Child Not Bride Intervention: What is Next? 8 Burning Issues to Urgently Consider

Very soon the ‘celebration’ or ‘jamboree’ of protests or the battles with the senate over the issue of Child Marriage will be ended. We have seen the ‘celebration’ of media campaign, signature gathering, print and electronic media advocacy, press conferences, curses on the senators, unprintable name calling and all.

Going by the character of this kind of ‘interventions’ which I’m very conversant with, the ‘celebration’ of protests will soon be ended. When it is ended, I am afraid that the girl child in Nigeria may not have too much dividends to show for the noble efforts of the ‘interventionists,’ whose interests I am very sure are diverse in nature. Among the ‘interventionists,’ some guys would have become more popular, some would have earned more credits to their social visibility accounts, which may ultimately have direct impact on their personal economy and some would have made a very good effort at renewing their faded socio-economic and political relevance. You see one intervention, diverse kinds of interests.

In 2010, the news broke that Senator Yerima married a 13-year-old girl, who was said to be the daughter of his driver. The senator conducted the wedding in Abuja, where the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 should be in force. This kind of ‘celebration’ greeted the news. It we would break world record as a people and cause the heavens to fall flat in the Senator. In the midst of the celebration, the senator had series of invitations and meetings with NAPTIP, considering the child he allegedly married was an Egyptian. All said and done, NAPTIP gave the Senator a clean bill of health. He was told there were no ingredients of trafficking in his dealing with the 13 year old girl. Now, if there were not ingredients of trafficking, what about the fact that the wedding was conducted in Abuja and the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 in its Sections 21 and 22 criminalize Child Marriage? I thought that should be a good ground to ensure that the Senator was brought face to face with the full wrath of the law. No, it was not so! The ‘celebration’ simply quieted into thin air.

Despite the ‘celebration’ of protests and in the midst of same, he proceeded to conjugal bliss with his bride of 13 years old. That was the end of that scene in the drama called #ChildNotBride. In protest, as I said in my previous piece, ‘since the Yerima saga in 2010, I have kept as the background of my twitter page the picture of Yerima and his 13 year-old Egyptian bride, with this inscription, ‘It should not hurt to be a child.’ As far as I am concerned, justice has not been served in the matter. Keeping the picture on my twitter page is my little way of keeping the issue alive in my mind and others, who are still interested in seeing that justice is done in the matter.’

The ‘celebration’ of protests did not have the character to resurrect itself again after the Senator had gone home with his child bride unhurt, until same Senator Yerima decided to come by way of social incantation to revive the spirit of the ‘celebration’ again. Take it or leave it, Senator Yerima has carved a niche for himself in history. He will be remembered as that Senator, who has succeeded in calling and hosting two ‘celebrations’ of protests against a social vice like Child Marriage. He will be remembered as the centre figure and stirring rod of the ‘celebrations’ of protest against child marriage in Nigeria. My only fear is that I suspect that he might have learnt one or two lessons from the first ‘celebration’ that he can predict with oracular precision that ‘though times never last but tough people like the Senator, who understands the psyche of the ‘interventionists’ do last.’

He must have also learnt that as long as the focus is on his person and not the philosophy he represents, he is nothing but a sacrificial lamb for the philosophy. As far as he is concerned that is good for the philosophy as he has successfully shielded the philosophy by his person and for whatever cause a man is ready to put himself on the line such will go very far.  The true challenge is that whether among the interventionist, there is a man or woman, who has a ‘different spirit’ like the Senator, ready to put their lives on the line.

As I said in my previous piece on this issue, ‘as far as I am concerned, one incontrovertible gain of the recent constitutional amendment as it relates to Section 29(4)(b) is that it gives stakeholders another golden opportunity to reopen the issue of child protection in Nigeria as it relates particularly to child marriage and the northern parts of Nigeria…’ I further submitted that ‘this golden opportunity, I am here to warn is not an end in itself. It is only a means to an end and it can only be a means to an end if we put the issues in the right perspective. What is the end? For me, the end is creating a nation fit for children, built through enlightenment and sustained through child protection social policing.’ I concluded that ‘It is not a one-off agenda. It is a lifetime agenda and that is the commitment some of us have made close to two decades ago.’

