To Heal the World, Fix the Child

June 15, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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By

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

 

 

It is arguably indisputable that our greatest enemy today is not the heartless, corrupt government officials whose undying ambition is to fleece our country of its resources, neighbours, nor the abject poverty that results from acute mismanagement of the country’s human and material resources; rather our greatest enemy are the monsters we make out of our children. These monsters, as they come of age and are ready to strike, strangle not only the homes from where they emanate but the society as a whole.

 

Many commentators and public affairs analysts have been calling, day in, day out, for good governance and healthy democracy; but what many of them miss is that even the good governance, ideal society or healthy democracy we are dead craving for can only arrive and establish itself when we collectively decide to rehabilitate or reform those monsters of our own making. Unless we take up responsibilities and sanitize our homes, our societies will never be free from the numerous socio-economic and political challenges confronting us without cessation. ‘We can only create change in the world if we start with our individual healing,’ argued Vienda Maria.

 

For example, despite the danger of reconciling fiction with reality, such moral policing has been practiced in Black Panther (a movie that tries painstakingly, although in vein, to trace African culture from its roots). Seemingly in defiance of its technological advancement and responsible leadership, Wakanda cannot bounce back to utopian-like state without being disposed of killmonger, an enemy from within, who is the monster and Wakanda‘s number one enemy of its own making. This is a fiction perhaps, but still it is a realists’ making and realists draw their analogies from real life, perhaps our societies.

 

I suspect that we are suffering beyond measure and our societies are disintegrating partly because we refuse to take up responsibilities. We lack good sense of judgment. We so much believe in the legality of bringing children into this world, but we lack the sense of responsibility that welcomes their arrival.

 

Two factors responsible for the creation of these avoidable, hideous monsters are (i). the regular bases at which husbands run away from their wives under the pretext of searching for greener posture. Now mothers have to bear the brunt of doing their traditional role of running their homes, being good housewives and even giving some support to extended family members; and at the same time contribute, if not taking up the whole responsibility, to the family income, which, so to say, is an impossible task considering the stress involved and adverse effects of bearing these responsibilities and pressures; (ii). the high rate of divorce and the rise of the culture of single parenthood which this abomination brings about. This is because, perhaps, our African traditional societies characterized by familiarity and cohesion have been replaced with individualism supposedly brought about by modernization which is best characterized by stark societal fragmentation; you here; I there.

 

‘It is not enough to sow the seed of human life in quick, repeated sessions of reckless ecstasy’, wrote Kofi Anyidoho in his introduction to Amma Darko’s ‘Faceless’. Beyond the desires and love for children, the future of our children lies in our readiness to take up the responsibility of adequately feeding, sheltering, educating them and our willingness to monitor them; and give them a proper upbringing by inculcating moral values in them so as to become an asset rather than a liability to themselves, their families or society in general. But when you ask parents who have engaged in such an abdication of responsibility to reconsider this flagrant, their alibi is the proverbial expression ‘You give birth, God will take care of the child’. Depending on this they send them to the street, which in turn prematurely accelerates the child’s growth to adulthood with a stunted physical and mental capacity.

 

Recently a friend and classroom teacher related to me a story of one of his neighbours who has three wives and twenty-plus children. He is of a low social standing, does not have a reliable source of income and still brags about the number of wives and children. There are thousands of his like outside there, who do not know what parenting means in the real sense of the word.

 

A child in such a household is both a child and an adult; he/she acts in both ways and he/she cuts his, mostly, first teeth on the street and starts to cater for himself or herself at a very tender age. There is no doubt that gangsters; pick-pockets, armed robbers, thugs and cultists easily recruit them. And at last they turn against the society that has contributed to their making.

 

However, a section of society which is either well off or has no direct connection with adverse effects of this ‘irresponsibility’ think, mistakenly, that they are totally safe. But the truth is that the consequences of allowing the street to swallow those children affects the entire society. You or I cannot escape the attendant negative consequences; and in the final analysis we have to share the same environment with them.

 

The danger is that many successful people believe they are self-made; they do not have to feel, in any way, for others in their wallets. The man who believes in nothing but himself is heading towards his tragic waterloo. The only possible cure to this are concerted efforts by each and every one of us to replace that insular world represented by the letter ‘I’ with the more altruistic pronoun ‘we’ for our collective survival.

 

A man asked Dr. Menninger, wrote John Mason on his Why Ask Why, what should be his advice to a person suffering from a ‘nervous breakdown’. Many expected him to refer the person to a psychiatrist; to their sheer bewilderment he said, ‘Lock up your house, go across railroad tracks, find someone in need and do something to help that person’. How many of us bother to offer community service to our societies despite the huge fortune we have made in the same societies?

 

It is common practice that in many houses, children fend for themselves. Tell me whom will they respect afterwards? They will have no respect for human life anyway; which is why most of the paths chosen by those children are blood-stained.

 

Ignorance of the duties of parents contributes to this social menace. Many parents do not know exactly what their duties are. Parents must provide for material, educational and spiritual needs of their children. They should clothe, feed and shelter them according to their ability. They should provide for their children’s educational needs. They should, as the first institution a child comes in contact with, teach him/her social values that will mould him/her into a well informed and socially acceptable member of the society. Unfortunately even parents themselves, in most cases, are not morally-sound nor are they in the know of the positive values that can contribute to societal development, which is squarely dependant on the positive attitude of society.

 

The other day I heard politicians in Nigeria, who are also looking for the slightest chance to enrich themselves and some youth who are not even actively contributing to our political decision at all, celebrating the ‘Not Too Young to Run Bill‘. I mourned the president’s decision to sign it, not because the youths deserve less or I award them low marks, but for our nation’s youth psyche is nothing to write home about. Some might have done it in good faith; but the majority has but wishful thinking of being rich overnight. They are obsessed with trivial rather than serious issues.

 

Ultimately, all hands must be on deck to address this social menace that threatens our existence as a people. Parents, religious leaders, communities, NGOs and the appropriate authorities should do their parts to educate parents and rehabilitate the afflicted, so as to bring back society on the right course.

 

 

 

 

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid

Abdulyassar Abdulhamid, Kano based, is graduate of B.A English from Bayero University, Kano. He is a budding writer, social analyst, freelancer at Sunrise Language Practitioner (SLP) and regular contributor to Nigerian dailies. 
His writings have appeared in The Communicator, a magazine published by Kano State Polytechnic and in Dailytrust, The Triumph and The cable newspapers. He has a strong interest in literary theory.

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