“Our elders have taught us that it takes one to bring forth a child, but it takes the entire village or community to raise that child” (Awuni, Manasseh. “Manasseh’s Folder: Who’s responsible for these children?”. www.ghanaweb.com.).
With respect to your article, here is a response to consider. With respect to “these” street children, my first question, if I had a chance to meet these children would be, “Na who born you? Do you know?”. In truth, that is the question that should be on everyone’s minds when they see these children on the street. With that said, please read on . . .
The truth is, children all have one daddy and one mommy, in the traditional family sense. They also have a Father in heaven. With these truths in mind, the responsibility to raise children in line with righteous principles will be discussed at this point. Righteous family government principles collectively outline how two people (of the opposite sex), who believe in righteousness, should go about their vision for family governance. The two must choose their vision carefully, and intentionally, during the beginning stages of their marital journey. This vision of family governance should also, ideally, incorporate into the picture, the vision for the moral structuring of the lives and destinies of the offspring of the marital unit.
Now, despite the availability of the aforementioned principles of righteous family governance, as we all know, many are the peoples within Ghana and the rest of Africa, who have made it their prerogative to practice strange ideas about how to marry and raise children, notions that contribute not only to increased divorce rates in our generation, but also to the many improperly-raised children—among which are the many street children and even school-going young adults—of this generation of Ghanaians and other Africans. Having said this, let me now present my topic.
Mr. Awuni, it is time to think this one through again with a little bit more depth and wisdom, divine wisdom I mean. All street children have daddies and mommies, despite their plight. This is a fact! Somehow, these parents are absent (we don’t have all the facts). In that case, the real issue we must address is why these parents are absent, along with how to best enable neglected children to come out of their circumstances. In this article, I therefore seek to not only respond in part to your piece called, Manasseh’s Folder: Who’s responsible for these children?, but I also intend to poke as many holes as I possibly can, into that ANNOYING “African” proverb of no substance! . . . I mean the one which tells you that when parents fail, somehow “it takes a village to raise a child”. This is not wisdom! This is a recipe for confusion and many other problems in society. Thank you.
Manasseh, the Almighty God is Responsible for these Children, however . . .
Mr. Awuni, let me respond to your article please. With that said, let me first introduce you to a term that you might very well be familiar with Manasseh. Have you ever heard of the term, “father to the fatherless?”. The term has some depth to it. Its origins have been brought out of Hebrew culture whereby Yahweh Elohym of ancient Yisraelite fame, takes it upon Himself to be the advocate of the children who have no helper (i.e. the fatherless). Mr. Awuni, let me also say that I am a priest by calling, so this is my jurisdiction. I can therefore speak candidly about this topic and because of experience, wade deep into the waters of testimony regarding just how evil some Ghanaian parents and elders have been in the past generation, if necessary.
Candidly speaking, Mr. Awuni, I don’t think the institutions of the democratic state have any real responsibility towards children whose parents do not practice the basics of what is right in the sight of God. This is partially why, I must confess, I do not believe in democracy and its notions of lumping many unspiritual ideas about what is right and wrong, into a mélange of socio-political dispositions that hardly articulate anything consistent with moral truth. My lord has all authority when it comes to moral truth! He is lord and he is righteous! Amen.
Having dealt with the matter of democracy, I will also say that, personally, I do not accept responsibility for the doings of silly, heathen and calculatingly calloused parents who do not think straight before dousing themselves with the anointings of sexual sin and then birthing children that they can’t raise, let alone care for materially! Now, despite my previous comments, I testify that the mercy of God still propels my thinking to be inclined to the welfare of the fatherless, of which some of these street children could comprise. That is my lot in life, for which I am happy to oblige the terms of the Almighty King who sits upon the heavenly throne. I must therefore bless children. He is merciful. Amen.