To help take full advantage of this golden opportunity, as I postulated above, there are eight issues, I believe the interventionists must be looking at now:

1. If they get the Senate to remove the controversial and ‘cantankerous’ Section 26(4)(b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, does that mean the Constitution has been so amended?

2. Have they considered that the final power on constitutional amendment does not end with the senate and the ‘celebrations’ of protests may need to extend to the House of Representatives and the Houses of Assembly of the 36 States?

3. If finally the constitution is amended and we see to the death and burial of Section 26(4)(b) of the constitution, does that mean we have seen the end of Child Marriage in Nigeria?

4. If the answer to the last question is no, what system have they put in place for continuity, which identifies the goal or set of goals, interdependence of forces and balance of execution. It has been found through research by experts that basing intervention on child protection issues has failed our children all over the world. Thus every meaningful individual and organization, who are interested in Child Protection think in terms of a Child Protection Systems(CPS), which recognizes every stakeholder, including the children, enlighten them, empower them and organize them towards a sustainable intervention towards respect for the rights of children, as provided by legal instruments, policies, customs and traditions. System Approach to Child Protection will look at the root causes of the problem, in this case Child Marriage and find the solutions, which are peculiar to the people.

5. Is there any plan to proceed to the Northern part of the country to deal a lethal but sure and gradual blow on Senator Yerima’s philosophy, with a view to making it unpopular among the people? Or do we not know that such deliverance from the bondage of deadly social indoctrinations like Child Marriage does not answer to urban agitation like we have seen in the last 2 weeks.

6. If they are thinking in the direction of paragraph 5 above, what are the exiting legal tools available to protect the child in Nigeria today, upon which enlightenment can be built? Would it not make a lot of sense to agitate for the domestication of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 in the northern states, where it is not yet promulgated, considering the fact that such promises the girl child more protection and that there a large chunk of green light that the agitation may fruits, considering the fact that some northern states have domesticated the Act?

7. Noting that ending child marriage is not an intervention, which began in Nigeria with the debate on Section 26(4)(b) of the Constitution, considering the fact the first ever Day of the Girl Child, celebrated on October 11, 2012 was marked with the theme: ‘ending child marriage,’ what efforts are the interventionists making to learn from other jurisdictions, where the battle against Child Marriage is being fought with tangible progress being recorded?

8. By way of vital addendum, since we are interested in matters that has to do with our children, shouldn’t we be interested in the fact the public school system is not safe for our children, particularly those in the Northern part of Nigeria? According to UNICEF between June 16, 2013 and today, 46 pupils and seven teachers have been killed in Northern schools in Nigeria. Should this unsafe state of Northern school generate national debates for two reasons: i. the right of the child to life, boy and girl is fundamental to any other rights he/she will ever enjoy; ii. the unsafe state of northern schools has deplorable impact on school attendance in region where school attendance has been a serious matter of concern? Should we not be interested in holding government accountable on the steps being taken to ensure safety in the northern schools and measure put in place to help the families of victims(pupils and teachers alike) the of past dastardly killings in northern schools in dealing with the impact of same?

I think until we are ready to address the foregoing issues, we may be in for another ‘celebration’ or ‘jamboree’ of protests, which generate much heat, yet no movement and hold sure promises for the ‘interventionists’ and none tangible for the object of the ‘celebration,’ the Nigerian Child.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 7 Audio Books and 3 E-books are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.

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Commandment 12 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Beating, Not Part of Non-Verbal Communication

Hello dear friends and care givers. I am glad you are doing well today. I am here with the spirit of advocacy, motivated by a commitment to bring to the very front burner of the conscience and consciousness of the private and public institutions, the rights and responsibilities of the African child for due respect in the best interest of the child. I fired up by a commitment to create a world fit for children. As you read this piece today please understand that you are reading from a man’s burden and that he fervently desires you to share the burden. How do you share the burden? Simple, make it a point of duty to create a world fit for children in your areas of influence, first your home and all other areas, where you have one form of influence or the other.

