Need to rescue children from streets
By Elvis Ng`andwe
Street children in urban-based areas can leave one with touching feelings.
I felt bad while passing along different streets of Arusha recently, as I noticed children wandering aimlessly, begging money from passers-by, especially tourists.
Having observed the situation I asked myself the following question. ’Whose responsibility is this, and how can we limit the number of children coming to the streets everyday?
I am optimistic that such children rarely enjoy the privileges stipulated and declared by the universal declaration of human rights.
Such rights are also reflected in the different constitutions of different countries.
I ask myself. Do these children have the same rights as other children in our different homes?
By the way, where do these kids come from? Don’t they have families and relatives?
Same ideas takes me back to early 1980s when I was a little kid, where it was very rare to children walking along urban centres aimlessly.
Now it has become a normal phenomenon to meet street kids all over the Sub-Saharan Africa.
Though the State has a duty to make sure that the human rights together with the children’s rights inclusive are well upheld, the community at large ought to discourage children from seeking life along the streets.
Whenever we speak of children’s rights, we also speak of duties that parents have to help in making them grow under the support from their parents, relatives and of course, government.
Some States have run away from their basic responsibility to care for the citizens, by simply privatizing the duties of the state.
Though Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been established to address the problem of the street children, it is sad to say that some of them have remained to be inefficient.
They have forgotten their primary obligation to the society, and use the NGO’S as an umbrella of accumulating wealth.
One may argue that everyone has a right to have children as he/she wishes, all should remember that parents have a duty to make sure that their children are well taken care of.
Very few children know their rights, and those who know are not couragious enggouh to take thier parentsto court on account of failing to fufill thier parental responsibilities.
Basing on the African traditions and cultures, the extended family has a lot of meaning, and most people encourage it.
African Philosophers like Julius Nyerere says that Africa is one.
His reflects the understanding of the values of the extended family in the African culture.
Having reflected on the philosophy behind the extended families in the traditional Africa, it is un-compromising to find such an alarming increase of street childrenin the sub-Saharan Africa.
It is absurd because if we really base on the values of the extended family in an African context, the children in our streets have relatives, therefore, they shouldn’t be where they are.
Nyerere’s philosophy on Freedom and Unity argues that in the traditional African societies no one was left out of, everyone was considered and cared for.
Exclusions such as leading to call someone a street kid were un-heard of.
The bonds of extended family were so strong that they went beyond clans and tribes up to nationalism and Africanism.
What Nyerere advocates for, is no longer a reality because there are more street children in the Sub-Saharan African than in any other party of the world. The rate is on the increase every other day.
It would be argued that values behind the extended families in the traditional African society have contributed a great deal to the increasing problem of street kids.
In the traditional African society, everyone was cared for; and therefore, children would not have sought refuge along the streets, since parents could not allow that.
Extended family values have not just declined out of blues, but there are other factors, which have led to their downfall in African societies.
In another way, the adoption of some cultural aspect from western world has made some people in Africa to forget some of their unique cultural aspects.
For instance the notion of nuclear family has traumatized many people, to the extent of forgetting that a son or a daughter of one’s brother or sister is in fact yours.
There is a need to be conscious and go back to our unique forgotten meaning of African traditional families, since many people rarely get good pay, thus the family finds itself in various socio-economic problems.
That is why I do not agree with people who argue that it is because Africa is poor that we have a lot of street kids in the Sub-Saharan Africa, that reason can be true but it is a drop in the sea.
Africa is regarded to be poor as a continent but it has a good number of individuals who are very rich. Just look at the African leaders.
It is a pity that Africa is being taken away by the globalization trend, so much so that philosophers of this continent have quickly be forgotten.
For instance, how many institutes in Africa are offering studies on the philosophies of African heroes such as Mandela, Nyerere, Nkrumah, Kenyatta, just to mention a few:?
The philosophies of these people may have weaknesses here and there, but we can still learn a lot from them, especially when addressing the problem of street children in the Sub-Saharan Africa.
The problem of street children should be dealt with accordingly, principally to restore the image of human being. When a child is mistreated along the streets, his/her rights are automatically tempered with.