Two young illiterate women living in the same tenement compound were having a brawl over age. An old man who also lives in same compound intervened and asked what the cause of their brawl was? The first woman answered and said, “She always wants me to greet her first.”
The second woman responded saying the first woman disrespects her a lot. Apparently, neither of them has a birth certificate nor did they know their real age. When the old man asked the first woman what makes her think she was older than the second woman, she responded that she was taller and fatter than her. So she thinks she was older. When second woman was asked the same question, she answered that even though she was shorter and slimmer, she has 11 children while the other woman has only 9 children. Hence, she was older.
Having as many children as possible was a thing of pride in the days of old. Men who have many children were said to be blessed and they command lots of respect in their community. Feeding their children wasn’t a problem since they are usually owners of big farms which they would need all their family members to work on. As a matter of fact, the number of hands they can get to work on the farm would determine the harvest at the end of the farming year. The men were comfortable in their mud houses and seeing their children in tattered cloths was not something to worry about. The quality of life they had to offer the children was not the concern of many.
While it was fashionable to have as many children as possible in the past, continuing with the trend would only breed poverty in our current world. In fact, it is the number one cause of poverty in our society. One may not be wrong to say that poverty in many parts of our society is self-inflicted. I often hear some ignorant Africans say that children come to the world with what will be used to take care of them. If this were to be true, then those who have more children should be the most blessed in our society. This however has not been so. Therefore, it is responsibility of all to enlighten the ignorant ones amongst us like those two young women who were brawling over age that, it is not about quantity but quality.
The ignorant ones in our society are not the only ones who emphasize on quantity; even our highly educated political leaders emphasize quantity over quality through their various policies. They prefer to build new schools for political gain even when the existing ones are underfunded and lack basic facilities befitting good schools. Some of our tertiary institutions are said not to be more than glorified secondary schools. In some states, there are more than 3 tertiary institutions of the same equivalents, and the facilities in these schools when combined together still do not match some lowly rated school outside the shores of our land. Similarly, many of our political leaders easily brag about building hospitals in areas that previously do not have, but usually fail to add that those hospitals neither have qualified doctors to man them nor the facilities to save lives. They waste tax payers money to build prestigious projects like airports when they know that it’s neither viable nor will it attract airline traffic.
It is high time we began to emphasize on quality and not quantity. For me, the number of children a person decides to have is irrelevant as long as he can guarantee them basic needs of life including education. However, I think it is better to have one Dangote or Adenuga than have too many who might turn out to be problem for the society because their parents failed in their responsibilities. So also, I don’t care if there are only few schools in the country as long as they have the basic facilities to make them compete with those in developed societies, neither do I care if there are no hospitals in all the villages in the country as long as the ones available have the necessary facilities and qualified professionals to save lives.
Shola Olayiwola is a freelance writer. He loves to write and defend the course of his country.