Permit me today to share with you Commandment 12 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Beating, Not Part of Non-Verbal Communication:

We live in a world, where we in most cases define our action or omission by our frustration. Such definitions, which have no bearing with universal principles, knowledge, skill and wisdom, are even often defended with zealous commitment.

Unfortunately, such definitions, which do not have any premise in wisdom has been passed from generation to generation. In most cases, such definitions have become unwritten, yet potent tradition.

One of such definitions, which has become a practice among the low and the mighty is that one of the ways to communicate with the child non-verbally is by hitting the child. Many people today believe that we must hit the child. When you ask them to give reasons for their position, they have none but tradition and personal experiences. These are uninterrupted and unfounded premises fuelled by only two deadly factors: frustration and ignorance; needless to say that frustration in most cases is an active function of ignorance.

In dealing with caregivers over the years, I have identified four levels of ignorance. The first level of ignorance is not a major problem but the caregivers’ lack of understanding of it sets him up and he is not able to relate to the three other levels. Here are the four levels. The first is that we do not know everything. That is not on the face of it a problem since it is only God, who is all-knowing. But it becomes a problem when you are not conscious of the fact that you do not know everything. The real problem is that it reduces your receptiveness and responsiveness to new knowledge and retards or stagnate the development of your mind and by extension, your personal development. The second level of ignorance is that many so-called caregivers do not know what they should know. The third level of ignorance is that many caregivers do not know what they should know and they do not know that they do not know what they should know. The fourth level of ignorance is that many caregivers do not know what they should know, they do not know that they do not know what they should know and they now think they know what they should know.

The latter is the most lethal of all. It is the throne of pride. Expect by divine intervention, it is not possible to help such people. Or how do you help someone, who does not believe he has a problem or who even believe that you are the one, who has a problem?

I wonder why the society, which has not sponsored a study on the impact of hitting children on the psyche of the child, is bent on recommending it. Permit me to give us an assignment as I round up this discussion today. I will like us to first of all ask a series of questions, which I will attempt to answer: what is the purpose of hitting a child in trying to communication with the child? I guess the reason should be to discipline the child. The next question is what is the purpose of discipline? I think discipline is to bring out the best in the child by teaching him to develop respect for his dignity of human person. The foregoing does not begin with rules. It begins with the examples that the caregiver is able to show. Now, how many of us caregiver understand discipline this way? I guess very few of us. If it is very few of us, could we then say many of us do not understand the purpose of discipline and therefore do not do it with an informed motive? I think so. If we do not do it with informed motive, does that not cast dark shadow on the method we seek to employ? If the foregoing cast dark shadow on the method we employ, should we not dedicate more time to studying the purpose of discipline with a view to attaining an informed motive? I think so. As far as I am concerned the motive of discipline is superior to the method. If we can get the motive right, we will always get the method right.

In view of the foregoing, I therefore submit that hitting a child is not part of non-verbal communication with children. I conclude most controversially that hitting a child has no value in child discipline and development.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 7 Audio Books and 3 E-books are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.

Commandment 11 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Do not Employ Sarcasm

Morning friends and welcome to a new week. I am here today to discuss the 11th Commandment of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Do not Employ Sarcasm. The truth is that it is in the character of many caregivers to speak to children with sarcasm. From my research, I have found that there are three major reasons, why caregivers speak to children in sarcasm. The first is when the caregiver is frustrated or angry. The second is when the caregiver just wants to play the game of mischief and the third is when the caregiver believes, he is helping the child to think for himself or decode complex things.

