‘Mom, I want to study Music’ I heard my little brother say from across the room. I unconsciously closed my book as I directed all attention to the ensuing conversation.

My mother took some minutes to regain her composure after such shocking news my brother had so lightly delivered. ‘Why Music?’ My mother finally asked.

‘I love music. I don’t imagine studying any other course. To be honest, nothing else interests me.’ He spoke out of sincerity.

My mom paused for a while before she spoke ‘we’ll discuss this when your dad returns’.

We all knew what that meant. It was never a good thing. It was more like facing a panel of unbreakable opinions. I was quite curious about the end of this news my brother had courageously exposed.

Jide, my little brother was the musician of the family. Everyone knew that. But studying Music as a course? That was a hobby gone too far. I couldn’t help but admire how gutsy he was. I was never so bold to confront my parents about my interests. I was the perfect kid, you may add. Graduated top of my class. Followed dad’s career path of being a Diplomat. I love my job. But then again, I can hardly hide my inclination for fashion designing. The first time I mentioned that to my dad as a kid led to an outburst of laughter I had never heard before. In but a few seconds, he had successfully crushed whatever desires I had of pursuing fashion designing. As I said earlier, I love my job. Or am I just trying to convince myself?

‘Funmi!’ My mother’s voice pierced through my thoughts.

‘Yes mom’ I abruptly responded, following the direction of her voice which led me to their bedroom.

‘What’s wrong with your brother eh? Why does he insist on disappointing us?’ She barely waited for me to close the door before she began her lamentations.  I quietly sat beside her on the bed and leant her the listening ears she desperately needed, pending when my dad would return from his conference.

I was a bit confused at my mom’s undisguised displeasure at my brother’s decision. If anything, she was the more liberal one in my family who believed in pursuing one’s dreams. As a successful social worker, she always used herself as an example when it came to the wholehearted pursuit of purpose. So why was this different? Why was mine different? Not like I ever pushed for it seriously. But why was this different? I returned to the issue at hand.

‘Mom, what’s wrong with studying Music?’ I was clearly treading on enemy territory with that question but I just couldn’t help it.

Just as I had expected, she gave me the look. The look that a typical Nigerian mom gives her child who is asking a rather stupid question. She began to voice out her fears on how he would be perceived. The son of an honourable Diplomat turning out to be a musician? After paying so much money for school. She heaved a deep sigh and secured her face in her palms. She was so concerned about the perception that would come our way from the thousand unrelated acquaintances she had. I didn’t know what else to say so I quietly enjoyed the silence.

Although we had lived abroad for well over 10 years owing to dad’s career, my family was still as African as our skin colour. Of course remaining true to who we are is a major plus but often times, traditional thinking such as this leaves me rather frustrated.

I tried to ease my mom out of her fears reminding her of famous musicians who even perform for the presidents and ceremonial heads.

‘Just imagine the honour it would be to see Jide performing at the President’s ball or any elitist party’ I babbled relentlessly. Trust me to see the silver lining behind every cloud, I was known for that.

That seemed to brighten her up a little as she lifted her eyes as though seeing the picture of the future.

‘Our son could become a famous musician ‘ she thought aloud. I nodded in affirmation.

Jide who had been eavesdropping smiled and hugged me as I got out of my mom’s room. I admired his dogged nature and I believed in him.

‘Don’t get too excited. Mom spoke with dad and he said it’s either you go to Julliard or you study something else’ a smirk played across my face because I knew my brother as a hip hop artist who didn’t really appreciate classical.

‘That’s not a problem’ he said with a wink and skedaddled.

I wonder what would have happened if I had taken the leap of faith as he did. If I turned my so-called fashion designing hobby into reality. I can’t start crying over spilled milk jare. It’s too late. Or is it really? Is it ever too late as long when you’re still alive and breathing?

©Mfon Etuk, 2016.


What do you think about the idea of influencing your child’s course of study? (bearing in mind that kids never really know what they want). Would you rather say it’s a way of protecting kids from the disappointments that come with pursuing hobbies? As a parent, would you allow your kid study any course (even when you know it’s not a serious money-maker)? I’d like to hear your thoughts! 

