Posts Tagged children

The leaders of the future without hope for it

Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice.
– Jerry Brown

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Growing up in a small village in the western part of Kenya, I thought I knew struggle. The first school I attended in the late 80s was very rudimentary in terms of infrastructure, and the colonies of jiggers flourishing in the earth floors in the classrooms didn’t lack for food, this is because most pupils went barefoot as cheap plastic Sandak shoes were out of reach for all but a few. To keep the gnats at bay required applying cowdung on floors by hand every Friday (a disgusting task that was not optional), even worse if your family had no cows, or they didn’t do the needful, then you’d have to go to a neighbour’s compound, container in hand, and request a serving of animal waste. Fumigation or other means of pest control was unheard of and most likely unaffordable anyway.

I cannot really say I knew hunger, three meals a day were a given. In deed my biggest worry in those days was getting a shilling to go with to school every day (wrapped in a handkerchief pinned to my chest). Back then a single bob could buy ten vitumbwas or sugarcane almost a metre long come break time, plus there was the free nyayo milk that assuaged the pain of having to cram the dictatorial propaganda that was Nyayo Philosophy.

Fast forward to 2016, thirty years later, and passing through Mandera I behold scenes of kids eager to learn having to make do with: tattered clothing, lessons in swirling dust under thorn trees, a semi-illiterate teacher, no furniture whatsoever, scorching heat. And all these when their diet consists of a cup of black sugar-free tea in the morning that will keep them running till they’ll have some porridge for dinner, plain drinking water is in fact a luxury. I now realize I had it really good growing up actually, my childhood was a walk in the park in comparison. The discomfort of a bloodsucking jigger is tame compared to an empty rumbling belly in dusty forty degree heat; blistering sandak shoes are far more comfortable compared to tiny bare feet on blazing sand in landscapes teeming with scorpions, snakes, and thorns as tough as nails.

These kids don’t need laptops, they need a roof over their makeshift class. They don’t need roadshows, they need school feeding programs, they don’t need non-existent stadia, or fables about sovereign bonds, or yarns about togetherness and unity. It’s water they lack, clothes they don’t have, food they could do with, some shelter that would do them good. These kids just want a qualified teacher. The basics of starting out in education and life.

We need our leaders, if we can call them that, to understand this: we can’t keep our children in such conditions and then boast of percentages in growth while nibbling on croissants and sipping iced tea in air conditioned hotels in cities.

It is the children forgotten in such conditions, without hope and without a future, that we will tomorrow claim to not understand their choice (or lack of choice) in embracing radical strains of politics, extreme religious ideologies, and conversion to mercenaries for hire with little respect for the sanctity of life and human dignity, a dignity they’re denied now.

Wake up. The children are the future. Take care of them today and invest in future stability.

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Do you really have a good reason for having all these babies?

A baby first laughs at the age of four weeks. By that time his eyes focus well enough to see you clearly.

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Bundles of joy, huh....

Today I intend to broach a subject that will probably have friends and foes picketing outside my humble abode armed with pitchforks.

Today I address the matter of children; to have or not to have them.

Now I will be the first to confess that, being someone with close to three decades of existence on this planet, there seems to be an inherent tendency to sow oats and propagate our genetic lineages, that is by itself a very rational, albeit selfish, need; for it ensures the survival of the human race. However this are hardly the days when any amorous virile male would just creep on a wench, bent over a stream fetching water, and role play Dr. Kitch, the unqualified physician with his terrible needle, fully content that the village would raise whatever came off the hanky panky.

This are days in which we face peril left, right and centre. If terrorists won’t blow us to smithereens, the inevitable frying from global warming will probably make us view Noah’s flood in better light (gives a whole new literal twist to having a bun in the oven), if natural disasters do not spell our end, the growling of our empty tummies might be the last sound the emaciated starving tummies will hear as a planetary hunger epidemic fills its quota in the service of the grim reaper.