All the three are not acceptable and they do not help the child at all. In fact they mislead the child. What do you do when you are angry or frustrated with a child? You employ discipline and hold yourself and reschedule the discussion with the child. In most cases, we resort to sarcasm in communication with our children, when they ask us questions at a time when we are frustrated or angry. The children are not even the cause of our frustration. They just happen to be at the receiving end. I advise that we take it easy with our children. We should endeavour to answer their questions properly and if for whatever reason, we are not able to answer their questions immediately or we believe we are not in a good frame of mind to answer their questions, we should reschedule the discussion. As I have postulated before, we should not only reschedule, we must make it a point of duty to have the rescheduled discussion.

We cannot afford to be sarcastic with children and claim to be playing mischief. The unfortunate thing is that the children always believe us. While we think we are joking, they believe we are serious. Let me share this story with you on a lighter mood: a boy of 4 years old asked the father, ‘daddy, what does it mean to urinate?’ The father responded, ‘it means to whisper.’ The boy believed the father. One day they were in a party together. Then the boy went to the father and said, ‘daddy, I want to whisper.’ Without blinking the father said, ‘whisper to my ears now.’ Immediately the child urinated into the father’s ears.

We cannot also speak to children with sarcasm, believing that we are teaching them to think or decode complex issues. If we want to teach children to think, we teach them to answer the questions for themselves, which they asked us and we believe they should be able to answer considering their age and exposure. I have discussed that in this series. On a more serious note now, I will like to share with you a true life story that nearly cost a teacher his job. The teacher had come to the class to teach the children and give them instructions on their forthcoming examinations. One of the pupils asked him, ‘should we show others our answers in the examination hall?’ The teacher responded, ‘yes now, show your friends.’ That particular pupil was caught during the examination showing her answers to her friend. When she was asked why she did that, she simply said, ‘our teacher said, we could show our friends.’ The teacher was immediately invited and he denied ever saying that. The pupil requested to call her class mates as witnesses. All of them were called and they testified that the teacher said so. The teacher had himself to blame.

You see, to children, we must always find the wisdom and the skill to communicate what we mean and mean what we communicate. This is very important. If the teacher in our story was trying to be mischievous, he was playing the game with the wrong set of people, who are naturally at home with mischief. If he was trying to teacher them to know the obvious, he employed the wrong method to teach a group of people, who do not understand such method and even when they understand, they pretend not to.

Lastly, when we speak to children with sarcasm, we teach them to do same. Children are very good at one thing: they are very good at following examples. They do not process the example they follow, they just follow. Therefore we must beware. We must MIND OUR LANGUAGE.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 7 Audio Books and 3 E-books are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.

FREEDOM FIGHTER: WHO IS HE?

How shall he fight for others to give them what he does not have or appreciate in its true sense and essence?
Do you not know that he’s not truly FREE, who is not FREE from these:
Man and his opinion?
Materialism and its hold?
Double-mindedness and its instability?
FREEDOM is the fundamental yearning of man’s spirit, soul and body;
This kind of FREEDOM, come not to man, but from ONE;
In this FREEDOM, I walk DAILY;
It is the shortest walk to FREEDOM;
When 16 years ago, I began the RACE at the ‘FINISHED’ line called the CROSS;
And yet I was declared a record-breaking WINNER and CROWNED with the PRICELESS MEDAL of MORE-THAN-CONQUERER. Have an INSPIRED Week.
Taiwo Akinlami sober on his knees on the LORD’s Day (www.taiwoakinlami.com)

GIRLS’ RIGHT TO EDUCATION IN NIGERIA (1)

I wrote this piece in 2004 and it was published in two parts my weekly column with Daily Independent on Thursday, July 1, 20004 and Thursday, July 8, 2004. I will share the first part this week and the other next week. I was inspired to dig into my archive to bring it out today by the declaration made by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, in his goodwill message on Malala’s birthday, ‘when women and girls are educated, they accelerate development in their families and communities. For every extra year of schooling, a girl increases her future earnings by up to 20 percent.’ Having, meditated deeply on the foregoing, I feel the 9 year old piece is still relevant today, particularly as it relates to my country, Nigeria.

