The author, Jane Cowen-Fletcher, served in the Peace Corps in Benin where she heard the proverb that represents core values found among most West African villages, communities, and families. Children are a blessing for the entire community, since they will grow to contribute in many ways, helping their family and their community. Raising children is a communal effort, and the responsibility is shared with the extended family. Older kids look after younger kids, and extended stays with grandparents, aunts and uncles is fairly common. As a child, your family, neighbors and community look after you; as an adult you share in this responsibility, as well as contributing to the good of the community and the elders in your family.
|Photo Credit: Terrie Schweitzer|
- In Tanzania: "One knee does not does not bring up a child."
- The Swahili of East & Central Africa: "One hand does not nurse a child."
- Uganda:"A child does not grow up only in a single home."
|Open air market in Mali|
Photo Credit: Alexandre Baron
|Caged chickens at open air market in Benin|
Photo credit: Vredeseilanden
|Open air market in city of Lome, Togo|
Photo source: IFDC Photography
How is the role of community different from yours? Are children watched over by friends, family and community members? Do you have a local market where you can get to know the vendors, and build a connection with your community?
You can find all of our posts with children's books about West Africa here.