Courting loses its whistling power as girls date prematurely

I invite you to read today's column very closely and be the judge.

I invite you to read today's column very closely and be the judge.

It was inspired by a colleague, the bubbly Zinhle Mapumulo.

There I was standing in the middle of the newsroom trying to attract the attention of a younger female associate - to speak to her professionally, I must hasten to say.

I used the old-fashioned, township, boy-calls-girl method: I whistled at her. Needless to say she looked up momentarily and returned to her computer.

Maybe she though I was as mad as a March hare. I forgive her because she is my friend.

But Zinhle did take notice and said: "You must be nostalgic, thinking of the days when you were younger and courting who you thought was the love of your life."

Now it takes some doing to stop Zinhle once she gets started on a topic.

She said: "Then, a girl knew what a whistle - fluit - meant and looked forward to it at a specific time of the evening, every day without fail."

She was right. Come to think of it, courtship was fun in those days. Every young woman - not under-aged girl - knew that special whistle from her suitor.

The whistler stood at a special spot and would blow his sweet melody, to his sweetheart's ears at least, who, of course, would be waiting and listening.

As soon as she had ensured that she had finished her chores, she would sneak out of the house.

Minutes later, after a few stolen kisses, hugs, more kisses and the murmuring of sweet nothings, she would be back in the house, smiling, basking in the warmth of innocent, young love.

Then a schoolgirl falling pregnant was a shame, to herself, her family and the community.

The girl would not return to school, unlike today when gymslip mothers-to-be are allowed by law to sit out their pregnancies in the classroom, and give birth there, with barely a murmur of protest from society.

I've heard of fathers lamenting that their 12-year-old little angels spent the night out at God-knows-where.

Others have passed for over-18s to be part of the revelling crowds at popular nightclubs.

Men old enough to be their fathers have been caught with children pretending to be women.

These men, the supposed custodians of traditional societal values, are even more to blame for the degeneration of today's youth.

Sometimes I get confused. I do not know who to blame, the youth who are bombarded with the trappings of modern life or their parents who appear to have abdicated their duty.

I once asked: Do parents bother to ask their children where they are going and where they spend their time when away from home?

I have heard people speak, as if proud, about not having tete-a-tete conversations with their children.

It is called bonding, but those who don't care say they don't want to interfere in their offspring's business.

Take time off and ask whether your apathy does not contribute to ills such as crime, perpetrated especially by or against the young of our country.