The Vanishing Generation- By Wanjala Wafula

3 Dec

I was invited to speak at an end of year gathering for parents and academic staff of a renown University here in Kenya. Just before I stood up to speak, a group of highly inebriated students stormed the venue and snatched the food and drinks. They shouted vulgarities and even robbed some of the dignitaries. It was the open sobbing of some of the female parents and the sadness on the faces of the men that is the inspiration behind this piece. It is the wailing of one of the parents that compelled me to write this piece. “It breaks my heart to see my son behave like this. I have been silent about it for a long time now but I will not anymore. This is indeed a lost generation and we all must do something” she wailed.

The world is in a crisis and those of us who have not woken up to the reality better do. The social merit system, upon which every community set up standards and managed generational transitions, has collapsed all over the world. From the global economic and political power houses to those wallowing in poverty and want, the cry is the same. It’s a ticking time bomb as the youth resort to destructive and self defeating ways of life.  Negative masculinity is now the norm as violence now pervades the world. Patriarchy has helped even the undeserving of men and boys to claim part of the self imposed “superiority” at the behest of nobody. Destructive traditional practices and traditions that had been vanquished many decades ago are finding their way back courtesy of the rejuvenated desire among the youth to find some “relevance” in their lives.

I submit here that hypothetically, the boy child in Africa is starting to rebel as a result of what I call a systematic abandonment precipitated by a society that has given up on mentoring its youth and focused in bettering the quality of life. The emergency of the boundless media has over animated life and its meaning to the young and the eminent result is self annihilation. I heard the other day that the youth in many parts of Africa are addicted to porn and that these days courtship has been replaced by hook-ups. I am told our youth in Africa are worried about unwanted pregnancies than HIV. I hear them say that people of my age are old-school and relics.

When I was young living on the slopes of Kulisiru hills in Bungoma County in Kenya, we believed in a world where all boys had the right to become men of elevated moral character and opulence. Regrettably, numerous young men throughout the world have been dispossessed of this universal right; a deficit that has led to a rise in gang sadism, juvenile felony, familial desertion, Sexual/ gender based violence, HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the prolific poverty.

Many of us who are diehard pro-feminists are also starting to think that young men are disappearing from the radar in terms of mentorship and objective empowerment efforts. Many of us worry that a world without men of moral character, who understand their crucial roles as provider and protector, women will continue to inequitably bear the burdens of society and humanity will not prosper

Here is my message to the parents at the end year party. In the space of a few decades the way we parent has changed dramatically. Something we once did intuitively has become the subject of political fashion, guided by experts. As parents we are older and more time-poor than ever before, with the highest proportion of single-parent households in history. Our children are now spoiled in ways that go far beyond materialism. But they are suffering to a degree we never anticipated: we now have the highest rates of child depression, underage pregnancy and violent and anti-social behavior since records began. Yet adults, at every level, have retreated from authority and in doing so have robbed our children of their basic supporting structures.

Dr Bwonya insists that children’s sense of entitlement, the effects of TV and computers, single-parent homes and ‘blended’ families, parental guilt and the compensation culture are key drivers of the eminent generational collapse. He offers a clear practical message to us all – parents, grandparents, teachers and policy-makers alike – as to how we can redress the status quo, redefine our roles and together cultivate happier and better-behaved children.I have just recently learned that levels of commitment and understanding around parenting among boys remain dismal

The  safety  net  that  the  extended  family  provided  in  the  mentoring  of  boys  has
disappeared exposing boys to the allure of destructive practices and trends.   The values of
temperance,  self-control  and  discipline  have  been  replaced  with  aggression,  self
destruction and confusion.   Honorable aptitude of kindness, faithfulness, honor, love
and hard work are now regarded backwardness. I asked University students of one of
the leading universities about what manhood meant and I was shocked about just far off
the mark our society had gone.

The once plainly defined roles of fatherhood and manhood have been modified and interrupted.   The definitions of family, marriage and gender have changed, expanded, and evolved.   Mother and fathers roles have been modified, adjusted, switched and even abandoned.   Boys today are receiving mixed messages on this subject and the resulting consequences are statistically shocking.  With violence, crime, teenage pregnancy, adolescent depression, suicide and mental
disorders all on the dramatic increase, boys appear to be in a state of moral emergency.

 

The author is Founder and CEO of The Coexist Initiative, a not for profit synergy of men and boys organizations committed to eliminating all forms of sexual/gender based violence and enhancing HIV prevention in Kenya. Email:wafula@wafula.org website: www.coexistkenya.com

 

 

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