Our babies, our tik-ing bomb

2012-05-04 12:32

They walk with a crouch and a shuffle in their step, their hands gesturing to indicate some pain in the abdomen.

Some of them are young girls in their teens though many are boys.

These are sons and daughters whose lives have changed from lovely children to filthy addicts.

They are carriers of a terrible truth about a horrible fact that is reconfiguring the dreams of many children and families across the rainbow country.

This is my witness of the youths that are daily caught in a terrible snag for being curious.

Every morning they gather at busy intersections to earn some money directing commuters into taxis.

Others beg on the streets.

Many drop out of secondary school because the regimented atmosphere of a classroom is not a place for anyone in constant need of a fix.

At home, their siblings and parents are constantly suspicious of their presence, especially since house utensils and appliances started disappearing.

These boys are known to everyone in their respective communities.

They are easily found and interrogated in the event of petty thefts unfolding.

The booming subsistent trade in copper and similar metals mean that water taps, door knobs, and gate handles are stolen for resale at scrapyards and recycling depots.

So when things go missing, you know who’s first to be questioned.

Many times the suspicions result in severe beatings for wrongs committed by other people. So it’s no wonder that for this lot, home has become the place where the hate is.

Hence they sleep in car parks, dumping sites and all over the streets, because this is where the universe yields a meal for the night.

People have long grown desensitised to their plight and presence on the streets; fewer are moved to donate coins, let alone some bread.

In fact, neighbours and old classmates avoid crossing their paths.

So our young addicts are like cast-out lepers.

Although they share our everyday space, we’ve learnt not to acknowledge that we see them. These are orphans of our rainbow dream.

Many, are the spawn of frail mothers and absent fathers and they grow in numbers daily.

Our official grammar for talking about these children includes phrases like, “previously disadvantaged” or “formally marginalised”.

The implication is that they are “currently advantaged”. How advantaged are they now?

The substance that turns their brightest hopes into rot has many names, nyaupe, woonga or tik.

It’s widely sold throughout the country. In every township, the seller is known and always welcomed.

However, the fruits of his labour, these broken babies, receive all the frowns and punishment.

For that I hear the soil calling for a restorative dialogue, lest we dress ourselves in delusional dashikis of a culture that eats its own young.

» Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu

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