In ancient Nigeria, becoming a teenager meant you were now a big man/woman and you were already ‘ripe’ for marriage.
This meant that you would be expected to start owning your farm, know how to haggle in the market place, know how to take care of the home, your spouse and children. Everyone looked forward to becoming adults – independent and free from the shackles of their parents’ instructions.
But it is not so today, especially now that there’s education (which takes the most part of your teenage years) and youngsters dream of having white-collar jobs. The economy is also less promising than it was in the past, so today’s youths want to hit it big before starting a family. Who can blame them? Nobody likes suffering.
With the advent of technology, the world becoming one global village and many people embracing liberalism, freedom of expression and so on. Our teenagers are now going haywire!!! Before, kids used to fear their parents – real fear o (sprinkled with small love). If you are in a public place, every part of your parent’s face means something. If they raise their eyebrows or squint their eyes, immediately your brain will send a signal to your body to behave. The worst part of it is if you go visiting and the host is offering you all sorts of things. Once you look at your mum and she says “collect it” but her lips are twitching, her eyes are blinking and she’s smiling menacingly, you will just respect yourself and lie that your stomach is full.
But now, these kids will just clock 18 peren and start “Oh mum, I’m no longer a kid, I’m now a big boy” Big wetin? If you meet a typical Nigerian parent, they will remind you that as long as you’re still under their roof and eating their food, you are not big. If you’re not careful sef, this reminder will be accompanied by slaps and konks. Big for where?
Anyway, thank God for 2019.
Our teenagers are no longer the timid “my daddy says I should be a doctor” ones anymore. In today’s world, they are doing amazing things – especially with technology.
Today’s teenagers have moved from the traditional ‘go to school, be in the science or commercial department (don’t forget that the arts are for the olodos) and then become a Doctor, Engineer or Banker.’ Teenagers are better exposed and have more knowledgable dreams. It is common to hear teenagers say things like “I want to be a dancer, an artist, a writer, a tech guru, a graphics designer” and so on. That’s because with technology comes new job roles, better enlightenment, and creativity. What’s more? You get to have fun while doing your dream job. Our teenagers have noticed this and can’t wait to tap into this.
We also have the overzealous teenagers. The “I don’t want to work for anybody. I’m going to be a CEO and establish my own business” ones. When these teenagers are talking, adults will just be yinmu-ing, knowing fully well that they will soon wake up to smell the coffee.
So what are Nigerian teenagers up to?
Some are hiding at the back of the house rapping. They have J.Cole and M’I‘s albums and they are jamming to it big time. With music being one of Nigeria’s biggest and most successful exports, many of our teenagers want to become musicians. You can find them writing Simi‘s lyrics in a book or memorizing so they can later sing it in the bathroom.
Our teenagers want to become footballers, they would have loved painting, but they are not sure if artists in Nigeria are making any money. But footballers? They make badt money. The goal is not to play for Nigeria, or maybe they can just start from Nigeria and get signed by bigger clubs in the long run.
Some of our teenagers are also painting their faces and preparing to be supermodels. The Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria goes home with millions of naira while the best graduating students get a laptop at most (and that’s if it is not audio laptop). So legs – check, skin – check, brain – check and every other thing – check. Our teenagers are good to go.
On a more serious note, Nigerian teenagers are doing amazingly well. Unlike many Nigerian youths, these teenagers have, from an early age, made a decision on what they want to do and in some cases, they already know how to get what they want. Our teenagers are making video games, apps, animations, speaking up against injustice and lending their voices to the many wrongs in our society.
You cannot help but envy their boldness, zeal, and the ferocity of their dreams. They are shutting out all societal expectations and carving a path for themselves.
They are starting out early – very early and it is soothing to realize that many of them know what they are doing.
So what are you teenagers up to? We want to hear from you. Tell us, what’s it like being a Nigerian teenager in 2019? What music are you listening to? How are you coping with parents? What books are you reading? What are your dreams and aspirations? How are you studying and keeping focus amidst social media distractions? Do you wish you’d been born during a different era?