National Cohesion

Let Us Recapture the Family Values and Rebuild Our Family Units To Heal Our Nation

Last week, my moth­er was trav­el­ling back home from an engage­ment in Kitui town when a pedes­tri­an mean­dered onto the road with­out warn­ing. Luck­i­ly, my moth­er’s car only grazed her fin­ger. How­ev­er, my moth­er took the woman to hos­pi­tal where she was giv­en a clean bill of health. That should have been the end of this encounter but mum decid­ed to take the woman to her house for overnight obser­va­tion. Although mum did­n’t have to do all this, she was fueled by kind­ness to go the extra mile.
Such is the kind­ness that needs to be rekin­dled in our fam­i­lies and soci­eties. Accord­ing to data from the Kenya Nation­al Bureau of Sta­tis­tics, at least one in every eigh­teen house­holds in Kenya is head­ed by some­one who has been divorced or sep­a­rat­ed. This rep­re­sents a 16.5 per­cent rise with­in a decade.
In addi­tion to an upsurge of divorce and sep­a­ra­tion cas­es, the Kenya Demo­graph­ic and Health Sur­vey (KDHS) revealed that over 40 per­cent of women have expe­ri­enced phys­i­cal or sex­u­al inti­mate part­ner vio­lence in their life­time. Fur­ther to this, accord­ing to the Nation­al Author­i­ty for the Cam­paign Against Alco­hol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), 13% of Kenyans who drink alco­hol have devel­oped dependency.
All these soci­etal chal­lenges are symp­toms of bro­ken families.
Last week, I came face to face with the specter of bro­ken fam­i­lies and its effect on our youth. I held a dis­cus­sion with the Prin­ci­pal of a lead­ing Sec­ondary School and what I learned from her was quite dis­heart­en­ing. She told me about cas­es in which the con­flict between stu­dents and their par­ents is so ven­omous that the stu­dents express a desire to kill their fathers or siblings.
Clear­ly, stu­dents car­ry with them a lot of dis­tress from their homes. It’s no won­der that in Octo­ber 2021, a record 35 schools were set on fire by stu­dents. Many of their fam­i­lies back home are already on fire that keeps get­ting worse.
In yet anoth­er case of a bro­ken fam­i­ly as fea­tured through media a 90-year old lady was kicked out of her house by her own grand­son due to a land squab­ble. What heart­less­ness! In the same vein, it’s not uncom­mon for elder­ly peo­ple in Kil­i­fi or Kisii coun­ties to be killed by their own kith and kin osten­si­bly because they are witch­doc­tors. What cruelty!
Evi­dent­ly, the Kenyan fam­i­ly is under attack and we must do what­ev­er it takes to restore it.
Dr. John M. Gottman, a renowned fam­i­ly psy­chol­o­gist has found that chil­dren from divorced fam­i­lies are more like­ly to expe­ri­ence emo­tion­al prob­lems, behav­ioral prob­lems, and aca­d­e­m­ic prob­lems. Such chil­dren need our sup­port, not vil­i­fi­ca­tion or victimization.
For us to heal our bro­ken fam­i­lies, par­ents, teach­ers and stu­dents will have to reclaim their respon­si­bil­i­ty of rebuild­ing the fam­i­ly unit.
In 2021, renowned psy­chol­o­gist Dr. Frank Njen­ga teamed up with Kenya Pri­ma­ry Schools Head Teach­ers Asso­ci­a­tion to advo­cate for teach­ers’ men­tal health to be pri­or­i­tized. This is crit­i­cal because teach­ers are in many respects co-cus­to­di­ans of stu­dents’ men­tal health. In this regard, teach­ers can great­ly sup­port the rebuild­ing of families.
Ulti­mate­ly, the fam­i­ly unit lies in the hands of par­ents and chil­dren them­selves. Chil­dren, espe­cial­ly those in their dou­ble dig­its, should under­stand that they are not just pas­sive mem­bers of their fam­i­lies. While it’s not easy, they can pick the bro­ken pieces of their fam­i­lies and build bet­ter, brighter lives. Because it takes a vil­lage to raise a child, our chil­dren should under­stand that they are not alone. They have an extend­ed fam­i­ly and a wider com­mu­ni­ty that is there for them.
Final­ly, par­ents should nev­er for­get that they are the pri­ma­ry cus­to­di­ans of the fam­i­ly unit. The well­be­ing of their fam­i­lies — not their jobs, com­mu­ni­ties, or any­thing else — is their most impor­tant responsibility.
Indeed, I dare say that many of the prob­lems in our soci­ety and our pol­i­tics, will be solved if we rebuild the fam­i­ly unit. We can do so by recap­tur­ing and nur­tur­ing crit­i­cal fam­i­ly val­ues like the kind­ness that my moth­er extend­ed to a stranger last week. Think green, act green!

About Dr. Kalua Green

He is the Founder and Chair­per­son of Green Africa Foun­da­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion that was found­ed in the year 2000 that cham­pi­ons Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment in Africa.

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