Globalization is the cause of the breakdown of the extended family.
OK, so I grew up in a 2 bedroom house with my mum, grandmother, 2 aunties, 4 uncles, grandfather, 2 cousins and a pet cat I had a love-hate relationship with. My great grandmother lived about 30 minute walk away from my house and all my cousins and other family members were only a 30- 40 minutes car journey away. I felt very close to all my family growing up because I saw almost all my cousins during family occasions such as weddings and funerals or they would just come round anytime they wanted because well… my grandmother cooked too often.
As well, I knew and understood the essence of family ties and looking out for my cousins even though I was the youngest out of all of them. I guess geography made it much easier to develop healthy relationships with extended family members. For example: I couldn’t wait for school to close for vacation during August because I knew I would get to spend over 3 weeks with my father’s side of the family and I would see all my other cousins and aunties and uncles and grandparents from that side of the family.
The funny thing is, I never missed anyone because I could see most of my family members all the time. My primary school was 15 minutes away from my uncle’s shop and it was also a walking distance to where my grandmother sold food on the roadside. Additionally, I always used to run into my aunties during break and lunch times and I would force them to buy me sweets or ice creams.
So much has changed! I mean obviously because we have all grown up and moved houses and even migrated to different countries. Right now, one of my aunties’ lives in Ukraine, I have an Uncle in Argentina and the rest of my family are in Ghana. The sad thing about it all is that we are disintegrated physically and it is having an indirect mental effect on all of us.
Globalization has changed the concept of extended family a lot. I mean growing up it sounded so great to tell someone that you had family members living abroad or even in Accra because when I was young I thought Accra was very close to London (only because it has a big airport). I remember I would do something bad at home and my mother would threaten me with telling my uncle who would easily walk like 20 minutes to our house and tell me to behave or he would not take me to Sunday school. Now it is very different, I am only close to my uncles when I call them or they call me because we are all so busy trying to make it that nobody has much time to invest in family ties anymore.
Globalization is probably to blame for this because if I was still in Ghana and living in the same town as I did growing up…then maybe I would still be close to all my family members. Well, I am not so sure of this either because even when I do go back to Ghana, it is difficult to see all my family members purely because it is not that easy to move from one city to the other to visit people. Moreover, people’s lives have changed massively due to employment, education, marriage and creating their own identities in various spaces and places.
My only complaint is that globalization is slowly diminishing the role of the family in breeding individualism. The idea of collective identity plays a major role in people finding their individual selves. For instance; the person that I am today is credited mostly to my mum and grandmother because of how they raised me up. At the same time, I know my geographical surroundings have played a significant part in my life experiences as well. Nonetheless, I know that the foundation of my individuality is grounded in where I come from- that is my family and also where I was born.
On the other hand, in contemporary society, the idea of the family is not as strong as it used to be due to factors like employment which has physically dispersed all of us over the face of the earth. At the same time, I know that geographical locations should not hinder us from committing to and investing in familial relationships; but it does and it is quite sad.
When I realized all this, I wanted to personally do something about my relationship with other family members. Of course, I acknowledge how much people have changed and grown into their individual beings and how that will impact on the way I relate to them now. Regardless of all this, I think it is so important to invest in relationships with family members because people go through so much and the closest people to them are often the ones who knew nothing about them.
I know there will always be those few family members who are still holding grudges because of something your mother did to them even before you were born… that does not concern you my brother and sister. Just focus on trying to build good healthy relationships with the people around you. But if you get aunties, uncles or cousins saying they want nothing to do with you because your mother stole her boyfriend or her top when they were young (my mum and my aunties have petty fights over things like this lool) just forget it and pray for their soul.
The aim should be to make time for people now and not be there wishing we had when they are dead.