Now, God’s Son Yeshua ha Mashyak (Jesus Christ) knew all along that some people would not be responsible enough in life to make decisions that benefit future generations. However, as a Father should do, God made wisdom, knowledge and understanding available to every generation that ever existed, so that it could rectify the ill-doings of members of society who reject spiritual truth and as a result of this, birth children outside of righteousness. In line with this, God also provided the Church with ministers to salvage the fatherless situation among mankind. This, in effect is what it means for men to be “drawn to Jesus”, also known as Yeshua.
Hence, not only is God Himself a “Father to the fatherless”, but in addition, men of wisdom like the priest or “kohen” of ancient Yisrael are also known to some extent as fathers to the fatherless. So then, I reiterate, the Almighty King whose name in Hebrew we know is Yahweh Elohym, He is the one who is responsible for these children whose parents may not have chosen righteousness as a way of life. Again, we do not have all the facts about these street children who have been pictured with your article.
Some African Proverbs are just pieces of Unspiritual Wisdom!
I will now proceed to gut the “it takes a village to raise a child” proverb. As a man of God who loves wisdom more than the nonsensical, base, carnal reasonings called academia that so many Ghanaians have embraced to their own detriment and disgrace, it is important that I address the matter of how wisdom instructs people to handle the plight of the fatherless. In order to do this however, I must show by explanation, the two types of wisdom that exist. In true terms, there is something called “spiritual wisdom” and also, there is something called “worldly wisdom”. They are not the same.
Spiritual wisdom is much “higher” than worldly wisdom when it comes to its influence on the psyche and its effects on the behavioural disposition of mankind. The latter only deals with the physical realm and physical perception. Also, the first type of wisdom mentioned is from God, whereas the other, hmmm, it has NO ORIGIN that is related to what Yeshua taught to be his Father’s will.
Now, let me say something about the African village that you alluded to in your piece. How can you tell me that a village is necessary to raise a child when the village elders may very well be Ghanaian and lawless for that matter? You know Ghanaian elders, right? The kind who are often unethical and dare I say UNWISE? . . . the kind who are often doing things to oppress children for no good reason? The kind who treat their own children fairly but abuse other people’s children? You get it right?
Mr. Awuni, have you been to the African village setting of late? If not, let me inform you of one of the matters that still plagues the African village setting. It’s called, in my “father voice” (or father’s language)—a language of modern and ancient content known as the Evhegbe of Ghana, Togo and Benin—"amɛtsitsi manyanu o”, or better yet, just “amɛtsitsi tsibomɛ”. This is to say, an ELDERLY FOOL. And as you know, there are many of them in Ghana today. They also exist within the greater West African sub-region. Tell me Mr. Awuni, are these the elders that you are referring as the “village” that you think it takes to raise a child?
Elderly fools are the bane of traditional African government. Needless to say, they are also the bane of righteousness among future generations of young people. Their influence can be linked to many social ills. It is these types of elders who usually do not even use proverbs as they used to be used in African culture. And, in many instances, instead of living lives that are commensurate with wisdom of the spiritual kind, these elders often promote base reasoning that is used to get children to simply do whatever older people tell them, instead of teaching children to think critically and to make decisions for themselves, before and after they reach the age of reason.
Mr. Manasseh Azure Awuni, tell me something I do not know at this time. Please, tell me another proverb that explains whose village coined the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”. As well, tell me, was it spiritual or unspiritual elders who coined the proverb? And then, tell me what their childrearing culture was like. Thank you. I await your response.
Finally, let me counter the “it takes a village” proverb with one that was written by the Holy Spirit-inspired King Solomon. Solomonic wisdom provides divine insight into how to effectively deal with the plight of street children. Through Solomon, “son of David, king of Yisrael”, the Almighty Elohym says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways . . .” (Mshly/Proverbs 23:26, KJV). In other words, God’s wisdom teaches us to let children know that they should give their heart to God. By so doing they will learn how to think, and of course, how to perceive the world around them using divine lenses. By the way, although the former proverb is written to “my son”—sons are the future fathers who will form the foundation of the family in later generations (based on Hebrew thought)—it is applicable to daughters as well.
