Minding one’s business is a good thing. It also is a bad thing.
Growing up in Festac Town I saw the merits and demerits of either of both.
Around the mid eighties the people of that town visited their neighbours, they knew each other by name, their kids went over to play, mothers offered food in and out of festivals, there were hearty discussions during sanitation day – every last Saturday of the month. And most of all, someone else’s parent scolded and even beat you if you did wrong. When we got back from school before mummy we simply went over to the next flat and stayed there till mummy came.
People got all up in your business and that was not good. Everyone knew when you needed help and they offered it. It was a bad way of life, imagine everyone knowing your condition.
By the mid nineties things had changed for the better: Fences came up around buildings, neighbours became ‘busy’, kids were told to stay away from other people’s houses, food that was seldom offered suddenly became ‘laced with witchcraft’, and no parent dared to beat a child that wasn’t theirs. Sanitation day saw fewer, less enthused participants. The only chitchat was about the security of the immediate surrounding.
“build fences, erect gates, hire security guards, etc. Only after the talks were done with did anyone talk about the other’s family. And it usually didn’t go beyond “greet your family for me“.
Then if you happened to get home before mummy you had to wait in front of your house. Peradventure you got to wait in your neighbour’s house, you had to remember to refuse the food or drink they offered, if they offered. And when mummy returned and you got in your house the first question was “what did they give you to eat?“. Your answer to that determined where you sat in church the following Sunday and if you had to have a one on one with your pastor.
By the late nineties, childhood friends had become unfamiliar teenagers.