Investing in the Next Generation: Lessons we can learn from Lionesses

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Marguerite Barankitse, Source: AfricanSuccess

Ever watched a documentary on a pride of lions and awed at the manner in which the lionesses take turns to cub-sit their young ones?

As a few of the lions crawl away into the vast grassland in hunt for prey, the older of the female remain behind to keep the younger cats busy.

I am taken aback at the orchestrated ‘biggest cat’ parental strategies which seems to supersede those of humans.

What prompts me to say this?

The comeback.

Of what?

Of the ‘Elections Fever’. It has come around again.

Mmmh. The fever boiling higher than last time.

I am talking about the re-elections that the people of Kenya anxiously await.

If you don’t believe me, then take a look at this.

Over the recent August holidays (which is summer time in other parts of the world), unlike many other times before, I practically did little or no travelling as I found myself walled within my compound.

It was both my choice and not my choice.

Want to know the reason why?

Well, first, we had elections and that meant minimal movement, especially if you valued your safety at such a time.

It also meant that I got to stick around my “home-zone” wherever I consider that to be. Basically, it translated to ‘stick around and about family.’

So, I did not have a choice pertaining to movement.

But…

I did have the choice of how far I could get to move around my “home-zone”- the nearest market, mall, salon…

I spent a large part of it indoors and close to any media gadget that was loud on the direction the elections were veering towards.

I got so engrossed in the hourly updates that streamed in that I barely gave attention to my kids preoccupation at the time. They were on holiday and as expected, looked forward to quality family time as well as fun activities, this being the most appropriate time of year for a family-alone-bonding time as the December holidays were usually festive and involved other relatives.

So…

One mid- morning however, after the first election cloud had lifted off, I realized that my 11-year old son and his sister who is in her early teens, had been dragging along as I engaged in my election-festered heated banter exchanges with my neighbours, whilst struggling so hard not to get bored amidst the aura of it all.

Elections in the sitting room.

The bedroom.

Kitchen, bathroom, at the doorsteps… the nearest shop ….everywhere!

However, Nate had managed to somehow seclude himself and had succumbed to some sort of art, to get rid of boredom. He likes drawing.

This time around, I perplexedly noted that he hadn’t drawn the Ben 10 caricatures, neither had he drawn the speedy Ferrari-like motor sketches.

In their stead, he had succeeded to sketch down a better *‘Congo wear’ market (spelt as he pronounced it)!

Ha ha ha!

Very Funny.

But hey! Wait a minute.

Looking at the sketches, the boy had actually come up with some interesting – I must admit – plan of the Kongowea market.

In it, he had endeavoured to re-organize the major market in Mvita (Mombasa) into what he called a more ‘planned’ manner- meaning a better organized way.

Three weeks down the line….

Muzammil, one of my students, baffled me this a week later when he echoed his view on, the current parenting.

He feels the fathers and mothers have abandoned him and his siblings in this country, whilst busy in politicking or pursuing career and economic developments, not to forget parading social hierarchies that have become obsessions in the adult world.

Muzammil is a level 6 student and is quite passionate about youth being offered opportunities to initiate self- awareness projects and get involved in the implementation of teaching and learning strategies systems regionally.

His observation is that today’s youth are left on their own for most of the hours in a day…week… eventually year, as every adult in society clambers for what is self-satisfactory irrespective of the parental obligations.

As if this isn’t enough, the young man further notes that while in school the youngsters whose ability in most subjects is below average are made to feel ‘stupid’ both at school and home.

Society always pries on the paper mark rather than personal gifts.

My strong recommendation is one of not-just-hearing these young ones of Africa out, but listening to them keenly.

It’s time we gave them the attention, support and guidance they need in their contributions towards Africa’s progressive polices; be they in education, leadership, entrepreneurship, science and technology, exploration and exhibition of the potential that is Africa as Mmusi Maimane advocates or  Nkosana Mafico for that matter, not forgetting Mallence Bart-Williams’ inspirational call for the tapping of the youth talents and Africa’s resources by provision of opportunities to our growing youngsters.

This brings me back to my repertoire – the Nate preoccupation in his Kongowea Project- a way to escape from what he is unable to fathom nor contribute towards.

For this forthcoming rerun of Kenyan elections, I could give him the attention he deserves.

I will be re-directing my otherwise over-spent energies on one developmental aspect to investing in the making of a future leader who will not require a second chance to prove he deserves leadership roles, because I…or rather we- society and I, attended to his abilities at a tender age!

You do agree with me that we shall spend our retirement days in bliss; no grumbling…no scrambling…when the elections take place then.

Won’t it be wonderful?

Isn’t it achievable?

Just as our Muzammil notes,

“with proper tender guidance…the gifted would surprise us with hidden abilities endowed within them. You just never know….!”

Nate did surprise me. And yes, Muzammil is right.  Youth need a platform to exhibit their hidden talents.

 

Sheila Munguti is a writer and teacher. She hails from Kenya and is passionate about changing the negative misconceptions of the African continent as well as re-telling the African story from her own eyes. She lives in Mombasa. 

© 2017, Contributing Writer. All rights reserved.

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