Last June was reserved for school graduations. The Johnson, Momoh, Saidu and Massaquoi families and many other Sierra Leonean families in Minnesota and across the USA were grateful and ecstatic to see their sons and daughters graduate from high school and get ready for college.
These families had every right to be happy. They had spent years taking these kids to soccer, ballet and basketball practices., treating them with trips to McDonalds and KFC for special achievements and birthdays. Raising children in America is a real sacrifice in time and finances. So it is a real relief whenever children pay back by graduating from high school without becoming menaces to society.
We sometimes blame American children for their lack of regard for elders, rough manners and "I don't care" lifestyles. We must be mindful of the fact though that these kids did not grow up in the small Sierra Leone towns and villages with rigid social structures, in which we grew up. We were thoroughly flogged for even daring to question our elders, regardless of how ridiculous their beliefs were.
American kids are bombarded on all sides by technological advances, constant changes in the legal environment, dangerous drugs, predatory characters, and so on. It therefore is a moment of pure and unadulterated joy when a child overcomes all these obstacles and becomes a normal and sane character, ready for the rigors of tertiary education. It represents for us Africans the hope that they will not become the monsters of the future, bound for the rough American penitentiaries, but will become responsible adults taking care of their own problems, and assisting us when they can to help our relatives back in our native Sierra Leone (Don't bank on them for this though.) Here are some graduation pictures I took in June.