Discipline Vs. assault and the role of religious leaders

I could not help but giggled this morning when a caller to LBC radio said Pope is not really in a position to approve smacking children as a way to instil discipline given he has no biological child.

Guess I am the devil’s advocate here.

Being raised in a culture where adults or anyone in positions authority turn to physical punishment where simple communication could suffice makes my skin crawl most especially when someone in influential position such as Pope Francis thought this is an acceptable attitude from parents to children.

The Pope statement will have very little effect in the west because most parents knew better than to follow what he says given there is strict enforcement of law to protect children rights.

My worry is a nation like Nigeria whereby people believed word for word what their religious leaders told them especially when there is a passage in the bible to support the assertion.

As Nigeria goes, there is a thin line between religion and tradition, more often than not, citizens are confused about the source of many craziness that have penetrated into what we now see as our culture.

Proverbs 22: 15 “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him” King James Bible

Iwe Owe 22: 15 ” Ni aya omode ni were, sugbon pasan itoni ni yio le jina kuro lodo re” Translated from King James Bible

Among many of the bible quotations that I had to memorise as a child, the above verse was one of the few I still remember today, although I had long forgotten where the verse were but I remember the words. They did not make any sense to me as a child and neither did they as adult.

There are plenty of lost in translation when it comes to the bible and I wonder how many people have gone over the cliff because of this.

In the bible quotations above: To translate the KGB literally to Yoruba, it will be:

Foolishness – means ẹ̀gọ̀ but instead wèrè (Mental health illness) was used to describe children’s mischievousness.

Rod of correction –  pàsán ìtọ́ni. Ìtọ́ni on its own means correction however, when pàsán is used, usually it is for only one thing – to flog and beat, animals or humans, most especially when the person in charge felt short-term outcome from assault is the route to quick fix while ignoring the lasting impact of communication to bring about favoured behaviour from children.

When does discipline go too far? Here and Here

While many Nigerians would easily say physical punishment is African/Nigerian culture, it is hard to know given I grew up in a part of Nigeria where Christianity is predominant and physical assault is rife both at home and outside including in the church.

It is nations in this category that religious leaders have strong influence on the crowd. Here Pope’s statement is giving more ammunitions to already delusional crowd to justify their unfair punishment on the people, mostly children in their care.

Categories: Education, Myths I grow up with, Nigeria, Religion

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. I see your point, Folakemi. Nigerians hang on a little too much to the words of religious leaders, but I think this hook, line & sinker attitude is more common with the Pentecostal churches. They don’t want to ask questions, the person with the microphone is everything to them. I haven’t heard anybody quote the Pope in Catholic conversations, so I do wonder about his influence in Nigeria. I’m a big fan of Pope Francis, but I don’t see his comments directly increasing or decreasing anything that happens here. That said, I was never beaten by my dad, occasionally by my mom but not since I turned 11. I hope this is something we don’t carry over as a generation, we can have well behaved children without beating them. I remember being at my neighbour’s house and when beating started I’d be so terrified, looking for the door. The threats & the force of it all. If I was the one to whom that was given, I don’t think I’d be “grateful” for it today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • AB – True, as Nigeria goes most propaganda today prevails in the Pentecostal churches. This is one of the contributing factors to my curiosity with church when I was younger. I went to a Catholic church school, a few of my friends are from Baptist/Methodist/Anglican church and I from Pentecostal going background. I got to go different churches for events so always love to compare notes – yea very interesting.

      As for the weight of Pope Francis statement given his position is subjective. You immediately see people around world discussing it all and people sharing ideas so for many people especially in the developed world people take this ‘advice’ as for what it is – a (fill in the gap :)) – If we have this same mindset of questioning religious leaders and discussing their ‘advice’ I would not be bothered much but as you know, we are still work in progress in this area.

      The Pope may only be head of Catholic church, but his influence around the world goes beyond Catholic Church walls so what he says is important especially in this age where information is shared easily.


  2. My dearest FK, sometimes I wonder about your obvious dislike for the church and anything looking like it. Well, the Pope may not have biological children, but that doesn’t mean he can not advise and neither does it mean his advice will be taken by all. That said. If the Pope was to command/say that you should roast your child in the fire because he/she did wrong, would you? I don’t believe any or everyone would take some extreme action on their children just because some leader (church or not) said so.

    I believe in discipline, not because my parents disciplined me but because pointing out the correct way to your children lies on you. If you decide to kill the child that’s your business, just don’t come near mine…not talking about you o!

    I believe in the Bible and I’m a mother, I won’t go through all the pain (of child-birth and after) only to beat the child to stupor/death. There are a million ways to discipline or train a child.
    Lovely piece, but please give us some credits, we are not zoombies in Nigeria.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, my Queen! Lovely to read your constructive criticism, really appreciate it.

