How millennials, Generation X can teach their children to form long-lasting relationships

What you need to know:

Regina was known for cooking the best meals, especially matooke and meat though she never went through any catering school

Recently, I traveled to my village (Kakukuru), which we once called ‘karoo karungi’(meaning beautiful village) to bury a lovely woman I have known my entire life.

Regina was known for cooking the best meals, especially matooke and meat though she never went through any catering school.

 She started out working on our plantation as a casual laborer, but because of her culinary talent, my grandmother would hire her during Easter and Christmas holidays to come home and put a special touch on her old hands-on family meals, and they (meals) were always lip-smacking.

Everyone at home became fond of her, she was my grandmother’s trusted friend, and she eventually came to live with us.

But as time marched on, and my grandparents fell sick and eventually rested, Regina was left to manage our upcountry home, a job she did perfectly well, until two years ago when she suffered from a stroke and died a week ago.

I had to bury her. We shared a special bond, whenever I was travelling home, I looked forward to her long hugs, endless laughter, and a very hot meal.

After the burial, I went around visiting family friends (my grandparents’ peers).

One couple (the man) said was happy to see me check on them, adding that in recent times, there is a growing disconnect between the young and old generations, and this is slowly eating away friendships they strived hard to build. 

His wife interjected and said, the onus is on us younger ones to keep family friendships intact, adding that after all, they are for our own good. She explained that one of the major reasons families then strived to form strong bonds was to build social capital, knowing that they could rely on each other during good and bad times.

She said when one doesn’t make an effort to be part of the bigger community, during the time of need, people will also abandon you.

Her statement reminded me of a story I had heard earlier that morning. One of the families has been absconding from events(burials, parties) of other community members, and when their loved one died, ‘villagers’ except for a few refused to help out with any work complaining that the family is not cooperative.

While earlier families intentionally created long-term relationships among adults, they also ensured that children from every family knew and were friends with one another for continuity purposes.

Though our village lost its old frame as a result of the test of time, but as millennials and Generation X, we learned one most important lesson from our parents and grandparents, and that is friendship.

For instance, whenever one of the families loses a loved one, almost every family has a representative(s) at the vigil or burial, and all families raise money collectively to support the family to see off their loved one in dignity.

However, today, the trend is changing. Generation Alpha (children born in or after 2010) and Generation Z (those born between 1997-2012) have little or no interest in forming such relations.

I have attended many events, both professional and social, but during these gatherings, these young people are on their smartphones throughout. When the event is over, they are usually the first people to leave. These generations being ‘babysat’ by social media, when do they make friends?

I am very well aware that times have greatly changed, and not all things can be done as they were many years ago.  However, there are beautiful African practices that we shouldn’t let die away, like families and or communities forming stronger bonds, it is one of the things that make us Africans.

Whether one is a ‘planned kid ‘as Ugandans like to joke, or an ‘unplanned kid’ from some village, one thing is certain. We cannot exist in a vacuum. We need each other, and we must teach our children to intentionally make meaningful friendships.

Much as social media as a form of communication is here to stay, it cannot replace the magic of human social interaction.

In times when we need one another such as during parties, burials, sickness, social media will not matter, but the physical presence of our family and friends will.

So, the responsibility is on the millennials and Generation X to teach their offspring to make lasting, and genuine friendships.

This is because I believe these generations have enjoyed the beauty or benefits of long-lasting relationships that were created by their parents and grandparents, and their own children can also benefit in adulthood if they choose to keep this practice.

Vivian Agaba, Journalist and consultant writer/editor