Is it Punishment or Child Abuse?

Punishing children at homes and schools

In the resent past we have seen in the media several incidents of child beatings by parents or school teachers showing ugly wounds or scars inflicted. The reason is “discipline”.

Beating or spanking is an age old disciplinary technique, so turning the tide against it may be difficult. Some people even argue that it’s a necessary tool in a parent’s arsenal of options.

In my opinion, canning a child to the extent of inflicting wound is a child abuse dressed up as acceptable punishment.

Whether majority of Kenyans approve of corporal punishment or not, Kenyans have distinct history with the subject. Beating children depressingly being familiar habit in schools and homes.

Children are beaten to keep them from misbehaving as we say. If beating children began paradoxically as a violent preventative of even greater violence then it was enthusiastically embraced in our culture.

We have heard of all sorts of excuses for beatings. Children have borne physical and psychological scars of beatings. We seem to have confused the connection of children behavior with corporal punishment.

The point of discipline is to transmit values to children. The purpose of punishment is to coerce compliance and secure control, and failing that, to inflict pain as a form of revenge.

Amusement make us lough and keep us from crying and disappointment. But no humour can mask the suffering that our children endure when they are beaten, feeling of sadness and worthlessness, difficulties sleeping, bouts of anxiety, outburst of aggression, diminished concentration, dislike of authority, and negative high risk behavior.

Equally tragic is that those who suffered beatings are likely to become beaters too.

We may seem to think that beating the child to that extent will stop the child getting in trouble with the law or mob justice for that matter. But physical and psychological damage done will probably remain forever. What will hurt less is the loving correction of the children misbehavior so that they grow up healthy to adulthood with no bitterness, and speak against violence wherever they find it.

The Oppressed People of Kibra : A Nubian Perspective

Nuba woman near Kau, Nuba Mountains, Sudan
Nuba woman near Kau, Nuba Mountains, Sudan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

British colonial government and the Nubian soldiers

When the British first came to Kenya, they brought with them conscripted soldiers from the Nuba area of the Sudan – whose descendants now live scattered in many areas in Kenya, but the majority of them are found in the slum area of Kibra in Nairobi.

After their arrival in Kenya the British possessed and exercised absolute sovereignty over what became known as the Kenya British Colony.

The British colonial government  allocated a land approximately 4000 acres set up as a military settlement for the Sudanese soldiers. This piece of land, which is the present Kibra, is on the outskirts of the city of Nairobi.

The vast land was then “empty”, uninhabited thick forest when the Nubians first occupied it.

English: Slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.
English: Slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This was the land that the colonial government gave as a gift to the ex-Sudanese soldiers in recognition of their distinguished service.

The Nubians knew how to survive there as they came to know the area so well. They divided the area into small villages and had names for each village in their own language(s).

They cultivated the land to produce food for themselves.

Kibra land survey and allocations

In the year 1933 a land commission was formed by the then British colonial government and was known as ” Carter Land Commission”, which set out policies on land uses and acquisition. The Kibra land case was particularly mentioned in this report where special consideration was given to the area.

In the year 1934, a plan of  “location survey of buildings and agricultural lands”  was prepared which showed the numbered plots allocated to the ex-Sudanese soldiers and their descendants.

These plots were considered in the same category as any rural ancestral land around the country and therefore subject to being accorded appropriate security of tenure ownership document.

Broken agreement

When people “treatied” or “agreed” with one another, on whatever agreement with one another, each party’s interest, its pride and its word were at stake. The word  used in this case “agreed” (to give this piece of land to the ex-Sudanese soldiers as a gift) was given in a very sacred way and should not have been very easily broken.

Rewriting history

The present authority appear to have distorted the history about Kibra. It is difficult to find written document about this piece of land.

In the early years when the then British colonial government recognized and handed over the land to the ex-soldiers, the crown of the Great Britain must have laid down a process in the proclamation that set forth the policy on this particular piece of Kibra land. To my knowledge, that policy has not been revoked at any time. In the proclamation, the Colonial government must have recognized that  any land possessed or given to a certain individual or group would be reserved for them until they ceded that land back to the authority.

In the Carter Land Commission of 1933 report lies a proclamation that could be regarded as the first major  legal link between the Kibra Nubians and and the Kenya government. And by virtue of that proclamation, it can be said that Kibra is legally an area reserved for Nubians.


The history on the settlement of Kibra has shown that the successive Kenya governments have continued to disregard the plight of the Nubian community. The oppression of this marginalized community is about the denial of security of land tenure and the citizenship rights.

On the other hand, why have the successive British governments maintain a non-committal stance on this matter?



Street Children Dilemma

Paradise Lost!_Street Children_Indonesia_02
Paradise Lost!_Street Children_Indonesia_02 (Photo credit: henri ismail)

Street children

The Kenyan Coastal city of Mombasa has become a heaven for street children in the resent years. These children come from various parts of Kenya. Their numbers are increasing rapidly and they have become a great security risk in the city. Those who came to this city in mid 90’s are now grown ups, homeless and jobless.

The term ‘street children’ is used for children experiencing homelessness and who primarily reside on the streets of a city. This kind of living being more less a more permanent state for them.

These children differ in age, gender, ethnicity, social class, and  have had different experiences throughout their life times.

The causes of their misery are varied but are often related to domestic, economic and social disruptions in the families, including, but not limited to poverty, breakdown of homes and/or families, and political unrest.

What kind of life do they live?