      No, I don’t dislike church and can’t even if I try, I was born and raised in one and everyone in my family are still devote, however I can not stand people regardless of their title using church to manipulate people.

      You’ll agree with religion influence in Nigeria today is very strong, while this is fantastic, the negative influence is just too damaging to sweep under the carpet.

      I dream of a Nigeria where we still have the same level of religious freedom but very good education to go with it so citizens can be in total control of their decisions.

      Who is going to help us with this if us prefer to smile and sing so others can think we are happy but the outsiders whose opinion we care so much about can not marry our outward religiousness with the state of the nation? It is our job, I think to air our dirty underwear so we can see out issues from different perspective, so we can all truly benefit.

      I don’t dislike church, you see? A good friend who would never stop sending the monthly HNM reminded me of the bible quotations reference. See?

      As for the credits, we don’t have to expect anyone to give that to us, abi? We know we are not zombies, we are humans but those that want to used the less informed amongst us deserved all the words thrown at them. Friends tell me those that take all advice face value were villagers, I said, yea that is more than half of the population if you think about it and since we don’t have a government to dedicate on disseminating information on important issues that directly affect citizens, maybe ordinary citizen owe it to humanity to shed lights when they can.

      But seriously Queen, I’d love to see mushroom churches reduced and in place schools and community centres. WE will still be religious but this time wiser. LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  3. FK, I didn’t know you listened to LBC all the way down there in Nigeria!!
    I listen to LBC when washing up in the evenings. So you would have heard the Nigerians ringing … defending it, “because their parents did it to them…” – that’s not a very convincing argument.

    About the corporal punishment of the children, after seeing the way my cousin has raised his children. There is no corporal punishment and his children are perfectly behaved. I had previously worked out, that if you really love someone or cared deeply about someone, you wouldn’t beat them. ( I think the word I learned in Yorbua class is “lu” – please correct me). That could make a case for not loving the ‘person/child’, as they would rather forego the beating.

    A lot of the culture in Nigeria revolves around violence, I remember one of the first Igbo words I learned was “mai o la , eh” – I asked “what does that mean?”, I was told “if I slap you”. Even traffic wardens don’t fight shy of dishing out a slap or two. Even on the plane to Nigeria, I witnessed people fighting not to mention at the airport bound for Nigeria. I think Nigerians have a problem with violence.

    As Mr Barkes said resorting to violence with your children means you have lost control, you are frustrated and impatient. In short you fall down as a parent, your only resort is to “beat” the person you profess to love. So to my mind, violence in the family is not the way to a happy household. A household may well be happier without violence but that takes more effort, which many parents would rather avoid in favour of a quick lash, slap, punch or kick.

    FK, I love the way you effortlessly glide into Yoruba, I love the language, but I was raised abroad, and only know a few words and basic phrases. I do intend to learn more in future…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually I think it was Nick Ferrari’s talk this morning at around 8am and the guy that called if memory serves right was Steve and the last name was Yoruba hence I paid attention to all that he had to say.

      Steve (not entirely sure of this first name now) has three daughters that he used to hit for just about anything. Even when the children were just being children, he’ll beat. So being in the UK where children have access to protection, his eldest daughter ran away from home on the ground of father being abusive obviously the children knew they didn’t have to live with a father who is incapable of managing his frustrations. I didn’t catch all his explanation properly but he changed his attitude because he feared he might loose his children not because they were bad but because of his own irrational behaviour. Since he has adopted communication over assault he now has very good father-children relationship with his girls and now an advocate for communities to adopt the same mindset.

      When asked why he used to beat the poor girls, he said he didn’t know any different, he was hit the same way and obviously no surprise given his background but hearing him speaking, he was born raised in the UK with Naija parents.

      jco – not sure if LBC aired in Nigeria even with the new Global News but I listen to it here, in the UK unlike you though I listen mostly in the mornings to take the mind off weather and traffic talk.

      Language is fantastic, isn’t it? Helps to clarify many issues. I bet you can still learn more Igbo if you are keen.

      As you would have noticed too, one need to step out of Nigeria to realise the full extent of the damage and to see that society can be better but something must give first. And of course the same goes with many things that are done differently which are very much cherished.


      • FK
        Thank you for the ‘wordy’ reply, I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

        I agree with you on this whole corporal punishment issue, it’s unnecessary and better ways do exist.

        I apologise, wrong show, right station. Strange how I caught a different show at the end of the day, and the example I provided was close to yours (earlier on in the day).

        I’m aware that you always relate outside events to your local situation, that is part of the reason, I visit your site. I usually wonder, how would this be viewed in Nigeria, what are people doing about this? This is where your site fits in perfectly, it answers those questions and canvases the viewpoints of it’s visitors. A lot of what you say, ‘chimes’ with me and you raise issues, others would rather ignore or “sweep under the carpet”. I take a progressive point of view on many things and see nothing wrong with questioning things and reserving the right to think for oneself, which you seem to do.

