RE: “Who is liable for a student’s misdeeds on their way to school?” (The New Times, September 7).
The fact that this question of who is responsible for the proper upbringing of Rwandan children is such a frequently asked question is truly worrisome. And it always appears to be a passing of the buck between school and parents. I think this is a trivial question to answer, and it is an answer identical to the one of the question: “Who gave birth to these kids?”
I have been observing this issue of kids and youth in general in Rwandan society, or at least in Kigali society. From my own observations, in general, there is zero community ownership of children in Kigali. I see kids in school uniforms running around recklessly on their way to and from school, each day. I see them banging on gates to harass people’s guard dogs. I see them jumping into streets of speeding traffic to retrieve whatever item it is they happen to be tossing around with each other in their games. And nobody does a thing about it. Nothing. People just stare.
Sadly, I still struggle to expand my Kinyarwanda vocabulary beyond the bits and pieces necessary to negotiate with boda boda drivers. So, the best I can do is grab the kid and pull them back on the sidewalk. But those around us who have the capacity to explain to the child why what they are doing is wrong and even dangerous, they just stare in that trademark Rwandan stare.
Only once, just once, there was an elderly man who gave them an admonishing “Abanaaa..” But is that all we’ve got? Is that going to be enough?
I grew up in Nigeria. And as problematic as children in Nigerian society are, I have to admit they are by far better behaved than the average Rwandan child, so much so that the comparison is almost unfair to us Rwandans (I am Rwandan-Nigerian).
What really worries me is the seemingly lack of comprehension of the danger in letting these kids run around all day long like unguided missiles. These children are our future, people. I am really scared that people won’t understand the grave danger we’re in, until these kids are old enough to shape society.
Do something now. Please. It is not enough to house them, clothe them, feed them. Children have to be actively nurtured into responsible human beings, so they may grow up as assets of society, and not liabilities of society.
Stop this silliness of trying to absolve yourselves of parental duties and trying to get the schools, and trying to get your maids to do your job for you.