Back in my primary school days, one of the Safari English text books had a picture that got etched in my little mind. There was this man sitting on a branch of a tree, but cutting it at its trunk joint. Perhaps finding it the most comfortable position from which to undertake his chore, the ultimate import of his folly was what a popular international TV series would call, “the science of the stupid.” This picture came to mind as I considered the possible causes of the destructive conduct of our young people, especially students. What exactly would cause a group of students run amok and burn down several dormitories, ostensibly because of being denied opportunity to watch a football match? These could be the sounds of a falling branch. Somebody somewhere must be cutting our social branch at the wrong place.
Over the past years, we have been chipping away at this branch with assiduous resolve. We have not only abandoned the basic fundamentals of our Africanness — its social structures and practices — but have also gone ahead to throw out key tenets of faith and religion. Instead, we have embraced strange ideologies clearly at variance with natural social order. Thus, whereas many of us were brought up under strict discipline, enforced both at home and in school, we are now training children to demand their rights. Discipline in school has been reduced to passive activities that have little impact on hardened hearts of today’s child. No wonder, when their right to watch soccer is violated, they burn down the school.
At another level, the life transforming value of religion is increasingly becoming an anathema among the progressive class of our society. Consequently, we have enacted laws to ensure that our children are not encumbered with matters religion. Preachers are being outlawed from accessing schools in favour of “life skill experts” with the hope of equipping our youth to cope with the vicissitudes of life. This is no new idea.
- 1 Nigerian army plans nationwide exercise as protests rock country
- 2 Egerton suspends 230 students over strike
- 3 Kyrgyzstan president declares state of emergency
- 4 Protesters and vigilantes scuffle in Kyrgyz capital as political crisis festers
Back in 2006, Oduor Ouma, then a sub-editor with the Nation, argued against the acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Almighty God in the preamble of the draft constitution. Quoting Bertrand Russell, Oduor argued that all religions of the world are untrue and harmful. The consequence of their teaching is that “the minds of the young are stunted and are filled with fanatical hostility.” Therefore, Oduor wanted the opening clause of the Preamble struck out. Instead, he extolled the US Constitution as a shining example of freedom “from” religion.
Interestingly, when atheist leader Madeline Murray O’Hare petitioned the US Supreme Court to outlaw prayers in schools, it led to the landmark ruling ending official Bible-reading in American public schools in 1963. The Court had also prohibited prayer in schools only a year earlier.
Sadly though, it did not take long before things began to fall apart. There were cases of kids shooting one another in school; and increased cases of suicide and drug abuse among teenagers.
Then came the September 11 attack that rocked the nation. Soon after this attack, Billy Graham’s daughter was being interviewed on national television. Her interviewer, Jane Clayson, asked her “How could God let something like this happen?” Anne Graham responded, “I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government, and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leaves us alone?”
I agree. There is no way we can be cutting the branch we are sitting on and yet not expect to fall.