It was an unplanned gathering of very wealthy Nnewi men, each with a head bowed in regret as one of them was informally addressing them, making his points with known examples.
It was then that the elderly ones amongst the rich who were particularly based in Lagos realized the great disservice they had done to themselves and their families.
Ogbudaa Akaekpuchionwa 1 of Nnewi might not have accumulated enough money to justify his guts to address his wealthier kinsmen but whatever he lacked in his bank account he made up in wisdom and eloquence.
The wealthy sons of Nnewi had converged in the house of one of their kinsmen who had just died on a condolence visit, as it is the practice whenever a kinsman dies.
Upon receiving the news of a kinsman’s death, everyone would immediately head towards the deceased house to condole with the family and to ascertain funeral plans and any area they could assist.
When a wealthy man of Nnewi extraction dies, within an hour, his house would be besieged by sea of heads, both of the poor and of the rich.
Chief Akuenwebe’s death was not unexpected as he had slipped into coma six months ago after suffering a multiple heart attack. His death was seen as a relief by his close friends and family members who knew what he was passing through.
Ogbudaa Akaepuchionwa believed that his message would be better appreciated by his wealthy kinsmen while still under the sober mood caused by the death of Chief Akuenwebe.
And he cashed in on it.
“Umunaa (meaning ‘my kinsmen’) for how long shall we continue to allow the same thunder to strike us twice?” he started.
“We all know what ‘chewed the head’ of our brother. His irresponsible sons killed him. Their unwholesome acts immediately their father coopted them into his business inflicted him with very high blood pressure, then stroke, later heart attack and finally coma and death. They can now start “scouping meat with fufu in place of soup”
“I have watched with pains as very successful and wealthy men from our town unknowingly set their sons on the path of uselessness.
“Many us here, both young and aging realize too late the impact of our indiscretion when faced with the result of the formation of our heir apparent. It is an excruciating experience that must be avoided by those who can.
“I have identified how we could find out in time, when our sons have started derailing”, the speaker said hence arousing the interest of his attentive audience.
“An observant father watching his back could ascertain the tendency of a son towards prodigality when some of the following signs become manifest:
1. A son who loves enjoyment and prefers leisure to hard work.
2. A son with no emotional intelligence required to manage the parents’ large business empire.
3. A selfish son that would rather covet all his parents’ wealth in exclusion of other siblings.
4. A son that believes that the whole world owes him a duty of care.
5. A son that would not wait for the parents to die to take over.
6. A son with obvious tendencies to ground the father’s businesses soon after he assumes leadership of the group of companies.
7. A drug addict son and a party freak.
10. An indifferent son”, Chief Akaekpuchionwa enumerated.
At this point, one of his listeners known as Okwuanyionu asked, ” Nwokem how can we prevent this?” He had noticed certain tendencies in his own sons too and was determined to learn more.
“We could adopt the following preventive mechanisms as it is not too late to check the drift and have our sons be who we want them to be. The following may be useful:
1. TRAINING: Check the kind of school your son attends. The school should reflect the values you want to imbibe in him.
Many of the schools with British or American curricula process your son for export. They infuse in him foreign values many of which are diametrically opposite to what you stand for. They read foreign literature and are made to graduate thinking foreign.
The schools bleach your son’s local content leaving you with a child that is eager to migrate abroad. He feels he does not belong here.
You complement the alienation when you send the child abroad for undergraduate and Postgraduate studies without debriefing.
If you have a big business in Nigeria and you hope that one day that the child would return to run the business, good luck to you.
Many successful business people I know who trained their sons through over westernized schools at home and abroad, and got them to join their businesses after graduation, have painful stories to tell.
The returning dudes came back, ran down their fathers’ businesses and relocated abroad. Some parents are however, lucky.
As a counter balancing measure, parents would have to moderate the influence of over westernized curricula by discussing and agreeing with their sons the objective of going to a preferred school and devoting time to review achievements of milestones.
2. PATERNAL ENGAGEMENT: The man of the house should make out time to interact with the son. A smart father takes his successor son to office when his school is on holiday, gives him some assignments and discusses some strategic matters with him right from age 10.
The son is encouraged to work and be paid by the company during vacation.
The son grows to imbibe his father’s work culture and subconsciously starts situating self in the business and develop ideas on how to make things better in the company.
3. A MAN MUST MONITOR MOTHER’S DESTRUCTIVE LOVE FOR SON
Some mothers go to an absurd extent to prove to their sons that they are loved and are precious. They provide all wants and shield them from life moderating stress. They even quarrel with their husbands for being harsh on the growing son.
The father should assume the responsibility of training the son. Not all he requests should be granted. He should learn to manage disappointment even from a beloved father because he will see more disappointments later in life hence he needs to be immunized early.
The man should always explain to his son the reasons behind his actions especially why he said “no” to his requests. Wise fathers give this explanation days after the incident in order not to diminish the lessons learnt.
4. TEACH THE CHILD ACCOUNTABILITY: The son must be made to account for whatever amount given to him as pocket money or shopping money. He should be taught to ask and receive permission to over spend an agreed limit.
Every parent should investigate any case of theft at home and punish the offender squarely and openly. Your son may be the pilferer of your cash not your servants. If you don’t detect it and nip it in the bud, he will grow to think that other people can actually serve a prison sentence on his behalf.
5. A FAMILY VACATION IS VERY REVEALING
Many busy working class parents realize how ignorant they are of their growing sons’ tendencies during an annual family vacation.
You many get a hint of what you need to correct by being very observant and during play activities” he managed to list.
“Let any successful man or owner of a big business amongst us immediately carry out an audit of how his son or the successor is being raised and make corrections before it is too late.
“For nearly two decades now, I have been keeping notes of this malady befalling our wealthy men and I know how we cringe when we remember that we have not recreated ourselves in our children.
Most of the wealthy men in attendance left with hearts laden with grief; not because of the death of their kinsman but the situations they have found themselves in.
Theirs are accidents waiting to happen.”
By Anayo M. Nwosu