SHIRO CHOCCO: The beautiful seed that is the African child the pride of the pearl of Africa

A new year always comes with great expectations and new adventure, January 2023 however has been one of a kind. In what seems like a lifetime ago, but is in reality only a week ago, our Whatsapp groups and Twitter feeds were inundated with the tears of a mother and the pain of a father.

Particularly, in listening to Mr. Frank Gashumba’s lament, I was reminded of one poet who described a parent’s tears as a “cloak of protection saturating offspring from the crown of their head continuously to the soles of their feet.” Indeed, under normal circumstances, the “tears of a mother flow down the lowest valley enabling her offspring to swim out of destruction to safety.”

In today’s Uganda, parents like Frank Gashumba and indeed mother’s such as that of another, unfortunately, young internet sensation going by the moniker Pretty Nicole, are shedding the tears of Monica that their “Augustine’s” – children- might meet around Holy scripture and turn around their lives.

With some of the best tenets of our African cultures being diluted by foreign influences, particularly from the global North (Western Europe, the United States) as well as from Arabia, many of today’s young people are LOST.

Gone, in many cases, is the ideal of the beautiful chocolate colored child that has early maturity, self-discipline, a strong aspiration for education, respect for traditional values, a strong early search for identity, a wholesome spirit of cooperation and dependence on one another.

The threat to an African child, on account of increasingly disjointed families, is a failure to identify their kin.

As African parents, we do not seem to be ready for the global citizens in our houses, the trend setters and the like!! We seem to have no words or ways to positively relate with these hip teenagers.

Of us the parents, is a need to identify our spheres of influence and make sure we excel in these. How do l, a Ugandan mother in Kyotera protect my child exploitation? From the dangers of reprobate cultural behavior?! A tough question.

When Pretty Nicole was taken into protective custody, two women showed up claiming to be her mother. None of them, it seems, ever bothered with getting birth certificates for Nicole.

It appears, none of them, let alone Nicole herself, are captured in our government’s official data base at National Identification Registration Authority – NIRA.

Because none of Pretty Nicole’s claimants have a record of proof of motherhood, and because Pretty Nicole herself is not registered as being Ugandan – yet, a sad tale gets worse. Even if, state authorities were to intervene, they would have a hard time

On the other hand, Ms. Gashumba, possibly on account of her father’s understanding of the importance of child registration with State entities, can afford to get herself a Passport from our Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Registration with NIRA, enabled her to then also be able to get a Drivers’ Licence. And so, she can crooze around in her BMW.

I will not pretend to understand the anguish that Nicole’s parents or indeed, that which Mr. Gashumba has had to endure over the past few days. However, I will say that their tale speaks to the need for parents to, as a start, embrace those cultures that so solidified our African cultural heritage. The village chief knew each member of his community. Today’s community is Uganda and the chief is our government.

Registration with the chief – through NIRA – must be taken seriously.

We may not be able to control the path but we can start the journey today. A child with a national identification number will have a shield of protection from predators, child traffickers, child labor and access to education, young targeting social grants at the sub county, a passport and a driving permit. We might not be able to change the times but we can easily do as much as we can with what is in our control.

The writer is a citizen of Uganda


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