Though, there is a level of improvement, but as long as there is one girl child, who is out of school in Nigeria, the system is incomplete and if the system is incomplete, we must hold all stakeholders accountable for the right of the girl child to education. The statistics are still scary. Below are the statistics supplied by World Bank Data ( data.worldbank.org )

  • The In 1999, around 106 million children were out of primary school. Almost 61 million (58%) were girls compared to 45 million (42%) boys.
  • In 2009, around 35 million girls were still out of school compared to 31 million boys.
  • Although the gap in gender parity has decreased substantially, there are still many more girls out of primary school than boys.

In Nigeria today 5,054,204 and 5,487,901 male and female children are out of school respectively. It is sad that Nigeria is one of the countries, which take the lead in number of girl children, who are out to school in the world.

Having state the foregoing, I invite you to read my piece of 2004…Thank you.

“Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has 114 million people and more than 250 ethnic groups. Although Nigeria has had a National Policy on Education since 1981, it has not been implemented effectively and efficiently due to rapid population growth, insufficient political will, a long period of undemocratic governance, and poor management of scarce resources. Women and girls have been most affected by these negative factors. The national literacy rate for females is only 56%, compared to 72% for males, and in certain states the female literacy, enrolment and achievement rates are much lower. For example, girls’ net enrolment in Sokoto, one of the six target states under the UNICEF African Girls’ Education Initiative, is 15%, compared to 59% for boys.”- UNICEF

As a lawyer, I live, I move and have my being by the driving elixir resident in the injunction of the founding father of the legal profession in Nigeria, Christopher Alexander Sapara William. He instructed, “the legal practitioner lives for the direction of his people and the advancement of the cause of his country.”  In fact nothing fascinates me as a lawyer more than the fact that the profession provides a viable platform for me to engage in the noble cause of social engineering. This was the platform upon which Thomas Jefferson stood to draft the Charters of Freedom (the American Declaration of Independence) with which the United States declared its independence from the British in 1776. This declaration has today become an eloquent reference point in the struggle for the respect of fundamental human rights the world over.  It was the same platform upon which Dr. Nelson Mandela stood to reject the evil of minority domination in South Africa.

Today I am delighted to stand on this same platform to defend the rights of this Nigerian Child. I am elated by the fact that I have a virile platform to challenge a society, whose culture and negligence defy all logic of civilization, equity and good conscience. A society is best described as retrogressive when it descends into the ludicrous abyss of rating people on the basis of gender, contrary to the original intention of the Maker, who declared, “…there is neither male nor female; for you are all one…”

The introductory statement to this piece credited to UNICEF vividly illustrates the dismal case of the endangered Nigerian Girl Child, who is today denied equal opportunities to equal and adequate education with her male counterpart. The situation as it is today runs contrary to the collective spirit of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Section 42), The Organisation of African Unity Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Article 3), and The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 2).  Article 3 of the Charter provides, “Every child shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in this Charter irrespective of the child’s or his/her parents’ or legal guardians’ race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.”

Recently, a crucial meeting of West African Education Ministers held under the auspices of UNICEF in Burkina Faso to find solutions to the embarrassing situation. Next week I shall continue along this line as I bring you some of the resolutions of the meeting and other matters arising.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 7 Audio Books and 3 E-books are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.

Child Marriage, Senate and Public Anger: Reading the Mind of Nelson Mandela on Matured Social Intervention

The recent allegation that the Nigerian Senate passed a bill, legalising child marriage and the attendant public outburst has prompted this piece. Please note that this is a matter of national importance, therefore, I have not sat on the fence. I have shared my opinion in my piece, titled, ‘Constitution Amendment, Child’s Rights, The Senate and the Rest of us,’ shared on my blog ( http://wp.me/p29avh-in ) and Published on page 81 of the Punch Newspaper on Monday, July 22, 2013

