One of the most trending News in Africa these days is #OCCUPYPLAYGROUND saga. It is a protest staged by a group of primary school kids in Kenya denouncing the occupation of their playground. A portion of land belonging to Lang’ata Road Primary School was carved out to construct a hotel. Initially, the Kenyan Deputy President,William Samoei Arap Ruto was thought to be the owner of the hotel but in the latest development, there is a claims that he is neither the proprietor nor a shareholder. The latest development is that the hotel in question according to certain source belongs to a man named Osiero.
However, the problem is not who owns the hotel but how could it have come to the mind of any reasonable citizen to transform a primary school playground to a hotel? It simply shows the place accorded to education in this part of the world. And does it mean that no government authority was aware of its construction? Who granted them the permission to construct? These and many others are the possible questions surrounding such aberration. And to crown it all, the government allowed itself to be used by such dubious individuals. The teargasing the protesting school children and activists by the Police during the the dispersion of the protesting kids was a very bad one.
One of the errors that every society should avoid is exposing the young ones to any form of violence. What no one might understand is that what prompted these young lads to action must have been a serious issue. If they did not fear neither the police nor their fierce dogs now that they are still kids you can imagine what will happen when they become adults. Just like the old French adage says “qui a bu boira” – once an activist always an activist – these kids will never stop publicly manifesting their indigence. And the worst is that if they learn it in a hard way, they will never see protesting as a peaceful event.
This is why, when children come into scene, there should always be a peaceful way of handling their problem to avoid creating a long lasting negative impression in them. Kenyan Police has planted a seed they will harvest in the future if care is not taken. And as both the President and the Land minister has come into the matter, Kenyan government should not forget to counsel these kids if they really want them to overcome the trauma and reconcile with the police force.
Ali C Nnaemeka, omi, (firstname.lastname@example.org)