They have no any kind of basic sanitation, no running water.

They have no descent clothing, they wear rags.

They have no food or drinks.

These children in street situation are especially vulnerable to violence and abuse. They are denied access to education and excluded from any kind of basic needs.

Menace to society

These children harass passersby by begging and pickpocketing.

The streets in the city, where they ‘live’ are filthy with litter and smelling bad due to lack of sanitation.

They cause damage to environment, and theft, especially of car parts and other petty thefts have increased significantly.

Most of them use drugs like cocaine and become drug addicts at very young age

Public reactions

Due to the above reasons, the public reactions to the street children has been harsh because they are seen as public menace. They are therefore subjected to verbal and physical abuse and even harmed in some cases.

Rights of children

Rights of the child is a moral claim to a specific standard of treatment that others must obey and respect. These are laid down in the UN Convention on The Rights of Children – a legal document that sets out a comprehensive series of rights, social, economic, cultural and political – to which all children are entitled.

Therefore, having said the above, the public ought to realize that these children, who are in an unfortunate situation, are protected by the law and should be careful when handling them.

Writing this article was not meant for making money. However the donation will help me cover my blogging expenses in the long journey  I intend to make advocating for the reforms of the marginalized minority.

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Truth Justice and Reconciliation Report

The Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC)

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission report that Kenyans have been anxiously waiting for is finally out and handed to the President of Kenya. This is the truth telling process that emphasize reconciliation.

The Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) was established in Kenya in August, 2009 by the TJRC Act 2008. The act acknowledges that since independence was achieved in this country in 1963, there has occurred gross violations of human rights, abuse of power and misuse of public office. Citizens of this country are therefore wrestling with the question of how to live with these atrocities.

However, during the ongoing wave of democratic transformations, there appear to be a new commitment at both domestic and international levels to bring justice and healing to people who have experienced gross human rights atrocities all these times. Domestically this initiative is in the name of TJRC. This is a welcome move.

Te effectiveness of this commitment will however be judged by the moral and political will to implement the recommendations given – whether in full or in part.

Let us also be mindful that there are some transgressions against Kenyans that cannot be properly addressed by our judicial institutions due to procedural and other hindrances.

Kiba land

Example is the land claim in Kibra by the Nubian community, who know no other home than Kibra. The Nubian community has written a comprehensive presentation to TJRC on the Kibra case.

There are other marginalized communities like the Nubians who have also presented their cases to TJRC.

What remains to be seen is whether people will end up smiling or whether status qua will remain. Let us it for the implementation of the recommendations in the report.

By the way, it is said that if the transgression is a result of error rather than impulse or intent, then the wrongness is not “in” us!

Writing this article as not meant for make money. However, the donation will help me cover my blogging expenses in the long journey I intend to make advocating for the marginalized minority, and engaging in community matters

Donations can be made via PayPal using the button below.


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Kenya Nubians Celebrate ACERWC Rulling

ACERWC rulling

The year 2012 brings with it a great hope and high expectations for the Nubian community on Kenya. This is so because in September 2011, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of Child published its first ever decision, relating to discrimination in access to nationality for Nubian children in Kenya. ACERWC was responding to a communication filed under its complaints procedure. The committee found the case to be admissible because the national proceeding here in Kenya had effectively stalled making the case an exception to the requirement to exhaust domestic remedies before turning to the committee.
The arguments put forward to the Committee of Experts are:
1. Violation of the rights to acquire nationality at birth for Nubian children.
2. Unlawful discrimination against Nubian children on basis of their ethnic background.
3. Consequential violations: as a result of historical tre- atment as foreigners, citizen status was uncertain, denial of equal access to essential services such as education and healthcare.

The Committee found Kenya’s action violated Article 6 of the African Charter provision protecting children’s right. The Committee then made its recommendations to the government of Kenya to correct the violations within six month after the ruling.
ACERWC decision’s significance extends well beyond Kenya. Nubians are conscious that their case could have far reaching implications for other marginalized groups in Kenya and Africa as a whole. Their example should also be a source of hope and encouragement for stateless communities struggling to claim their rights all over the world.

Time to celebrate or is it still too early?

Modern day Slavery – Denial of Basic Human Rights

English: Saudi Arabia
English: Saudi Arabia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Forced labor in the Middle East.
Recent news in one of kenyan daily news paper regarding injustices done to workers from Kenya in Saudi Arabia is shocking and disgusting. The report allege that an international human trafficking ring is collaborating with some employees of some middle east embassies in Kenya to recruit unsuspecting Kenyans for jobs in Saudi Arabia. The criminal network is actually sending these people to forced labor. The cartel lure the victims by placing advertisements of well paying job opportunities in those countries.
In the recent past, scores of Kenyans have fallen prey to these crooks.
The reports about the forced labor came out after several incidents of human right abuse were reported to the Kenya government by the relatoves of the victims. Some deaths of victims were also reported in the last two years. But unfortunately the Kenya government has so far not taken the matters seriously. Who then can shield the Kenyans from this kind of abuse?
Why Kenyan youths take the risk .
Youths are easy prey because of serious unemployment on the country. The number of unemployed youths in Kenya has grown so much. Hence the increasing number of poor and excluded people who are at threatening end of the human right violations.
The policy of exclusion practiced by those in authority is not spoken, but os never the less building with respect to social disparities caused by poverty and unemployment of literate youth, which remain a political time bomb of numbers running into millions.

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