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Lest we forget that our children know vividly, their rights!

Updated on February 1, 2015

Kenya's Langata primary children are dispersed by anti-riot police

From brutality to pampering

Here is the past

Many people will remember with nostalgia some events in the human history like the Soweto incident. Children were murdered in cold blood as scores were injured in an effort to thwart demonstrations by the then South Africa's apartheid government. The world came to a stand still as many people condemned the heinous acts that could only be summed in one word-criminal.

As a result of the ever expanding democratic space,people are nowadays enjoying many rights and freedoms. However, many of us are swayed to think that these rights can be limited by age, which is not really possible. Freedoms of assembly, association, expression and among others are cutting across the board without the age limitation and this makes it very possible for the children to also engage on rare activities.

Rare activities would imply to things like mass action or any other forms of demonstrations if they feel aggrieved. But the mystery here is whether they will really be cognizant of what they want.

Technology and the effect of new media

Talking about technological advancement, it easy to tie it to many and many effects. Negatives and positives. Children comprise a good number of consumers of the internet content. With pieces of information they acquire from it, whether out of curiosity or just under instruction it may be detrimental or beneficial to their minds.

We cannot therefore just tie the existence of conscious minds to the much democratized society but also to varied reading contents. Technology can be used by kids to read so many things about the past6 leading human activist like Martin Luther King Jnr, Malcom X, Nelson Mandela, Marcus Garvey and among others.
The repercussion is that parents are likely to reap big from this because this child will undoubtedly grow with the development of amazing personality. That we are witnessing young thinkers and hardliners in schools therefore is not a great surprise, children are human and they always satisfy their curiosity, learning how something is, why it is like that and by what means.

Upbringing and development

At ages of 4, 6 or 12, they are able to contrast bad and good leaders based on their external environments. Those who were born in early 90's will tell you that the 'bad' leader by then, of course a nightmare to world peace perhaps was the late Saddam Hussein. So despised was he that his name was only left for pets in African societies.

The late Muammar Gadhaffi of Libya though had mixed reception from the kids due to the fact that not every family held negative opinion about him. Currently, every child next door is named 'Obama'; not because he is a great leader but because he has great reception in the hearts of many, just like his former counterpart Bill Clinton did.

The upbringing of children, the external environment and perhaps the families they grow in have direct impacts on who they become as a people. Those who have been subjected to strict parentage will hold dearly to their values. Those who have been raised under violent parents may develop rebellious attitude and so tendency to defend their rights, often cases, rights to associate and assemble with one another.

So when they go to their learning places, it is obvious that group communication will take place and they influence each other. That is how we end up with robust activists.

Changes in Schools

Initially and in early 2000s, teachers in Kenya had the opportunity to punish children at will. Arriving in school 5 minutes later than the stipulated time would definitely warrant four strokes of cane. On this topic, much can be said. In secondary schools, it was even dire. I have friends who uprooted stumps for merely missing out on dawn preps. This was done as a deterrent to violation off school rules.

But would you believe me that child sensitization has wiped many of all these? Gone are the times that serious canings were used as punishments. Children enjoy their rights under the backdrop of a much more democratic society. Children raised in this century have utmost consciousness to their rights.

Focus on Kenyan incident

On January 19, Kenyans woke to be treated with a rare occurrence that could nearly be analogous to the Soweto incident. Soweto incident can only be an over statement because so many lives were lost. After an alleged encroachment of their playground by a private developer, Langata primary children took to the field to demonstrate and join other activists under a campaign dubbed 'Occupying playground'.

However, much to the dismay of many Kenyans, they were dispersed fiercely by the anti-riot police and this even led to the serious injury of four children. This incident has met myriad condemnation from various quarters in Kenya, with many fingers pointing at the government for failing to use proper means of arresting the situation.

The above incident is more of a living testimony that children are awake and very conscious of their rights. Looking at their banners, they had messages like 'Jubilee Government is protecting Land Grabbers' and so forth. They came with a solitary aim of standing to be heard and even with the injuries, Langata primary school children made a mark in Kenyan history for standing for their rights.

Some critics argued that they were coached and used by the activists, lest they forget that the children are conscious and they know what they are entitled to. Losing their playground to a developer who is alleged to be a senior person in government just inflicted their anger. It is because they feel that instead of the government protecting them, they are being subjected to torture because of claiming what is rightfully theirs.

With harsh police treatment, young children of these kind are likely to develop apathy towards serving in the police force due to various reasons. They will feel that the police are inhuman and not working along the law but via the instruction of a human being somewhere.

Sum it all!

It is better that the society should know that children are well aware of their rights. However much they are deemed naïve minors, they know what is wrong and right #Occupyplayground.

Langat primary children demonstrating for alleged grabbing of their playground by a private developer (Kenya)


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