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It takes a whole village to raise a child: This Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) proverb exists in different forms in many African languages. The basic meaning is that child upbringing is a communal effort. The responsibility for raising a child is shared with the larger family (sometimes called the extended family). Everyone in the family participates especially the older children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and even cousins. It is not unusual for African children to stay for long periods with their grandparents or aunts or uncles. Even the wider community gets involved such as neighbors and friends. Children are considered a blessing from God for the whole community. This communal responsibility in raising children is also seen in the Sukuma (Tanzania) proverb "One knee does not bring up a child" and in the Swahili (East and Central Africa) proverb "One hand does not nurse a child."

In general this Nigerian proverb conveys the African worldview that emphasizes the values of family relationships, parental care, self-sacrificing concern for others, sharing, and even hospitality. This is very close to the Biblical worldview as seen in scripture texts related to unity and cooperation (Ecclesiastes 4:9,12) and a mother's self-sacrificing love (Isaiah 49:15-16).

The multiple uses of this Nigerian proverb show the timeliness and relevancy of African proverbs in today's world. In 1996 Hillary Clinton, the wife of the President of the United States, published a book on children and family values entitled "It Takes a Village" based on this proverb. That same year Maryknoll Father Don Sybertz and I published the first edition of our book "Towards An African Narrative Theology" (now available from Paulines Publications Africa, Nairobi, Kenya and Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, USA). In Chapter Three on "Community'' we used this Nigerian proverb and many other African proverbs and sayings on the values of community, unity, cooperation and sharing. In Dallas, Texas there was a controversy over four security guards that whipped some kids who broke into a mall. The parents of the kids said that the guards had no right to discipline their kids, but the guards said that they did what they did because "the village raises the children."

The Anglican Archbishop John Sentamu of York, England at a consultation in Swanwick, England in September, 2005 stated: "As It takes a whole village to raise a child so it takes the whole global village to eradicate poverty . It starts with each of us personally. [For example] do we buy Fairtrade goods?"

Recently, one of our Associate Ministers mention in his sermon that 70% of African American Youths are born into single parent families, of the remaining 30% the divorce rate is 80%! of those remaining almost all (less than 1%) are born into dual income families! Who's raising these kids? Barney?

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The following comments are for "Men Of My Tribe"
by kmrdgrs326

Wonderful blog
Thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed it!


( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: November 16, 2010 )

OchaniLele, thanks. I've been spurred into action by recent events. This piece of work "Men Of My Tribe" is more along in alignment with my calling.

( Posted by: kmrdgrs326 [Member] On: November 16, 2010 )

You're quite welcome. I see a lot of room for expansion on this. Will you be working on it more, or is the piece finished as it is?

( Posted by: OchaniLele [Member] On: November 16, 2010 )

Men Of My Tribe
"Men Of My Tribe" is my first attempt at contemporary fiction. It's an ongoing piece that's more inline with my calling.

( Posted by: kmrdgrs326 [Member] On: November 16, 2010 )

In that case I look forward to reading more of your work. I'll try to keep up with it as it runs across my virtual desk!

( Posted by: ochanilele [Member] On: November 16, 2010 )

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