He considers restoring effective fatherhood – via training and support – as being central to strengthening the nation’s strained social fabric. Schools, he believes, are the most central entities within communities. This understanding has led him consider a school’s function as a place of encouragement, support and equipment of fathers, spawning an initiative that is gaining traction with many families (see: www.engageschools.org ).
As may be expected, mothers are dying to be part of the conversation; faced with the reality that they are not welcome, they are pushing their husbands to go with the sons, and engage on everyone else’s behalf.
In historically black and colored schools, others are reaching out with similar, localized efforts. How many of us go through Kenyan schools tapping into such initiatives is anyone’s guess, but it really cannot for long be a preserve of just a few, or the best equipped. It cannot also for long be the thankless task of the few dedicated state and non-state actors in our slums, and far-flung villages.
Our fathers, too, must recognize that fatherhood goes beyond mere conception; our mothers cannot for long remain our beasts of burden, without consequence. Our teachers, hopefully, will come around to the thinking that the task cannot be outsourced to that visiting speaker, or motivational group.
Critically, the State ought not to be allowed to – in any way – walk away from what that famous Galilean, Jesus, once referred to as “the least of these.” Once too often we’ve allowed it to walk away, because of “insufficient funds,” while there’s much to spare for black holes in the budget.
Our children’s plight is, quite narrowly, often reduced to case studies in sex tourism at our coastal cities, but so much more also remains untold from Naivasha, Nakuru and our other villages and towns.
The writer is a media consultant, based in Cape Town, South Africa.
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