Of children and world peace

Sunday December 15 2019

 

By HILLARY LISIMBA

I recently took the young one on an evening walk at a beach in the heart of Doha called Katara. The Arab world it is, you bet most of the little ones running through the sand were light skinned juniors donning traditional Qatari wear; long snow white shirts, trousers, sandals and white head gear (gutra) held by a black rope.
He was dressed like a 21st century Kenyan boy. Anyone looking at the two would know they hail from two different backgrounds.
It did not take more than 20 minutes before my dark skinned five-year-old forged a relationship with one of the Qatari children. In that short period the two were inseparable, taking over that part of the beach like their parents owned the title deed.
They built sand castles, sunk holes, wrote huge numbers on the ground and splashed water on each other. They were soon joined by an Indian girl, and the three raced against each other in a game only they understood the rules.
Sheepish smiles
As you expect, there were moments of disagreement over conflicting ideas or suspicions of foul play, but those were quickly and amicably resolved to let play continue.
Three sets of parents stood metres apart, throwing blank stares and sheepish smiles at each other as the young ones had mad fun, oblivious of skin colour, race or social background. They had been brought together by a common cause; playing, and they dove into it without holding back about how they appeared on the outside.
The games were so thrilling that when the Arab parents called their son to head home, he flatly refused, insisting that they let him finish a new sand castle the three had embarked on. His request was granted, and for another hour the three went about their business until darkness fell (which happens from 5pm in Qatar during Winter).
“See you next time!” were the words the Arab boy shouted as he rushed to join his parents who whisked him into a red Jeep Wrangler parked nearby. The Indian girl left too, bringing an end to an eventful beach visit.
From the words of the Arab boy, he must have gone away hoping that next time he is brought to the Katara Milan, my son and the Indian girl will be there for another session of fun. We had several other places to explore so we are yet to take him back to that beach, but chances are if those three meet 10 years from now each will be conscious about their look, skin colour and background.

Favouritism
Arab, African and Indian are even far-fetched, let’s look at what happens back home where everyone is Kenyan, therefore has equal rights. This Christmas, families will witness hatred and profiling among cousins and nieces over anger between their parents, something they are not privy to.
As they have been growing up, parents have constantly told them negative things about their relatives, and done it so repeatedly that when they meet they will be hating people of the same gene pool for no reason.
The cousin whose dad is a successful businessman in Nairobi will be treated like royalty by fellow cousins whose parents are struggling farmers in the village.
The hatred that goes around our homes, families, societies and the world is a result of adults behaving badly. Where children bond unconditionally as parents stare blankly at each other because they care about social status, skin colour, background et al. Where parents show open favouritism for some children born of the same womb while disregarding others; and I am talking about blood brothers and sisters.
When I stood and watched as children from three nationalities bonded and gave it their all, it dawned on me that world peace will only be achieved when we stop spending millions of dollars and time on conventions and talk to our children about love; FOR FREE!
A few hundred individuals (representing a population of 40 billion people) sitting at a convention centre for 10 days in the name of charting a way forward for world peace is a waste of resources.
All we need is for every parent to build love and acceptance in the hearts of their children, and in a decade we shall have a world where everyone cares about the other subconsciously and unconditionally.

First published in Daily
Nation.

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