CHILDREN'S DAY: Is There A Future For Us? An Open Letter by the Nigerian Child to Fathers, Mothers, Elders, Leaders By Abai Francis

27 May, 2024

Greetings to our fathers, mothers, elders, leaders... of our dear country, Nigeria, and to all others around the world. I anonymously stand in for the Nigerian child, and in reflection, for children all over the world, particularly those children that are living in countries bedridden by chronic corruption and gross indiscipline that are fueling poverty, crime, crises, violence and death, leading to children in such places becoming endangered species; and an endangered child anywhere is an endangered child everywhere.

So, I make this solemn broadcast on behalf of these fellow children and which is directed at our fathers, mothers, elders, leaders...

First, to our fathers, the head of the home. They're the husbands to our mothers. Fathers can also be categorized as biological fathers, foster fathers, god fathers, spiritual fathers, traditional fathers... As our fathers, it's their duties to provide shelter, food, clothing, and all the necessities that will make our lives comfortable, our growing up memorable, and our safety guaranteed. By their close relationship, fathers are supposed to protect us with their strength from abuses and instil confidence in us. Yes, our fathers are responsible for what we stand to gain in the future through intellectual and moral training, educationally–formal and informal.

But sadly, most of our fathers have turned from being our protectors to becoming our abusers; they've turned from being our sponsors to becoming our oppressors. There are those who've abandoned their core responsibilities as fathers. All they do is get our mothers pregnant but won't cater for our welfare. Hiding under debased cultural practices they refuse to educate the female child in our midst, choosing instead to give them away in marriage at a tender age. Some have turned violent and rapist, sexually molesting our mothers and children under their care. And many, in their pursuit for fame and fortune have abandoned our moral upbringing as they have no time to listen to our innocent questions that needs moral answers, exposing us further to bad influence.

Secondly, to our mothers. If the men are so caught up in their manly world, we don't expect our mothers to in like manner be cut-off from us. Mothers are our close confidants, they're the shell that should protect us, care for us and discipline us. They carried us in their wombs for nine months and as such are expected to have a deep connection with us. It's such disposition that has led to the creation of most wonderful songs, two of which are SWEET MOTHER and DEAR MAMA by late musicians Prince Nico Mbarga and Tupac Shakur, recorded in honour to our mothers.

But quite sadly, our mothers are losing their touch as mothers these days. The slogan of 'What A Man Can Do A Woman Can Do Better' has driven most of our mothers to compete with the men in the pursuit of fame and fortune. This has led to the root cause of most broken homes as they now abandon and leave their children without proper upbringing, subjecting them to abuse from day keepers or house helps. Some of our mothers by exhibiting certain lifestyles before their children indirectly encourage them into prostitution and inculcate in them a wrong mentality that is driven by the consciousness of get-rich-quick syndrome. They fail to realize that they're role models to children who watch what they do. Some mothers expose their children to harm and other future problems by engaging in female genital mutilation (FGM) popularly known as female circumcision, and other unhealthy practices.

Thirdly, to our elders, those who are supposed to guide us morally and spiritually in the presence and absence of our fathers and mothers. Our elders are our teachers, spiritual fathers, traditional fathers, chiefs in our communities, the aged in society... Even when our fathers and mothers are failing, these have a moral duty to act as our second parents in guiding us and also as guardians too to our parents. By their experiences and wisdom, they're expected to counsel us and to instil in us the virtues of patience, godliness, love, kindness, humility, dedication, loyalty, truthfulness, and the likes.

However, we seem to be short on elders these days. The craze for money that has made our fathers and mothers to derail has also infested and blinded most of our elders from the truth. Many elders of our time are themselves now exhibiting the traits of impatience, ungodliness, haters, wickedness, proud, uncaring, turn betrayals, liars, and such other negative traits. And yet, these are the elders that children are expected to look up to for guidance and counseling.

Finally, to our leaders, and by our leaders I'm addressing those in government that preside over the affairs of our dear nation. Such leaders, by the sensitive position they occupy are expected to create harmony among citizens, build infrastructures that will birth opportunities for jobs and wealth creation, and most especially to plan for the future so that the children of today can live better lives tomorrow. It is their duty to also protect our collective interest particularly the wealth of this country.

Tragically, our government leaders are the worst of all of our guardians. By their very acts they prove that they don't care about us. They're only focused in creating better lives for their own children but forget that their children are not the only ones in this world. By their current actions of today, they're birthing grave problems for the future, and it's we, the children of today, that will pay the tragic price tomorrow. If our fathers, mothers and elders have been negligent, that of the government is worse and lack the right words to actually describe them.

Our government has failed us, the children of this country, in uncountable ways. Everyday, the opportunity of us having a brighter future is dimmed more and more. The leaders in government have turned criminal or thieves, looting our collective wealth and investing their stolen proceeds in other advanced countries, thereby limiting opportunities back home. What stupid wisdom of theirs. Daily we hear of child abuse across the country because our government has failed to put in place proper measures through laws to guide against such acts. We even have some government officials encouraging child marriage!

How about our insecurity. Too many dastard acts are going on and only God knows how many we haven't heard of because such ones aren't reported im the media. In May 2022, in the month of the children's day celebration, a pregnant mother and four of her children were murdered. Tears are flowing down my eyes and the children of this country are crying tears of blood. We have also heard of child soldiers, children who are groomed by devils in human flesh to do barbaric things. We have also heard of child labour, children being forced to become responsible for themselves and their families at such a fragile age. We have heard also of ritual killings of children for money and other abominable acts. What is this world turning into?

Yes, May 27th has been declared by the international community to be Children's Day, a day set aside to celebrate and to honour children, who are deemed as an integral part and parcel of the society. This importance of children is stressed when it is often said that children are the future and the leaders of tomorrow. But somehow I feel that such statements have become like paper tiger, echoed for the sake of it but far from any meaning and commitment on the parts of the majority of our fathers, mothers, elders, leaders... that are making such utterance.

Without being told, children need all the attention, care, and protection they could get at their tender age since they're much vulnerable. But in reality, as exposed above, that's not the case. Here in Nigeria as well as in other similar places of the world, children have come under constant and intense abuse, oppression, and even violent attacks. Children are cared less for and their future opportunities are destroyed on a daily basis as there's no security for them; their lives don't seem fragile anymore.

Children all over are appealing to our fathers, mothers, elders and leaders, to fight for the rights of children, to ensure their future are not threatened. If children are cared for and brought up rightly there would be in the future more doctors, not killers; teachers, not rapists; scientists, not terrorists/bandits; innovators, not criminals; men and women of integrity, not Fraudsters... and above all, a more prosperous country, not one that is poor despite the availability of her resources. This is a call on all to save the children and to save the future.

God bless you.

Signed by The Nigerian Child

NB: First published May 27, 2022

#penglobaldiscourse #mypublicdiscourse #childrenday

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