by Jeremiah Mhlanga (1980)
reblogged from March 2008
What an amazing child this is. Actually it is not only a child as in only one, it is a group of them if not many of them. If you look at them you will be surprised that the only thing they look for is a 50 C. They are not so expensive; don’t you think so? If you can promise them that amount, they can do a lot for you, they will not only do it, they will do it very quickly as those who are racing against time. When they can get even more than one 50 C it will be as one who has received a bonus. To these children 50 C is not a small amount; it has turned out to be their lives.
No, do not get me wrong, they do not need it because they are poor, most of them come from well established families financially. They know that when they reach home, they will have something to eat; most of them do not know what it is to lack food. So what will they need it for? They need it to keep themselves alive, well the other side of being alive. Maybe you need to know more about these children. Most of them when they arrive at home, they are always overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the big house they have to occupy for the rest of the day. Each time when they open the door, they are afraid to face those walls. Oh, yes the house they enter in is not empty; there are good and beautiful furniture in most of these houses. The children know that also. They have tried to make use of them, often when they enter the house, they will rash to the remote control; even before they can put their school bags down or decide to take off their school uniform.
They need someone to do the talking in the house. So before they can start to do anything, it is good that they can have some voices to talk in the house. Sometimes they try to sing with them, you can hear them from very far, because they always make sure that it is loud enough. If you do not know them, you may think that they are using the freedom they have in the absence of their parents. However it is the other way round, they are trying to create a voice which was supposed to welcome them when they come from school. It is not there. However they cannot keep up very long with this noise, soon you will hear that it will be silent. No, they are not working; they have changed to something else. They are trying to watch some cartoons if they are privileged to have a DSTV, or they may have to search through the local channels to find something to entertain them. You will be amazed that even this will not keep them busy for too long. Soon they are irritated and everything is off. Yes, there is a problem with all these voices they are hearing. It is true that even if they are talking, they cannot talk with them. They can only listen, but they cannot say anything in turn. This world they are living in leaves them isolated and lonely.
So they have found something to keep them busy, at least it looks like it is there to answer their problems. The key to this is found in that 50 C I told you about. When they have one, they will not even stay long in the house, at times they forget to eat. They are rushing somewhere, for if they do not make it early, they may find the queue very hard to get through. They are rushing to that small tuck shop. There they will find some video boxes (games), there that 50 C will do the life for them. Maybe you want to know how. Well the atmosphere there is totally different from home. They have their fellow peers to watch. It is an atmosphere where they get appreciated and praised.
This is how it all happens, every time that they come to that video box, if they can make it for that day to come up with something new, maybe a way which is not known to many to defeat the opponent that will make them happy. Maybe they are able to get through to other levels which only few can manage to get through. All these things will make them gain some respect and they will be known as to be among the best. This will give them some opportunities for the future. They need to do this because they know that they will not always have the 50 C. Yes, it is not all who play, some are there to watch. They are waiting for the time when one will get stuck, so that they can help, because they are always best. Some are just watching to learn some new tactics so that tomorrow they can compete better.
This is not the only thing, there is something also; you can see this when you are watching these children when they are playing as they press those buttons. After making through one difficult level, you may find some of them speaking loudly in joy; ‘I told you that I will beat you, I will kill you.’ Are these some simple words coming from their mouth? Not really, they are expressing their frustrations; it is not someone who is just speaking as a result of being entertained. They feel like they have managed to conquer something, and they feel like there are some who are watching their success. In a way they can shout with them; ‘You have made it, you have made it.’ At least it is success achieved. That feeling is able to bring them back home.
Do not think that when they arrive they will find things being better. They know that soon parents will be back home, so after they had some good time in their new daily care, they will rush home to do some quick cleaning. If they do not do it, it may mean that they will not have 50 C tomorrow. So the parents will come from work, and they will just be parts of the walls in the house. They will be speaking many things, but they will not be speaking with their children. The mother will be busy to prepare food, and the father will try to be up to date with the day’s events. Soon they will be sitting down eating, however do not think that this will be the time to engage one another in a good conversation. It will not happen, because by the time they eat, it will be the time to watch something on TV. The little box will be doing the talking, and they will all give their attention to it. So though they are people in the house, they do remain strangers to one another.
Soon they will be going to sleep, and they will be gone very early in the morning. However when the children wake up; the first thing they will do is to look on top of the fridge, to see if they have some pocket money for their lunch. If they see something, they know that their day will be fulfilled. The parents will put something somewhere in the house for them. So these children do not take some lunch boxes when they go to school, for they receive some money to buy their lunch at school. So this is how they manage to get the money in case you have been wondering where they get those 50 C. They have learnt to budget that amount for every day even at times they can increase it by denying themselves some other sweetie things. Yes they do it for that 50 C.
I hope you will understand where the title comes from. This is what I see daily, and I ask myself; what is it that can be done for them? Maybe we both know that they do not need something to keep them busy, they had enough of those. They need a home, though they have one, but they need a home where someone will talk to them, teach them the only way to face this life: the way that is found in Christ. Their hearts remain empty; they feel alone in this big world. Their scream is not heard by anyone. It may remind you of the heathen god during biblical times named Molech, of whom the Israelites were warned against. Molech was a strange god, for he ate children. We are told that it was a brazen image with an opening in it. A fire would be made in this opening and each parent had to come and with his / her own hand place his / her firstborn child in the white-hot outstretched hands of Molech. The parent was not allowed to show emotions, and drums were beaten so that the baby’s cries could not be heard as the baby died in the hands of Molech. This is no different from our time. There are many drums playing in which parents have managed to shut down the cry of these children. It is all the busyness the parents are involved in. They will tell yo that they do it for their children. But it is the children who are being eaten by the same things they provide for them, and many parents have stood watching their children eaten by this modern way of life. What the future holds for us with such a generation if it will not only be death all over, and the smell of death.