Bottomline: Beyond the good memories, we must not forget the bad ones
In the world of fond childhood memories, a person, upon being asked, will draw the most colorful, most wholesome picture of their younger selves. They will say
“I was cheeky, I had the most fun time, but I was very loveable, in fact so loveable they nicknamed me (insert cheesy affectionate name here) “
Or better yet, they will say “Oh, I was one of those children. ‘Si unajua tu hao’, I brushed my teeth on time; I learnt the alphabets before I even joined school. In fact I read Charles Dickens’ books for my mother as part of her bedtime stories, here, see this picture of me greeting the president.”
But beyond all this, you will realize (and I will probably point this out a lot during these commentaries) that humans are inherently liars. I don’t mean the delicately planned, I-have-tricked-the-police-into-thinking-I-am-male-when-I-am-a-thirty-year-old-librarian-woman lies, I am talking about white lies, half lies, ‘I am concealing part of the truth’ lies.
Point in case, you are a childhood fond memory teller (the cheeky nickname having one) , what you haven’t told, and lied about through detail omission, is the fact that you were constantly putting up antics to get your parent’s attention, You were always being punished, sometimes even for things you didn’t do.
Memory repression comes from a person’s need to block out unpleasant and unwanted memories simply because he/she does not want to associate themselves with that part of their life. It is a subconscious act because the brain is protecting the individual from the stress and trauma of such events.
On that note, I think we can all agree that being a Kenyan child was an extended field trip through an horror movie. It is animated and glossed over with culture.
Beyond the good memories, we must not forget the bad ones. Sure, different people from different backgrounds have several stories to tell, but we all went through physical /emotional punishments, where a parent or teacher would come up with several different ways to beat you into submission to show superiority. Teachers would try to top each other on how bad they can make it for a student.
The English teacher might have made them carry around tree stumps all day for no logical reason, but as the Mathematics teacher, I will ensure they remember my name for the rest of their lives, I will ensure they hug trees, I will embarrass them by making them kneel in front of the assembly with placards reading ‘ i am a dunce’ on their chests before caning them thoroughly.
We need to acknowledge the fact that not all childhood memories are fond, some were pretty traumatizing, as they added to the fears and mental illnesses people have grown up with, especially millennials. Since mental health and the rising rates of suicide is a topic that is now being acknowledged for all its seriousness, may be the solution is at the source. Maybe we should all start at the beginning.