This is the second major social outburst I have witnessed in recent times, particularly since the liberalization of the machinery of expression of personal opinions with the advent of the many social media platforms, known as a critical part of the New Media. The first was the public outburst that greeted the removal of fuel subsidy in 2012. One thing that is common to both events is the way the leaders of the interventions and the public gave expression to their views. I saw that the leaders of the interventions, their followers and sympathizers were not careful not to allow words of insult, hate, name-calling, labeling, curses to badly colour what could be a meaningful social intervention. Simply put, everything was employed in communicating our anger but decorum. It was as if caution and respect for dignity of human persons were thrown out of our philosophy of communication and found a permanent resting place in the arms of comfort of whirlwind. We have acted as if the use of foul, abusive and indecorous words is the globally accepted and accredited language of meaningful social intervention, though, it is not.

As a meticulous student of social struggles and an active participants in same, in the last 25 years, both within and outside the university system, bearing the scars of my involvement on my body and psyche, including detention in three detention camps in the hands of Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) and the dreaded State Security Service (SSS) and narrowly escaping a death sentence, I have come to the irresistible conclusion that we must maintain the discipline in social struggle to always separate the acts of the oppressors from the person of the oppressor or how the oppressor arrived at becoming an oppressor. This does not excuse the oppressor. It only helps us to factor him or her in in our agenda for social change. Nelson Mandela wrote in Long Walk to Freedom, ‘it was during those long and lonely years that my hunger for freedom for my own people became hunger for the freedom of all people, white and black.  I knew as well as I knew anything that the oppressor must be liberated just as the oppressed. A man, who takes away another man’s freedom, is a prisoner of hatred. He is locked behind the bars of prejudice and narrow-mindedness. I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.’

It is simply, being at home with our humanity as human beings, understanding that every human being is sharpened by their environment. It is called, socialization. The truth of the matter is that our senators are products of this society like all of us. As postulated by Olakunle Soriyan, there is a little Nigeria inside each and every one of us. The issue is that this little Nigeria is not seen until it finds opportunity for expression. We have seen the little Nigeria come out at different times in the social critics of yesteryears and yesterday, who later pitched their tents with the same class of people, they once demonized. I do not make a case for compromise in social struggle. And when I talk about not making a case for compromise, I talk about compromise of the goals the social struggle set out to achieve. I do not talk about compromise in tactics and strategy, which is inevitable in any meaningful struggle. When we understand the foregoing, we recognize the humanity of the man, who is being castigated today and we do it with caution, knowing that casting the first stone does not mean you are without sin.

We must never condone the acts of oppression for a second. I agree with Franz Fanon that ‘every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor.’ I agree with the more recent submission of Adebayo Williams that ‘a properly educated mind, will not accept an act of tyranny, because to accept the act of tyranny is an act of intellectual self-dispossession.’ I believe, we must by all reasonable and dignified means hold our elected leaders accountable.  But in giving expression to the prompting of our social conscience, in holding them accountable, we must do our entire best not to temper with their dignity of human person. We must be angry and yet not sin by issuing forth profanity to fellow human beings, who are husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, sons, daughters, representatives of their communities. Mandela again submits, I never lost hope that this great transformation would occur. Not only because of the great heroes I have already cited, but because of the courage of the ordinary men and women of my country. I always knew that the deep down in every human heart, there is mercy and generosity. No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Even in the grimmest times in prison, when my comrades and I were pushed to our limits, I would see a glimmer of humanity in one of the guards, perhaps just for a second, but it was enough to reassure me and keep me going. Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.

When, I set out to do this piece, I took a decision that in lustrating my points, I will refrain from using any of the unprintable adjectives that have been used to qualify the members of the senate. I believe I can make my point to you as people, who have followed recent events without repeating, the language I want us to forget.  The unfortunate thing is that even public figures and those who are looked up to as leaders have not shown the best of examples in their use of language.

