25 April 2006

The 'Tokunbo' baby

On my way back from my shopping on saturday, I dropped by (unannounced!) to see some friends who had recently moved house. My 20 min visit stretched into 3 hours, I had that much fun. They had both recently returned from trips abroad, one from SA, the other from the US, and we had enough to talk about, child rearing, house-work sans help, conditions for hiring help in SA, arrangy marriage, living in the US as an illegal, etc etc. I asked if they had heard the latest from Eleke (a.k.a Louis Faraquan) Crescent, I had only recently heard it myself - Mothers of 'Tokunbo' babies are being asked to return in 99 years time to renew their visas. Recalling we had a friend who was hell bent on having a 'Tokunbo' baby and who had already made the safe crossing to the US, I asked if they had heard from her and if she had been delivered of her baby. Yes she was fine, and no the baby had not come. Why are we like this? Oyinbo say make you no come, must you go? This our friend had done extensive research before buying a ticket and going to the US to give birth and everyone told her the same thing, oyinbo will not renew your visa and will blacklist your family. Fashi. Na lie this girl still buy ticket go kack for yankee dey wait to born yankee citizen. When I asked why she felt she had to do this, she reeled of a long list of reasons, the child would be able to file for his siblings and parents, the child can go to Harvard and they will not need to pay international rates, hold up. What if this child doesn't want to go to college? She hadn't obviously thought that far! Oyinbo wey get all your details for database, you think they will really let that child file for you? I quickly change the topic, she is a Christian and I could see she wanted to 'faith' it through, no need me jinxing the whole thing for her. I am a Christian also, but I don't think we should be wasting Gods precious time faithing things like yankee pali for our unborn children, when we are clearly breaking the law.

The undelying reason for the 'Tokunbo' baby is the desire of the parent to surpass his own upbringing. This is good but in giving your children what you never had, shouldn't you give them what you had as well? Home cooked meals, a parent taking you to and picking you up from school, weekend baths that turn into water wars, having a parent tuck you in at night, doing homework with someone who actually went to school, watching tv together, having atleast two meals together as a family on a dining table, being embarrased when your parent takes part in the parents race during inter-house sports and doesn't win, worse they fall down, climbing trees for mango and oranges, playing outside from morning till night on school holidays, playing in the rain, falling and having your mum kiss it better almost immediately, having lessons under a tree at home after a shower, lunch and a nap, washing your plate after meals standing on a stool, filling bottles from the filter. I look at parents my age, killing themselves to be able to afford to have a 'Tokunbo' baby forgetting they were not raised by house-girls/boys, nannies, drivers etc. You see them all over the place parents my age, totting kids decked out in designer wear like they were the latest fashion accessory, these kids covered in all sorts of skin ailments, with teeth rotting all because the parents have entrusted their responsibility to the hired help. We were raised by parents whom we saw during daylight hours on weekdays, who taught us how to ride bicycles, settled quarrels between ourselves and our best friends. We learned so much from our parents who were not 'smart' enough to have ensured we were born abroad so we could carry blue or red pali. It will be a huge pity if we fail to invest as much care and attention into our own kids as we try to give them a 'better' life.


DingProof said...

Is there anywhere I can read more on this gist about non renewal of Visas for Tokunbo mummies? I doubt that it's a blanket thing across board though

tori said...

im not sure i understood this post... mothers who go to give birth in yankee and stay there but send the children back? Im a bit lost about the part where you talk about the kids not being properly cared for.

adefunke said...

@dingproof: My friend had her visa cancelled as well as that of her husband and 2 children. Reason - she had her 3rd child in the US without permission, 6 years ago.

A colleague's wife was asked to return in 99 years time, she had a baby in the US last year.

My friends boss was actually asked to return in 99 years time, she had a baby in the US last year.

I doubt this policy is one they would put on their website or anywhere in writing for that matter.

songreach said...

I am a US citizen of a proud Nigerian heritage. I grew up in Nigeria and moved to the US many years ago to study. I can not emphasize enough how proud I am of this blog entry. Nigerians have a distorted image of life abroad...and when you tell people to be proud of their heritage they make it seem like you don't want them to have the "good life"

songreach said...

I was wondering if you could do a post on reliable healthcare centers to have good pre/postnatal care and delivery in Nigeria.

My husband and I often have these "talks" about tokunbo babies and his argument is that there no reliable facilities in Nigeria and again if there are, how affordable are they for the masses?

adefunke said...

Well I disagree with your husband. True medical infrastruture in Nigeria leaves much to be desired, but thats not the underlying reason for the tokunbo baby. I mean you could go have your baby in SA, Europe, Cuba even and don't forget Isreal. No its not about the health care system, its about the Pali, and the doors it will hopefully open for the baby.

Smilodon said...

Hello everyone,

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, I'm wondering if this unfair consular produre has anything to do with what I heard about how a lot of these "expectant mothers" abuse the mandatory emergency room care in the US.

I have a relative who is a physician that told me they were always having those type of emergency room deliveries, and the hospital never got paid for the services rendered because the patients simply vanished (no valid contact address) afterwards.

Ofcourse, he knew those folks were already back in Naija by the time the medical institution starts to vigorously pursue the billing reinbursement, but he knew it's only a matter of time before s**t hits the fan.


DiAmOnD hawk said...

well you really cant blame the parents for hoping for a better quality of life for their children which is what the blue and red stand for at this time

99 years? is that for real...I really do think the embassies take things too far...why should anyone need their permission to have a baby...well if you can orchestrate having a baby in the embassy...you can save yourself a trip

but then again, why dont we all stop running away and stay and FIGHT for a better quality of living in Nigeria...so that it will be HARDER for people to come to nigeria...Nigeria will be the New America...a Better England...I can only dream I guess...