Box: Authority Figures
Afrikrown Annual Art Exhibition
We are gradually coming to the end of the article series on the critical topic aptly named “Box” after dealing with some pertinent boxes earlier on and you can read up on them by clicking on the following links. I assure you, you will be glad you did.
Now onto the topic for the day, Authority Figures and how it creates a box for we Africans even without our awareness of it and for those of us that have been following the articles written this far, you will know that box can be further explained with the more known phrase “comfort zone” and you will rightly ask how authority figures can ever be a box.
The answer lies in the definition of the titular wordings as an authority figure is a person whose real or apparent authority over others inspires or demands obedience and emulation with some examples being our parents, elders, teachers amongst others. Reiterating what Mathew Nwafor explained, we can further grasp why ‘authority figures’ is can be seen as a box. He said;
Though the African society is communal, it is also hierarchical with regard and reverence given to elders and those in authority
The one word in the definition above I want to key in on is “emulation”. This is how the box is formed. We unconsciously try to model our lives and emulate the authority figures in our life to either seek their approval, regard or just for the fact that it is the way we know to live life and so we try to mirror them so much so that we run into the very real danger of losing ourselves and just becoming extensions of our authority figures.
This occurs most especially with our parent authority figure as if they have lived and become successful in life then we should take all they say hook, line, and sinker without question, right? Wrong. Our parents as knowledgeable as they are, are often prone to biases that life scars have embedded into their souls, their own Box if you will, and often without knowing it, they can transfer those biases and scars onto their offspring. In such an instance, the child grows up with a warped view of life, based on *their parent’s experience on life* not their own.
This is not to say that we should totally disregard what our parents teach us but it is wise as adults, to introspect and check the values bestowed upon us by our parents and see if they can coexist with the man/woman that we are becoming. This is what it means to think for oneself and break out of unconscious biases implanted in us by our forbearers and initial information and experiences.
The same goes for our elders and teachers as those are the two other main authority figures we have in Africa. They all mean well but we cannot live our lives based fully on the dictates of others even though they have more knowledge than us as at a certain point we have to break free and become our own person with our own values that may differ from what has been taught to us and this is what it means to grow. Finding and adopting new information.
A guiding rule of thumb that we should strive to adopt is that we all will soon become authority figures ourselves, so the question is, do we pass down to our next generation all that the previous authority figures have taught us without change or any tweak; or do we seek more knowledge, unlearn and relearn, for the purpose of having a fuller and better understanding about life, one that we can share with the generations to come? That is the question we all must answer.