Hello, ruminators!

It is often said that being a parent and raising a child does not come with a handbook that instructs on basic parenting. However, with our black folks it looks like they have a clear cut parenting style that includes dramatic ways of reprimanding children, superstitions, suitable punishments and a standardised way of doing home chores.

In my household we lived by the, spare the road and spoil the child principle. Dare you mess up, you are getting it bad. Below I will explore the things that made our childhood memorable as black children in my home and parenting manuals our ‘rents used.

(Disclaimer: these are influenced by my own experiences as a black child, you are more than welcome to add your own experiences that you still remember from your childhood)

Our parents’ weapon of choice

My mother would quickly take off her flip-flops as she shouted “yeses!” and she would grab my arm and hit me all over my body. So in a sense, my siblings and I knew that when she shouts “yeses!” that’s our cue to run because we are getting it bad.

My grandmother on the other hand would make us go and take out any branch from one of the grapes’ trees we had at home, give it to her and so she could use it to hit us. Lol, basically you are an accomplice in your own beating. Naturally, we would take out the smallest branch but it didn’t help that we were still getting a beating.

Things black parents are strict about

By the time the street light fully comes on, we should all be inside the house. My parents were strict about that. Brushing our teeth and washing our faces (ukuphondla in Zulu) before having breakfast was of paramount importance in my grandmother’s house.

No one was allowed to walk on the stoep right after an adult just finished brushing it off and taking off the most expensive polish (ukufreyfa). They would normally use “cobra or sunbeam”.

Craziest punishment you have ever received?

Life with my twin sister meant a day filled with quarrels, bickering and fighting over our items and each others’ belongings. If it’s dirty and damaged, it’s hers and if it’s clean and new, it’s mine. One afternoon, my sister and I were fighting over headbands. Although our mother kept reprimanding us, the bickering escalated to a much higher level of noise much to our mother’s annoyance. She took the headbands and set them on fire. We both lost out on the headbands we were fighting over. Bummer!


1. My grandmother was such a lovely storyteller. She would tell us izinganekwane(folklores) at night before we went to bed. We enjoyed and knew all folklores off by heart so much that we would want our grandmother to tell them during the day. But because this was our granny’s way of making us fall asleep at night she obviously wouldn’t tell them to us during the day. To dodge the bullet, she would tell us that we would grow horns on our heads if she were to tell folklores to us during the day. After a few minutes of begging and buttering our grandmother up she would eventually tell us the folklores, provided that we put sticks on our hair to avoid growing horns on our heads, lol

2.The bride-broom, this is the broom that enabled women to sweep while bending over and not the usual broom that you can use to sweep while standing. We call the bride-broom “umakoti”. My grandmother would use the bride-broom to slightly hit us on our breasts as young girls when we started growing breasts. Apparently this was to ensure that our breasts represent the age we were in. Essentially, my breasts should look like a 16 year old’s breasts when I’m a 16 year old and not older than my age. Superstitious much, lol.

Feel free to tell us about your childhood as a black child, comment on the above mentioned things and add yours.