Sadly, the kind of language, we have employed in our response to the recent issue of child marriage, I must say does not add value to the struggle. Our hostile language has not helped us to communicate our grievances better. Our language gives us away as short-distance runners, who are just angry for a while and expend all their energy in a short while and crash out very sooner than they think. Our language portrays us as a people whose only strength is our verbal exertions, which has no impact in building an enduring movement for change. Anger against persons have never changed anything but anger against systems have brought great seemingly insurmountable changes to our world. Nelson Mandela wrote in Long Walk to Freedom, ‘I was asked as well as about the fears of the whites. I knew people expected me to harbour anger towards whites. But I had none. In prison, my anger toward white decreased but my anger for the system grew. I wanted South Africa to see that I loved my enemies while I hate the system that turned us against one another.

It is also important to note that anger against the system is not expressed in too many words; it is as a matter of necessity, expressed in meticulous and careful planning. In most cases it is kept only within the knowledge of the initiated. What the public knows is also part of the plan. I think bane of our social intervention in Nigeria is that it lacks a system of intervention, which has goal or set of goal, interdependence of forces and balance of roles. When a social intervention has no coordinating authorities, it becomes a mob action. Mob action does not have the character to bring about any meaningful change. The best it could do is to become a spring board for the intervention of organized onlookers.

Though, the facts of the senate deliberations have been widely misrepresented and many, who have joined the fray did not bother to find the truth of the facts, I believe we have responded this way because we are human and maybe because of the sensitivity of the matters. It is also clear in my mind that we are just getting used to the culture of social media, where censorship must be personal and responsible and this require a lot of discipline and knowledge. Many of us do not also understand that the use of abusive and fowl words may constitute an infringement on the rights of the other person. This means that two wrongs will never be equal to a right. I also know that many of us are in different level of development and we may not know better. We are maturing in our approach. Nelson Mandela, who Richard Stengel in his book ‘Mandela’s Way Lesson of Life’ wrote ‘we long for heroes but have too few…Nelson Mandela is perhaps the last pure hero on the planet,’ was a hothead as a young man. He embraced violence as the solution to end the oppression of his people in South Africa. As he matured, he gained better understanding and learnt his lessons. I think we have a lot to learn from him today and we do not need to make same mistakes he made, hence I have quoted copiously from his autobiography, ‘Long Walk to Freedom.’

Permit me to conclude with Mandela’s understanding of true test of a freedom fighter’s devotion to freedom: when I walked out of the prison, that was my mission, to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor both. Some say that has now been achieved. But I know that is not the case. The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE. Have an INSPIRED day.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 7 Audio Books and 3 E-books are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.

Commandment 10 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Replace DISABILITY with THISABILITY in your Dictionary of Communication with children.

Prejudice is a killer. It authors both murder and suicide. It is only that it does both in subtle installments. It has its way most of the time because of its seeming innocuous nature, yet it is insidious. One thing that is clear to me is that it takes a lot of self consciousness and mind sterilization for one not to be a victim of prejudice in every area of one’s life. Prejudice build its iron nest of in the mind of men through the process of socialisation.

When we look at the African world today, there seems to be prejudice against children with hidden ability, who are called people with disability. When a child is born differently, many parents find it difficult to be proud of the child. In some extreme cases such children are abandoned. Where they are not abandoned, they are treated as inferior. In some cases, the parents, who are their primary caregivers are not proud of them not to talk of secondary caregivers like teachers, neighbours and other stakeholders in the life of the child.

Now, this kind of prejudice hinder communication with children, who have been tagged disabled. With this kind of prejudice effective communication is impossible. That is why we have professionals, who work with children with different ability, who cannot achieve any result with them in either communicating with them or helping them to communicate effectively. That is why my intervention today is not solely in the areas of rules, though; I will be discussing only one rule, which is the father and foundation of all other rules.  The rule is that for us to communicate effectively with children, who are differently able, we must deliberately depart from the popular position of the society and replace our perception of DISABILITY with THISABILITY. We must see children in this category as people with THIS ABILITY that is not obvious to all but only few, who have deeper understating to see beyond the obvious. Permit me to share with you the inspiring graduation speech of Eli, a boy with autism, at his 6th Grade graduation ceremony, posted on http://www.huffingtonpost.com: ‘as we leave here today I have a challenge for all of you. We are all different. Not less, just different. We all have things we’re good at, things we need to work on, and things we need help with. Whenever you see someone else who is different, instead of just judging them or being a bully, I challenge you to offer help and treat that person with the kindness you have shown me over the last six years. Remember, all of you can make a difference in someone’s life. You’ve already made a difference in mine.’

