Yesterday I went to spend Christmas with my parents and I was bemused to see different dishes in the kitchen with different kinds of rice, chicken and moi moi or salad. Each looked and tasted different and that's because they all came from different households.
I was like wow! It's been ages since I saw this that I thought it had stopped. I mean, would you believe that I've lived in the lekki axis for three years now and I have never seen my neighbours? I do not know and have never seen the people that live in the houses beside and behind mine. I hear their voices sometimes, I see their cars drive in and out, but I've never seen, much less know them. This is a far cry from my parents neighbourhood where during religious holidays people still cook and send dishes to the neighbours. During Sallah the muslims still send you juicy pieces of fried ram and rice too.
Coincidentally I came back home to an episode of Come Dine With Me SA. During a conversation, one of the diners said she couldn't imagine herself living in a neighborhood where she couldn't ask her neighbours to help keep an eye on her kids, or where she couldn't pop into a neighbour's house to borrow something. Apparently she loves the kind of communal living most of us grew up knowing. On the contrary, another diner said she just couldn't stand the thought of living in a neighborhood where you had to keep running into your neighbors, or be friends with them or have them in your business. She said she's perfectly fine not knowing who her neighbours are and actually does not want to know her neighbours or have to be friends with them or have them in her business.
Later in the evening, while still at my parents', I saw little kids from different families all come out to play together, the girls ran around gossiping, playing tenten, suwe and other fun games we played as kids. The boys chased balls, played with fireworks or toy cars. It was fun to watch, it was also alien to my nephews watched from a distance in amazement.
It made me wonder, don't these games among children foster a sense of bond and togetherness among the kids, does it perhaps improve their social skills, better than those kids whose play-time is limited to video games or computer games? But most importantly, doesn't it just build this sense of community? When we were kids it didn't matter if my mum had cooked or not, we could just pop into a neighbour's house and ask for lunch and be very well fed.
But apparently, like the second diner, not everyone likes this kind of living. Which do you prefer; the communal neighbourhood or the impersonal neighbourhood? Which kind of neightbourhood did you live in, growing up? Do share.
Quite honestly, I find that as a single young woman, I prefer the impersonal neighbourhood (even though there are times I wish I knew and had a relationship with my neighbours, for different reasons), but as a mother I'm not sure I'll still feel the same.