I am just being Me.
Have you ever seen that Pastor's son who was brought up the right way? From the moment he was a toddler his father taught him right from wrong. He taught him about the essence of living an ethical and moral life. A life dedicated to the praise and service of God. A life devoted to the love of mankind and charity. A life full of selfless devotion free of vanity, greed and over ambition.
Yet somehow as the pastor's son grows up he starts to rebel against all these moral teachings. He becomes rebellious and rejoices in causing discomfort for his righteous dad. His rebellion is usually a reaction to years of trying to live up to the expectation of an authority figure who always wants a little bit more out of him. A father who expects him to behave like a saint because he was his son.
His rebellion is a rejection of society's expectations of him. A society that expects him to be somewhat better than others because he was a pastor's son. A society in which other children were forgiven for doing wrong. A society that said boys will be boys and interpreted the rebellion of its children as acts of youthful indiscretion.
Yet, in the midst of all this forgiveness and understanding, no one is willing to give the pastor's son a break. "He is the pastor's son", they cry, " he ought to know better". "What is wrong with you?" They cry.
Nothing is wrong with the pastor's son. He is just being a boy, a kid. He is just learning to grow up. Society just expects so much more from him. His friends party, enjoy games, are allowed to be wild. Yet he is expected to be an adult child. To grow up leading a life that is not that of a child because he is the pastors son. He grows up with a bitter mind, a fractured spirit and a rebellious nature.
The pastor's son grows up bitter at a society that expects so much from him. A society that does not give him a chance to be himself. A society that does not accord him the opportunity to develop his own identity.
I grew up in Segbwema a Sheriff. My family is a family of Imams. I have so many Imams in my family that in heaven I expect that every fourth person I come across should be an uncle. There is so much piety in my family that if Heaven had real estate, my family would definitely be agents. I went to Christian schools with normal friends from regular families. My life growing up was one of contradictions. My friends would be having fun and look at me in amazement if I join in. They would say " but you are a Sheriff!" I would say to my friends "but I am doing exactly what you are doing so what is wrong?"
" Well we are not Sheriffs" they would say, "you are"
Thus started my years of discontent and rebelliousness. I was tired of people not letting me be me, but expecting me to be what they wanted me to be. I was tired of living up to expectations I had not set for myself. I had never gone to a Quranic school. I had gone to Christian and government schools. Yet my peers and adults expected me to behave as if I was an Imam in training. I just wanted to be me; Sheku Sheriff, Moi Segbwema, who wanted to do all the things his friends were doing. I wanted to go to Discoramas, to go to parties, to have a girlfriend, to be loved. I wanted to be a young boy in my teenage years, I wanted to just be me.
To those cousins who thought I would go astray, well I did not. I grew up regular and in my own time, and at my own pace, have developed a love for and a close relationship to good. To all those uncles who thought I was a Munafiq, a Kafiroon, well I am not.
Pastors and Imams teach your children right from wrong, but allow them to be children. Do not let them grow to be bitter, frustrated and rejected. Human life has stages if development. At each stage an individual has to learn and master some aspect of life. Toddlers learn to crawl, the teenager learns who he is and learns to accept himself. The man in his twenties learns to develop a family and the old man in his 80s learns to accept the life he has led. Let your children learn who they are, give them chance.
To all the sons of Pastors and Imams all over the world, may God help you discover who you truly are. As for me, I was just being me.