Democracy versus Traditional African Government’s Family Factor in Governance
Manasseh, excuse me to say this, but I believe that there is something inherently stupid (or numb-minded) about this thing called democracy. You know what it is? It’s the fact that it puts people with dubious family governance credentials, and questionable principles, in a position to parade their roles of “father of the nation” and the so called “first lady” garbage before our eyes on a daily basis. This is despite the fact that their principles for family governance may never have been properly checked or investigated by the people of a nation. In other words, democracy is a system in which often, we do not get to see what a president and his wife really stand for, except in their presentation of a façade, just to get elected.
In contrast to the nonsense called democracy, in the traditional African government sphere—at least I can speak for the Evhe and other Gbɛ-speaking groups of West Africa—there is a clear indication of what constitutes a family and what the roles of family governors and elders are supposed to be. Family governance is of utmost importance among the Evhe of West Africa. This is despite the fact that many Evhe fathers of Generation Citizen Independence—the generation that was raised in the 60s by being fed on western education—and even today are failing to properly govern the family unit in harmony with what is prescribed by the Torah (or five books of Moses).
Traditional Government is more relevant to these Children than Democracy
“The elders who coined this proverb also remind us that even though the cock may belong to one household, its crow wakes the entire village . . . A child is born by one family, but it takes more than that family to raise the child” (Awuni, Manasseh. “Manasseh’s Folder: Who’s responsible for these children?”. ghanaweb.com.).
Again, I don’t see the wisdom in some of these proverbs that you used. They don’t seem to relate well to the fact that God gave a command to honour FATHER and MOTHER for a reason. Other people in one’s community may help you during your childhood, however, they DO NOT have a divine obligation to raise you to maturity or feed and clothe you until self-sufficiency sets in, as in the case of your own parents. This reality means that children who are neglected, may not have a real sense of what it means to honour the village (who raises a child) or its doctrines.
God parents? Perhaps other villagers can play that role if formally appointed to do so. However, without a clearly articulated social contract that outlines the policies by which a society, or your proverbial “village”, gets involved in a neglected child’s life, I think it is best to relegate the African village proverb to where it belongs: in the garbage! It belongs there with every other mindset that does not lend to righteous principles of family governance that emanate from the philosophy that two biological parents must righteously carry their burden! In the case where parents are struggling and need help, they must ask for it in order to receive it. In addition, they must be appreciative!
By the way, in the case of democracy, it is very interesting that many people openly articulate a belief in helping neglected children but backtrack as soon as this involves funding their wellbeing. In democracy, funding the wellbeing of neglected children usually implies that hirelings like social workers, caseworkers, and the like, change the context of childrearing.
This is to say that although childrearing should be based on righteous principles, these democratic state functionaries or hirelings change the context to something else, in order to suit certain agendas whereby children are sometimes “educated” to be misfits and further liabilities to society. For example, this is often the case in places like North America where many social workers do not give a hoot about things like wisdom and how it applies to raising the mental and moral capacity of parentless children. I will leave it there for now. Thank you, Manasseh. God bless you.
NB: Based on my write-up, I do believe that Ghana has reached a place where it is necessary to scrap the not only wasteful, but HEATHEN agenda of a “Gender Ministry”, and to replace it with a Ministry that righteously deals with “Family Affairs” (father, mother and child inclusive). In addition, it is time for more African nations to address policies pertaining to a nation-wide parenting agenda, in line with the dictates of righteousness. This will go a long way to address the problems of the fatherless and motherless in society. Mawu nayra mi katan! That is, God bless you all!
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Apostle Mawuetornam Dugbazah is a professional designer and communications specialist. He writes on contemporary issues of faith, science, politics, economics, righteousness and reason in the Church and beyond. He is a professional who considers righteousness to be a necessity in business; he is the Principal of Dugbazah Communications (DCOMM), a communications consultancy. He can be reached at [email protected] with comments.