ANALYSIS: MARTIN NKOLOMBA
ON THURSDAY last week, a toddler in Kasama paid the highest price for normal wrongdoing by a human being. The poor boy, only two, was given one of the most outrageous and excruciating punishments â€“ death by a wanton man who was supposed to be his parent.
Zambia Police informed us that the infant soiled himself at some point as he slept into that fateful day. To his utter shock and that of countless others like me, his step-father beat him, kicking him to his painful death. How merciless some parents and guardians could be!
The accused, as per our law that presumes a personâ€™s innocence until proven guilty, is reportedly on the run, at least as of Friday last week. And many Zambians are hoping and confident that the long arm of the law will catch up with him sooner than later.
Several important developments have occurred recently in Zambia in different spheres such as politics, economics and business. For a journalist, these events are inexhaustible. Journalists can compose volumes upon volumes of copy from these happenings and still be dared by a huge yawning gap in their coverage.
Our news outlets, formal and informal, are daily flooded with stories of all sorts pertaining to life within our vicinity and the global village.
This, to an intelligent journalist, is enough material to set the agenda for society. With lots of stories, journalists can suggest topics to inform public discourse and even set the tone to a certain extent.
While, it would be a juicy idea for me to offer some information on recent matters of national interest, I sense a restless compulsion in me to speak for the voiceless. I am also aware of the peeping temptation to write on â€˜important topicsâ€™ journalists face all over the world.
But for me, a child being killed in the safety of his or her home is an issue worth writing about, as it represents a cause worth committing to for a lifetime.
I am troubled that the child died in such a manner. I am not bothered by the fact of death, for all of us will die when our time comes. I am angry at the ill treatment some children are growing up with.
My unbearable disturbance and pain is that the infant was killed by its parent, a step-father.
Why is it that our children are being killed for things people can so ably deal with? Who among parents anywhere in the world has never dealt with a child who has soiled himself or herself?
A child soiling himself or herself is not anywhere near sin, as it is part of the growth process of a human being, seeing as infants have no responsibility. They actually depend on elders to help them navigate this jungle of life.
As they follow, and they are arguably the best students ever, children trust their leaders, or those presumably taking care of them. Infants know nothing about this life and so they are so submissive to those taking care of them.
That could be the reason the Lord of glory advised the world to come to Him like children if at all they were interested in entering His Kingdom.
Perpetrators of violence against children; stop the nonsense. We want our children to grow up normally. We do not want them to grow up with deep wounds. Those are yours. Yes, they are yours because may be you can deal with them. They are also your fish to fry because they could be self-induced. So, keep children out of your problems.
We are tired of innocent children receiving untold suffering and even death at the hands of unreasonable adults who have made them part of their social and economic woes.
Killing children, biological or otherwise, has never alleviated or solved peopleâ€™s problems. It has made their socio-economic and other ills worse because reality has dawned on them that he who kills is not just an enemy of his or her own self, but an enemy of God and human beings.
In my many years of journalism now, I have read countless stories of how children have died some of the most unfortunate deaths such as a mother poisoning her children with Doom, an insect killer, and then herself because of marital problems, most of the time trivial and ridiculous.
In some cases, childrenâ€™s lives have been terminated for eating peopleâ€™s favourite food like eggs. Does it make any sense?
In another case, a baby drowned while its parent did the unthinkable with a man. Still in other cases, babies have been slept over by their mothers, and they have died. What about that divorced man who travelled to a town on the Copperbelt from some locality in Zambia to go and torch a house killing all in it, including children while they slept?
It is a requirement that these write-ups should be of a certain length. Thus, I would not manage to itemise all the nasty incidences in which children have unfairly died at the hands of irresponsible people.
My warning, however, is that parents and elderly people in whose care children are supposed to be should not abuse and kill our children.
Those children in your care, whether by â€˜mistakeâ€™ or not, are worth more than you and I think â€“ they are a gift from God. As such, count it a great honour that they have been placed in your care. My message is not just to perpetrators of child abuse but the whole Zambian society.
Zambia has been a conducive society to raise children. Let us do our part to maintain it as such and even make it better.
The author is Zambia Daily Mail senior sub editor.
ANALYSIS: MARTIN NKOLOMBA