“Uncle, to tell you the truth, I failed exams because I never attended classes at all. I have a group of students who have taught me to drink alcohol, smoke and many other things.
This is what pre-occupied most of my time at school, but I promise to reform. I have realized that I am heading for disaster”.
These were words said by Alex -17 (not real name) while telling me the story of his school life. I was furiously asking him why his academic performance was declining. From his long story, I realized that some parents are the ones to beblamed for such scenarios.
Parents are in most cases responsible for children’s moral decadency especially during the holidays. This comes because they allow students to stay idle and consequently disorderly all the time.
Morality is increasingly becoming an issue because almost every parent is complaining about it, yet no one seems to be coming up with a tangible solution. When we see children misbehaving whether they are our own or not, we should take the initiative and seek a remedy.
That is why: the first lady came up with a slogan that, “Fata umwana wese nkuwawe”- translated as -“treat every child like yours”.
But, are we heeding the advice? No, in most cases we actually do the reverse. We only laugh off children’s mess as silly and unfortunately typical of today’s generation.
When do children engage in poor behaviour? There are many different ways, but I am concerned with what parents fail to see.
You will find a parent in a rural area leaving his children in bed and go to work in a garden the whole day. The same person again prepares food for the so-called learned children, who after eating, start roaming around the village in trading centres.
The same applies to children whose parents are either businesspersons or workers in urban areas. Like the hunter and the hunted, they all wait for a similar fate.
The so-called freedom turns into another biblical Sodom as it leaves our children exposed to all sorts of world evils. No parent should be blindfolded by child rights initiatives.
Children’s rights have nothing to do with the creation of a damaging environment for them. Parents should be able to draw a dichotomy between children’s rights and proper nurturing.
I say this because I believe children have the right to interact freely. This is the great challenge for a parent to shoulder all the time.
Due to ignorance and probably irresponsibility, most parents expose their children to dangers that have resulted into immorality of the highest order.
Take an example from the confession we have just had from Alex. Alex was a very clever boy who was always first in class.
But because his parents gave him all the freedom during holidays to move wherever he wanted, in wedding ceremonies, night clubs, etcetera, he is what he tells us today.
The environment, in which he was exposed at the age when he had not matured to tell what is right or wrong, spoiled him.
Moreover, in such case the parent cannot escape but has to take a lion’s share of the blame.
It is therefore, not surprising to find a son or daughter of a pastor or a tough disciplinarian parent, smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol and doing all nasty things on earth.
Such parents have resigned and are actually living a sad reality of their children’s behaviours. They should not however, resign from their duties as parents, but seek guidance to reverse such habits.
The proverb, “An idle mind is the devils’ workshop” should feature in such guidelines. The children as matter of reality encounter a moral shift from what their good parents had taught them, simply because they fail to tame the external environment.
For example, parents should draw a working timetable for their children as they enter holidays. Children need to be engaged throughout the day, so that they do not get space to ‘work for the devil’.
Whenever you either see children roaming in villages or in towns, then know that, something is wrong.
In fact their preys have gone far to dehumanize these children so that when they harm them, no one should cause an alarm.
The girls are referred to as grasshoppers and boys as anthills. These naming are very dangerous because they make our children very vulnerable.
Grasshoppers and anthills are insects that people kill to eat- the only differences between them are in taste and preference.
Though parents have kept quite and do not seem to care about such naming, I think any body who is caught using such words should be brought before court of laws to answer some charges.
I mean it is an offence- actually a bad one meant to destroy our future generation. We cannot just keep silent when things are going wrong.
Parents’ maim challenge
Parents are at crossroads and do not know how to enforce children’s rights and at the same time respect their rights.
Children’s rights are a new emerging phenomenon in most of Africa and Rwanda in particular. This does not mean that Africa abused its children before the emergence of the rights. Cases of abuses in Africa are not peculiar.
The only difference is that the rights given to children contradict African traditional ways of nurturing children.
Rwasamirera J.B. a respected village elder (Inyangamugayo) in Rwamagana and a Rwandan historian opined that, “children’s rights are not a problem but the issue is that they go against what Africans call respect.
If you beat up your child, he or she has the right to sue you. That a child has a right to say and do what he wants never existed in the African tradition.
A good child listens and works under the directives of his parents until he is old enough to cater for himself.
However, today even a baby is said to have a right to take a decision”.
This is what has put parents at crossroads- ‘modernity’ versus traditional ways. In this case, I do not blame so much the parents as taking a stand can be so cumbersome.
It is an interior war of thoughts and consciousness, where one has to fight for his own beliefs and at the same avoid jeopardising the set children’s rights.