I don’t own a car. So I am often walking on the streets of this beautiful country of ours, enjoying the scenery and trying to get to my destination in one piece. I notice that our streets are very clean and well maintained. Very pleasing to look at but I can’t help but notice the street children: they are everywhere.
I meet them as I walk to the stage early in the morning on my way to work, when I reach town, as I walk to my workplace and even as I walk to Kwa Rubangura in the evening to get a taxi to take me home.
I always wonder as I pass by them in the morning why they aren’t in school; these are children who are of a school going age most, belonging to the nursery category.
So, I ask myself, if the children who are going to make the future of our country are not going to school, then what are we building, it’s like we are working hard for a better future that is already wasted.
Pondering this thought, I decided to look more carefully into this and just try to understand what these children are doing on the streets. I learnt that these children are not alone.
Their parents are usually just a few meters away looking out for their children while giving them a distance so they appear orphaned and pitiful to a passer-by who won’t be able to stand looking at a poor child all alone on the streets and not offer them a coin.
These children are well trained by their parents. They ask for money from every possible passer-by and are relentless in their quest.
Believe me, from experience, if one approaches you and asks for money; just give him or her a coin because if you don’t, you will face a song of “please give me a coin” till you give up the coin.
So save yourself this trauma and just give in the coin to the child and dodge the adults because if you give the adults plus the children, your pockets will quickly be emptied and you will turn into the one in need instead. You will become the beggar at home asking for transport for the next day or even lunch money.
The children are so intent on their money collecting mission that they will tell you straight forward when you ask them where their parents are that they don’t know so they can portray themselves as abandoned. I guess these are skills they inherit from their parents who are also cunning.
I once met a woman who was exposing her baby that she was carrying on her back to the scorching sun in spite of having an umbrella just so she could prove a point when asking for money to buy a drink for her thirsty child. Can you imagine? The children are now the means of gaining money.
Last Monday, I met this young boy of about four years of age at Centenary House. I asked him where his mother was and he boldly told me that he didn’t know yet the mother was watching from just a meter away.
It set me thinking and wondering that if that young boy could tell lies in the chase of money at his age, maybe the future is not so bleak.
I know I don’t sound like I am making any sense but look at it this way, let me take you through it slowly: look at the big and successful business men around, they are the biggest con men ever.
The guy convinces you of providing the best services that he only can efficiently provide, telling you that he has offered you the best price that you can’t get anywhere else.
However, all this is just sales talk because you can find the same service elsewhere at an even much cheaper price. So what am I saying here?
Maybe, and am not saying I support this, maybe these children are rudimentarily learning business skills from the streets, skills that will be beneficial to the future of the country’s economy if applied.
These children could have the potential to build the private sector seeing as the sector is still at a low level. It is not the best of ways to train our children into entrepreneurship but if they cannot afford to go to school, then maybe it’s better than sitting at home waiting for God knows what, each day as it comes?
So the question remains are we going to groom our future business guys on the streets or we are going to ensure they go to school and have appropriate education in order to move ahead?