I think if there is anything like DISABILITY, it the people, who tagged others disabled, who are actually disabled. They suffer from a disability, known as mental myopia. It is self-inflicted. The truth of the matter again is that a child is not disabled until the people around him convince him he is. The only disability a child will ever suffer is the one inflicted by the primary and secondary custodians. John Foppe, was born with no arms. He wrote in his book, “What’s Your Excuse?’ the role his mother played in refusing to emphasise his so-called disability. The mother knew that if he was treated differently or indulged because of his so-called disability, he would never live a normal life, hence, she decided to throw self-pity away and face the reality of the situation. John turned out well. Today, he is independent. He was trained to do everything for himself. He is not a liability to anyone.

You see that is why I have problems with specialised schools for children, who have been tagged to be disabled. When we send a child to specialised school because, he is blind, deaf or lame, you already discriminated against the child. We forget that if education is supposed to train a child for life, there is not world specially created for those, we have erroneously tagged disabled. For example, there is no bank or telecommunication companies, where only the blind and the deaf work. If we separate the child, we separate him from live forever and it is difficult for him to function in everyday society. That is why I believe wholeheartedly in INCLUSIVE EDUCATION, where children, who are tagged disabled, attend same school with their mates but receive special attention that their DIFFERENCE demands. That was the advocacy Nick Vujicic’s mother embarked upon when her child was born with no arms and legs. It was the law in Australia that children with THISABILITY could not attend same school with other children. He fought the law and by the time Nick came of age to go to school, the law had been changed.

Permit me to conclude my piece today with the testimony of grateful Nick: ‘I was born without limbs and doctors have no medical explanation for this birth  “defect”. As you can imagine, I was faced with many challenges and obstacles…Understandably, my parents had strong concern and evident fears of the  kind of life I’d be able to lead. God provided them strength, wisdom and  courage through those early years and soon I was old enough to go to
school

He concluded, ‘the law in Australia didn’t allow me to be integrated into a  main-stream school because of my physical disability. God did miracles  and gave my mom the strength to fight for the law to be changed. I was one of the first disabled students to be integrated into a main-stream  school… In my early years of school where I encountered uncomfortable times  of feeling rejected, weird and bullied because of my physical difference.  It was something very hard for me to get used to, but with the support of my parents, I started to develop attitudes and values which helped me overcome these challenging times… My mom said ‘Nick, God’s going to use you. I don’t know how. I don’t know when, but God’s going to use you.’

In conclusion, I submit that the first rule in effectively communicating with and helping children with THISABILITY to communicate effectively is the RULE OF ATTITUDE. It is the father of all rules. What does it say? It simply says: ‘remove completely, our unfounded prejudice, throw them into the sea of repentance and forgetfulness and deliberately trust God for His wisdom to see their hidden ability and treat them as normal human being.’ Many have achieved this in the past and brought out the HIDDEN ABILITY in children with THISABILITY. We too can do it…It is TIME…It starts with ME…It starts with YOU…It starts with US.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:
Our Child Protection Audio Library Comprising of 7 Audio Books and 3 E-books are available for order and immediate delivery depending on your location. They are well-researched and widely-applauded materials, carefully and meticulously designed to bring to your CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE the RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES of your children and EQUIP you with the INDISPENSABLE SKILLS to do all things in the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD. Be on the side of your child Today…Be on the Side of the Future…Place Your Order NOW! @ 234-8186830275(SMS Only) or send an email, titled: ORDER to ask@taiwoakinlami.com. Thank you and Stay INSPIRED.