The long and short of my gloomy outlook is that life as we know it is a burden, a burden we should think long and hard before inflicting on another person.

I cannot simply dismiss the pros for having children, after all one of the best reasons I can think of is ironically the fact I am here to write this, however that fact is also one the reasons I question what motivates everyone to blindly leap into the world of parenthood.

I have done some casual research (thank God for google) and tried to find reasons people have for having children, suffice is to say most of them are flimsy to outright ridiculous, but then to each his own. Reasons listed for having children include:

  • To improve a relationship between spouses
  • Keep up with friends and relatives in a breeding race
  • To create a family
  • To take on a new challenge
  • To seize the moment
  • Because you love kids
  • To spread joy
  • To accept destiny
  • Religion orders so

If I were to exhaustively pick apart each of the reasons above we would be here all day, I will simply try to address the points in one-liners.

  1. Children can improve relationships between spouses but not in the way they imagine, if a relationship was bad to begin with introducing a third party who becomes  a constant reminder of the bile between couples is, to put it mildly, an asinine move. At best a pretense at an improved relationship will ensue, at worst an ultimate breakdown will leave a bitter abandoned child in its wake, one who will probably carry on the cycle in the future.
  2. If you believe that you should have a fifth child because your sister has had one then I really do not even know where to begin, doing an IQ test would be a good thing too.
  3. Creating a family is a noble thing, however most of us cannot even run our own lives, so how do we decide that we can run other people’s lives? The hogwash that by bringing up a hapless soul into the confused maze we dwell in will straighten our lives is horseshit, a child should not be an experiment in whether we will ever change or not.
  4. To take on a new challenge is no good reason either, most of us view the challenge of taking care of a pet such as a dog as something insurmountable, yet we somehow think a human being will be easier to deal with. If you need a new challenge, try mountain climbing.
  5. Seizing a moment is another way of saying on a whim, the only thing one should ever do on the spur of the moment is something reversible or that can be dismissed as yet another lesson, a child isn’t such a thing.
  6. If you love kids, and most of us do, it’s still not a good enough reason, a lot of people love manicured lawns until they realize the trouble it takes to keep them looking so. Loving an elephant is no reason to buy one.
  7. To spread joy is simply a cliché that I will not bother to break down.
  8. To accept destiny is a vague reason that can be used to evade just about every irrational act we engage in.
  9. Go forth and fill and fill the planet and children are a gift from God are both reasons given by the sheeple for incessant breeding, however it never seems to dawn on parents who are sold on religious zealotry that holy books are not edible, a brood of children will not be fed on prayer alone. With 300,000 children being lost to hunger annually, we seriously need to think through the reasons to having children besides a call to fill the earth (which is already full by reasonable estimates)

I cannot simply disabuse parents or potential parents of the notion that there are many valid reasons to having kids without listing some reason why some of us take a different  view. Reasons one can choose not to have children include:

  • You can pass of hereditary conditions such as diabetes, polydactylism, senility or even stupidity and ugliness
  • Character traits and tendencies towards such things as drug and alcohol addiction, compulsive obsessive behavior and psychosis can be passed onto children.
  • Cost: Every parent wants to give their children a better life than they had, if you’re unable to do so then why subject a child to a menial existence and the drudgery of life at the bottom of the barrel.
  • Religion: many of us profess the religion of our parents, most of us are too afraid to have an honest look at other faiths and are hence held captive by fear and indoctrination. Why subject another person to such turmoil when you have no answers yourself to the questions of life?
  • Lastly I will get back to the  beginning of the post, in the past it literally took a village to raise a child, unfortunately that is not the case anymore, with hundreds of homeless children and street kids teeming in every alley, what right do we have to add to the count on the planet if we don’t have the heart to take care of those already here?

With that said, I will probably have some kids myself as I have no illusions that my thinking will sway my mother or wife for that matter. Men, it seems, have little say on whether they want children or not.

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