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when children were kept OUT OF harm's way

By unknown | Nov 24, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WHEN the world was a little younger lullabies were known to rock newborns to sleep. When wide awake, a mother's stable lap was solid but tempered with a watchful caress.

WHEN the world was a little younger lullabies were known to rock newborns to sleep. When wide awake, a mother's stable lap was solid but tempered with a watchful caress.

Being on a mother's back was sealed with an assuring clenching strap. Every adult, known or not, was as trusted with any child's well-being as the water we drank from the tap.

A mother's breast was always on standby to feed the little one's hunger or to quench its tiny thirst. Homes were havens for toddlers. The streets were safe and punctuated by the cheerful sounds of children playing. Children were free to be children.

In those younger years, children were not only born to their biological fathers and mothers as aunts and uncles; grandmothers and grandfathers; and relatives, from far and near, did not need to be terrorised with sermons of high temperatures that burn in hell in order to be shocked into exercising elderly responsibility. The neighbourhood extended as much care to any child as though they were their own flesh and blood.

The streets might have been dusty and untarred but sprightly dressed nurses, with portable brown suitcases and matching shiny shoes, never failed to pay home visits to extend care to newborn babies and their mothers.

Doctors paid house calls with no bellicose thug finding reason to rob them in the name of escaping poverty. Ambulances did not have the rude habit of arriving later than tow-trucks in emergencies.

Schools started on time and finished at a reasonable hour for the safe return of learners. Teachers were generally trusted with students in their care.

Despite being ill-equipped, sporting activities at black schools produced ace athletes, moving choral music and bewildering soccer stars that made each game of soccer a memorable encounter.

Lighting candles at night had nothing to do with romance. They brought basic light top homes never intended to have electricity.

It is an absolute miracle how that hard-working generation came to survive the deliberate poison of Bantu Education under candlelight. Daybreak was characterised by the masses waking up to work and happily returning to durable but hated "matchboxes" called homes. But compared to RDP houses, "matchboxes" still stand their ground to date.

The pre-1994 era was far from paradise. Life was a living hell. But despite all this, black communities still had the soul to keep children out of harm's way. They still had a heart to extol the unshakeable dignity of women. There was an enduring work ethic to make ends meet. And above all, there was national sense of conviction that life will not cease to be dangerous without distinct purpose to make it safer.

Now that the world is older and wiser, peace ought to be winning the day against war. But its drums keep beating on without end in some of its troubled parts. At a time when our 15 years of democracy should be remembered as the dawn of a new era, unscrupulous politicians keep muddying our politics to be as suspect as water from neglected dams.

The babies once hushed by lullabies are now familiar with the screams of mothers or fathers losing life or limb at the hands of people considered to be their kith and kin.

The communities that should be trusted with the safety of children have become desensitised and no longer outraged by the brutality unleashed upon the innocent. And when teachers take advantage of learners placed in their care, assured of receiving abiding defence from trade unions, how can the assault on innocence be put to an end?


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