21 thoughts on “Music or nah?

  1. Nice one. Well my parent always supported my career choice even when there was a point where I changed it frequently . I think that’s what parents should do.


  2. For the first i would read something that is 98% African on ur blog. I’m sure a lot of parents made that mistake in time past and we the next generation parents shouldn’t follow that trend. The best thing we can do is expose them to so many career path and encourage them to be whatever they wana be. I LOVE THIS. Well done buddy.


  3. Hi, Dainty,

    I so much relate to this post. I think parents (Nigerian parents especially) are to play a major role in their child’s life to guide and help them to navigate life to make right choice(s) and not force then on a particular part in life through their life experiences and knowledge.

    Talents and gifts are closely related, However in my opinion, talents helps us to realize what we are naturally good at and to work on it to be our best. Only few actually end up to develop their talents to make something of it. KFC is a product of a person who used his talent back to after spending a good part of his life moving from one Job to another. At old age, Colonel Sanders founded Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) based on what he knows how to do best, which is fried chicken.

    My point is as Africans, our parents (and some of us when we become one) think some career paths are beneath us with respect to the level of education, upbringing and exposure. Parents are proud to say my child is a Medical Doctor, Chattered Accountant, Lawyer or an Engineer rather than He is a musician, a mechanic or a tailor. But the truth is it takes God’s wisdom to actually succeed in any career path.

    With Education added to the talent(s) we have, we would operate in latter industries with great wisdom and approach that would make our parents say He is an Auto-Mechanic, (s)he is an International Fashion Designer ((s)he sews for Presidents and Ambassadors), (s)he is a word renowned Gospel musician ((s)he performs at various concerts packed up, plays, performs in various V.I.P. functions) e.t.c.

    African Parents are the best. But caution needs to be taken so children are not led to choose a career path they would make them end up living a miserable life. And it is not for parents to influence a child’s life to live his/her own dream (s)he missed out on or would have love to if they had a second chance to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said! I’m literally clapping because you’ve said all the things I didn’t. Talents need to be developed with the added advantage of education. Not treated as just a hobby. And yeah parents should serve as guides but not try to make their kids live the lives they didn’t. Thank you so much for your contribution TJ.


  4. Don’t know iv been missing lots of interesting read overhere. Well done dear
    Just to add, the choice of a career path should not be totally based on parent’s interest. However, as a result of their experiences, they might guide a child towards a successful career path but in the case whereby a child is persistent and knows what he really wants, the best bet here is their unflinching support to realize the dream.


  5. Hmm, first of all, nice piece Dainty I’ve missed reading them, I have enough to catch up. Well so far the experience I’ve been through has taught me that if you do something you passionately like, the money will follow it might just be a matter of time 😊


  6. Why wouldn’t you support your child and his/her quest to understand the thoughts and feelings that researchers and musicians have dedicated their lives to figure out? It’s not concrete; everyone can and does experience/witness music in whatever way it chooses to affect them. Studying music isn’t wasteful, it’s beneficial to you, me, the entire world.


    1. I agree with you on that! Music and other art courses are beneficial to humanity (even when people don’t admit it). Thanks for opening us up to that!


  7. I remember wanting to study Psychology and my mom told me no, she wasn’t paying for it. Long story short, I majored in something I don’t regret…but now I am moving more towards a career that I love and you can too. Its never too late!


  8. you know i read this and thought about it, if my child comes and says he wants to study music or something, you really have to win me in an argument especially when from observation i think you can be better at something else.
    i think parents should have say, the question should be where do we draw the line ?


  9. Hmmm, I honestly don’t know what I’d do. I remember my dad saying (when I was about to pick a course for uni) that yes, he may have his own desires but that whatever we study, do and achieve in life is more for ourselves than him. Seems wise.


    1. That’s really wise! I think some are a little more over-protective and wouldn’t want us to go through the disappointments of our intended courses. But I think every parent should be ‘cool’ enough to let their kids lead their lives. Thanks for sharing Tony 🙂


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