        As for languages, I will turn my attention to that later, but right now my emphasis is on improving my situation, which takes a lot of my time.

        Keep up the good work.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!! let me see now, the (ahem) “pope” stated it’s okay (even appropriate at times) to ‘spank’ one’s child when said child is misbehaving, as log as it’s not done to the offending child’s face and the world goes nuts!!! okay, i’m cool with that, but you seem to disapprove of both his words and the actions to which he spoke, now don’t get me wrong my sister, but there are times when a bit of punishment is not only due but justified, sending little johnny to the corner or his bedroom does not always serve the point the parent wants to send – biblical or otherwise – perhaps if more parents remembered the old adage”: “spare the rod, spoil the child” things would be different in the world, not that totally losing it when administering ‘parental discipline’ is a good thing, not in the least, withholding the same (parental discipline) when required is never a good thing. as for the pope not having kids so he has no say in the matter; yeah, right, whatever on that, I have no vagina/womb but feel if a woman wants to have an abortion it’s within her rights to do so, am I forbidden to say so, or should I stay silent because of my “lack of the necessarys” Perhaps if administrative discipline were doled out in Nigeria, who knows, children’s rights have a limit, somewhere around their age/educational level, when they can afford a roof over their heads and food on their tables then yeah, parental punishment has a limit, but as long as they require parental ‘security’ to survive, a disciplinary ‘whack’ on the bottom – when required – should be expected and respected

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have missed you! See, the V word makes a huge difference and glad you admitted to not having one – the analogy, fits in perfectly.

      The bible quotations I wrote were from proverbs so really should not be taking literally but when it comes to religion in Nigeria everything is taking at face value hence the state we found ourselves today when it comes to how religion (any of them) has impacted behaviour.

      Am glad you hope to be in Nigeria in September, attend any church with your voice recorder, you’ll see my points brother, mind boggling! It would not be from the usual suspects of the ‘uneducated villagers’, it is from those educated, they knew bible inside out in both local and English language and yet appropriate meaning is lost… completely.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Why, my African sister, you have now placed me on the altar of humility, where I present a face of abject shame! Yes, the ‘scripture’ you quoted is true to a point and oh my yes, it can definitely be interpreted in any of a number of ways (and not only in Nigeria, but in California as well) by the “leaders” of organized religion to illustrate their teachings. There is no solution to this misguided illusionary creation of “man” that “God” has chosen them as his spokesman here on earth and they and they alone know the true meaning/interpretation of his word (written by who knows whom by-the-way) it’s such a hedious farce this thing we call “organized religion” and the interpreters (be he Pope, Archbishop, Dalai Llama or whomever) should all be ignored

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh the uh, “V” word and all should be discussed in private between the people most concerned with the interactions required to properly use (bad choice of words; admittedly) and ‘enjoy’ and the resulting mistakes – if any – should be addressed by the same two (or more?) people, not society, not the ‘church’ and definitely not the government!!! And yes, misbehaving children should be spanked!!!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Parents will eventually do what feel right to them to be the best tool to discpline their children. In the US or UK for example where government have taken interest on what goes on behind the closed doors, they knew not all adults behave rationally when it comes to matching discipline with offence and those at the receiving end can not always fight back hence the interference to protect the ‘powerless’

          The church can not be held accountable for anything, in my view it has absolutely no say in this matter as all they do is confuse people.


  5. You seem lost in Borrowed Culture.Your Tongue has been cut and you cannot communicate . YORUBA is a richer and deeper language than English . The translation is very appropriate and not a Literary face value . It was done by BISHOP AJAYI CROWTHER .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prince Adenle – Grateful to see comment such as yours as it says volume.

      Thank you for yelling out the Bishop’s name, not sure why you thought I needed lecture but thanks nonetheless. Bishop Crowther was not mentioned because my post has nothing to do with credibility of his work and the fact that the he supervised the translation isn’t the same as him being the sole translator of the christian holy book into Yoruba.

      I learnt most that I know about bible in Yoruba so if the translation was seriously flawed little wonder the state we get ourselves in in regards to attitude towards bible. So tell me Prince, what this has to do with the richness of any language?

      Chris Abani, a Nigerian author who by the way I would recommend you reading so you can get more insights to your culture joked about a mis-translation of bible to local language as well, this time from Igbo to a Cameroon local language – maybe to tell him off too? See here in 5:24 in the video. https://folakemiodoaje.com/2014/11/04/africa-stories-moving-beyond-wounds-and-self-loothing/

      Of course I am lost in ‘borrowed’ culture because I have learnt it is okay to revisit what our past elders have done and evaluate how that has massively affected our attitude today, where positive, we keep on following and improving, where is negatively pulling us down for example your favourite ‘it’s our tradition’ on royal families, we revisit so as to enlighten for peace to reign.

      Have a great weekend.


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