? I mean if Ronaldo spent his career trying to be Messi he would have never gotten were he is. So he decided to rather excel what he can be good at. And so one of the greatest rivalry of football began.

It’s the same with me. When I arrived in varsity, I can say without a doubt there were individuals in my field, theatre and dance who were better than me, in a sense they are still probably better than me. In light of that, I am still able to achieve the success I want in the same field.
How is that? I came to a point were I realized that if I am comparing myself to what they can do, I will never be happy and probably will never get to do it. They had years of training, I had not. So I needed to find my own way, thus in the same field I worked on what I can be great at, what can I spend my time developing to make me better.

While Messi choose to dominate the ground, Ronaldo has an advantage in the air (not to say either is defined by the other). In Tennis Federer/Nadal when one ruled the clay, one ruled the grass; until later things changed.
Because things do change, don’t there.

Our rivals make us better, but our rivals must not define who we are or who we want to be. Their function is to keep us on our toes, that if we stop they will be ahead and we’ll probably feel like shit. Even that is a problem, you shouldn’t feel like shit. You need to choose your own battle. What is it that will make you feel worthwhile with yourself!

The only way you can be better than usbanibani is if you are better at your own shit. Invest time in your shit. When something you’re doing doesn’t feel like your shit, it probably isn’t. What you spend time on more, consistent on is your shit.

I think our parents need to learn that; perhaps it’s our responsibility as the young generation to make them see, that we are capable, kids are capable; it’s just our working pace and abilities are different.

Yeah I know telling a black parent that in itself will be a journey but that journey might be worthwhile for a child whose currently suffering an ass whooping cause the neighbour can count to 20 while s/he can only get to 8.

Tell me your view? I’d love to hear your thoughts?

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