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Monkey See, Monkey Do

December 19, 2012

The testing period is over and now we are just about to start the festive season. In fact I should have said the festive season is here with us because if we are to be honest,  for most of us our minds are already on holiday; the bodies are just there to be counted by the bosses.

In Tanzania, the festive season started by celebrating Independence Day on the 9th of December, which was exactly one week ago. It was all pomp and colour as this beautiful lady came of age, celebrating 51 years of self-rule. As I watched the proceedings on National Television, I couldn't help but think to myself, "if Tanzania was a person, she would be one beautiful lady. The older she gets, the better she becomes. And if I was a man, I’d probably date her…." 
Then 12th December came and Kenya, Tanzania's younger sister in the East Africa Community Family, celebrated her 49th year of independence. Again as I sat watching the proceedings I was amazed at how far this young girl, now fully mature, had come. As usual, my graphic mind came up with another thought: what if Kenya was a real person and had a Facebook profile? Can you imagine what her relationship status is likely to be? Well, with all the suitors she's getting lately, if I was in her shoes I'd say "It's Complicated".
To the two East African Nations, I'd like to wish you both a belated Happy Independence Day. 
Of course it would be very unfair to think of our nations' independence and not think of what and whom it took to get it from the hands of the colonialists. If it were not for the brave men and women who fought hard and tirelessly for the redemption of our countries, we would not have started the festivities early by celebrating our independence. I salute all the freedom fighters for making it possible for us to enjoy the peace and freedom we do today. You are our heroes and heroines. 
Speaking of heroes, do you have any hero/heroine?  What did they do for you to place them on such a high pedestal? If your answer is Ben 10, Spiderman, Superman and the like, then it is very clear which generation you belong to; the generation that lacks heroes to emulate. I say this with conviction because as it stands, the moral decay in the societies we live in has gone so deep that people no longer care what those looking up to them think.
Please don’t get it twisted. A hero does not necessarily mean someone who went out to fight in the war, or to fight for liberation like the Mau Mau did in Kenya. No. According to one dictionary, a hero is a person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities. A heroine is the female version of a hero. The magic words here are “noble qualities”.
I remember when I was growing up it was a taboo to see a man hitting a woman. As we all know, that was in the past because the story now is different. It became the order of the day in our neighborhoods, until it stopped being news. Now roles have been reversed and it is women who are beating their husbands, but soon enough, even that will stop being news if the current trend in the region are anything to go by.  Unless something is done, soon it will be the children beating up their parents; after all, the parents have no qualms fighting or having a screaming match in the hearing or presence of their children.
Then there is the issue of promiscuity. Previously it used to be men running around looking for the forbidden fruit but nowadays even that title they have lost to the women. I wish they were losing it for a positive reason but unfortunately this is not the case. The level of clandestine relationships increases by the day, and of course with the help of technologies such as social media, cheating has definitely been made easier for whoever wants to partake of it. How then do we expect to have morally upright children, if we ourselves are so twisted?
Sometimes I wonder to myself, what would happen if the contents of people’s inboxes on Facebook and other sites were exposed to the rest of the world? What would yours contain? And what if one day there was a virus that sent all your sms/BBM/Whatsapp messages to your wife’s/husband’s number? Would you still have a marriage to go back to? I’ll say this: “Don’t do it in darkness if you would not want it brought to light….” One day whatever you have been doing behind your partner’s back will come out. It always does. 
Then there is the issue of corruption. Imagine a situation where you are driving with your son in the car then you are pulled over by the traffic cops. The cops find out that you don’t have the infamous fire extinguisher, plus you had not fastened your seatbelt and you have no driving license. With the new traffic rules in place in Kenya, I don’t even want to imagine how much you would either pay in fines, or how long you would stay in jail. 
Anyway, to avoid paying the fine and spending time in jail, you decide to pull out your wallet in the full view of your son, and give the traffic cop a bribe, also known as “kitu kidogo”….not that it would have mattered if you had done it away from him; it’s the very action that counts. My question to you is, what morals are you teaching your son? Are you not teaching him that it is right to bribe your way out of trouble? That corruption is alright?  That one should not take responsibility and accountability for their wrongs?
And what about that traffic cop who accepts that bribe? What lesson does the young boy learn from him? That cops are not to be trusted because they can easily be corrupted?  Unfortunately this has become the order of the day and somehow it has become an “acceptable” habit in the society regionally. Doesn’t matter whether you are in Tanzania or in Kenya or in Uganda. Someone must have sent a memo across the region with an “acceptance speech” on it.
Friends, in closing I will say this, it does not matter where you are or who you are. No, wait a minute. Scratch that. It does matter who you are. The higher your status quo in society is, the more people you have looking up to you and if you have nothing good to emulate, then..... Since most people have adopted a carefree attitude, is it a wonder then that our kids are resulting to Superman and the like as their heroes?
Be the person you would want your children to look up to as their hero/heroine. Whatever you do, there is a 95% chance that your children will do too.  It is your choice to decide what you want them to emulate. For instance, if you want your son to have good relationship with his wife, treat his mother right and he too will treat his wife right. This is just one example.
Remember, “Monkey See, Monkey Do”.
PS: This article appeared on the 16th December 2012, in one of the Weekly Newspapers in Tanzania, "Guardian on Sunday", under my column known as "Thoughts in Words".



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