It Takes a Village

23 10 2009

As each of us focus on  getting to our very own “For Such a Time as This” moment (Esther 4:14) there are 6 targets that will have us move in this direction.  (see our Theme for 2009 tab above for more information on all 6) Here we start our look at Target 5 – “Give to Others”.

The term “It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb and upon further investigation I found out that it originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb “Ora na azu nwa” which means it takes the community/village to raise a child.  Thinking about this proverb reminds me of growing up in my community of South Central Los Angeles in the 70’s. When I was growing up, anyone from my neighborhood at any given time could reprimand me if I was bad or would invite me into their home for milk and cookies.   Actually my neighbors were my babysitters when my parents needed to go somewhere.  My mother would make a call and off I ran up the street to play with my friends while my mother went to the store or I would spend the night a day or 2 if my parents were traveling out of town etc… We even often went over to our neighbors to celebrate birthdays or other milestones in our community.  So the term, “it takes a village”, takes me to these memories as it was not just my mother and father raising me but my whole village who made contributions.  It is sad to realize that this same community/village is rarely seen in today’s society.  So when folks ask, what is happening to our children?  It’s not that parents are working longer hours or far less attentive to their children, but that our village concept has disbanded.  It was this village that helped pick up the pieces when parents needed that extra hand.   It is sad to say that in the world that today, letting our  village, or anyone other than trusted family or friends help with the rearing of our children could lead to hazardous results . If you don’t believe me, think of Elizabeth Smart or the countless children that have been abducted , kidnapped or snatched.  It is a sad but true, what can happen to children these days and it makes me wonder, what happened to our village?   I believe this African adage, “it takes a village” is the work I continue through Imani Phi Christ as we become the village that works hand in hand with parents to raise their children.  I started this program because I know how important my village was to my growth and development.

 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

So it is helping one another, reaching out to teach and bring up as an entire community that has shifted over time and with it, it has also shifted the landscape of our community.  It shifted as we came from marching together, fighting together and believing that no man is an island to everyone living on their own island, even when they live right next door to you.

Even Hillary Clinton, who at the time she was serving as First Lady of the United States, used the title, “It takes a Village” for the book she wrote that presented her vision for the children of America. She focuses on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have on a child’s well-being, and advocates for a society which meets all of a child’s needs.  So if it is indeed that a child can become a more responsible citizen by having caring and supportive adults in their lives, why aren’t more becoming the village our young people today need? 

It is interesting how in today’s world we are so focused on impressing others with our possessions or abilities that we often do not stop long enough to give to others so we can also make a difference in the world around us.   This is what I think of when I hear…It takes a village.  We will explore over the next weeks how we can become much more community focused as …. So this weeks the question to ponder is –  in what ways are you helping your village? 


“A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection…” – Rudolf Stiner

 “Men exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then or bear with them.” – Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

 “The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.” – Marian Wright Edelman




One response

23 10 2009
JC Conrad-Ellis

I’m trying to transfer the village concept with my children’s playmates and friends who are of a different racial and ethnic background since there’s not much diversity in our neighborhood. If I see/hear them say something incorrectly, I correct them. They often look at me oddly, but I do it anyway. My house-my rules. We have a group of neighbors from when we lived in Chicago and we clearly are the village. The children refer to each other as cousins and the adults as aunt/uncle. The parents have given each other carte blanche to “handle any situation” which means we can scold, reprimand, etc. It’s a beautiful thing, the village. The kids know that we are the authority figures and although there’s a lot of love, we are not their friends and will not co-sign foolishness. Hilary had it right, it takes a village. And First lady Michelle Obama is clearly raising her girls with the village concept.

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