Book Review: How to Raise Boys – A Voice from an African Father with an African Perspective

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Book Title: How to Raise Boys – A Voice from an African Father with an African Perspective.

Author: Pharis Murangai

Parenting has never been more challenging with the modern and professional lifestyles. The advent of social media and the many rights enshrined in our Constitution for men, women and children have not made it any easier.

The challenge has been even more for parents with boys, at a time when there is so much focus by the Government and Non-Governmental Organisations. (NGOs) on the girl-child education, welfare and mentorship programmes.

It is in view of the above that Pharis Murangai, a family coach and researcher, has put pen to paper to address the sensitive issue by publishing a 134-page book entitled: How to Raise Boys – A Voice from an African Father with an African perspective.

According to the Murangai, the book has been developed to meet the realities of the 21st Century and is an incisive discourse on the fears, worries and aspirations that confront fathers and mothers as well as the society as a whole with regards to raising boys.

Says Murangai: “It is certain that every parent yearns to have their sons grow and develop as caring, responsible and confident individuals. This book is mainly concerned with how parents can actively and consciously walk with their children, especially the boy-child, in the journey to adulthood.”

The easy-to-read book is broken into nine chapters that deal with topical and relevant issues to the boys, their siblings, parents and the society at large. “Naturally, everybody wants to be a proud father or mother, but what draws the line is the art of parenting,” says Murangai.

On the chapter on The Role of a Mother, the author describes mothers as: “A wonderful gift to the world”, noting that it is virtually difficult to imagine a role reversal in which men get pregnant, carry the pregnancy to full term, deliver and nurture the child until death. To him, mankind could annihilate itself.

According to Murangai, who has first-hand experience, having been brought up as the first-born together with his four siblings by a single mother, motherhood is not easy. He notes that a mother usually labours for long hours, has no sick off days, and there is no place for her to go in case she wants to resign.

Says Murangai, who is a part-time lecturer at several local universities on religious and cultural studies: “A mother must make the home a refuge. Peace and tranquillity at home is paramount. When the environment out there is sometimes embarrassing, presenting unfair competition and bullies, a boy must always recall that their home is peaceful and run there for comfort. Over to you mothers, the ball is in your court.”

The topics that the book confronts include the controversial subject of homosexuality, which the author refers to as a unique challenge to African parents. The other topics are: Raising a boy: Why We Must Parent Boys; Obscured Masculinity – A 21st Century Tragedy; Role of the Father; Role of the Mother and Disciplining Boys. It also addresses the twin topics of How to Identify Support Systems; and of Practical Action Points.

The chapter on Raising Boys brings into perspective the uniqueness in raising boys in Africa unlike any other place in the world and how that uniqueness poses a challenge, if ignored. The chapter on Why We Must Parents, the author says, explains the difference between boys ‘growing up” in the house versus “being brought up” in our families. The latter being the conscious hard work on the shoulders of parents.

Another interesting topic is on Obscured Masculinity, where the author comes out to defend manhood that is apparently besieged, saying: “We must raise our sons as men and make them learn to take responsibility.”

The book notes that the role each parent plays in raising the boy is significant. The role of a mother is equally important as that of a father. The father’s role is fundamentally important to the growth and development of a boy as he influences their social and emotional stability as well as a sense of care and responsibility within and outside the family.

Murangai, who is a father of one son, says: “Fathers, stand and be counted, the world needs you to raise the heroes of our time. Fatherhood is a position of great responsibility that is almost equivalent to a divine role. As fathers; we must do what it takes to raise great sons of Africa who are productive and caring members of the community.”

The book, which has just been published just as the Day of the African Child is about to be celebrated on June 16, is a journey of insights into the reality facing the boy child in Africa today.

The author intends to provoke dialogue and action in relation to parenting the boy-child in addition to raising consciousness. He is calling for action that will lead to re-invigoration in the whole discourse and practice of raising boys as gallant sons of Africa.

This book is highly recommended for parents, therapists, teachers, students and researchers.

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