There are many, many aspects of culture that many of us take for granted so inherent and integral they have become within our various cultures. One of these gems is children!
Children, yes children and how wonderful, truly wonderful children can be!
Of course then there are those times when they try us beyond our patience pushing us to the brink of insanity and many of us not realizing that these beings staring up at us with those eyes and facial expressions are PROFESSIONAL CHILDREN who are very skilled in how to irritate parents to get what they want!
Then there are those many tales, tales that even in adulthood these rascals still keep those secrets of their behind their parents backs activities, activities that would fail our hearts at their discovery and activities that remain unknown to their parents beyond the years of childhood.
We all remember!
Then there are those many mornings when we want so desperately to sleep in only to be awakened by their out of doors activities, laughter, screams, and squeals of delight, fights and so on! DRIVES US NUTS SOMETIMES but oh how we love the sounds of children at play!
Children playing outside with their friends and in the suburbs up and down the streets as though they were insane!
Children riding their bicycles up and down the sidewalks almost daring us to not move.
Children on their skateboards, roller blades and whatever new device they might have acquired with their pleading eyes and their pleading voices wearing their parents down to finally purchase these tools of childhood!
Oh how they push us to madness sometimes! But again, oh how we love them and all these sounds!
For the first few months while I was in South Africa I had noticed something very eerie, it took me a few weeks before I realized that these sounds of children are not heard any more out of doors except for family outings and such. Mostly children are confined to homes or small yards or in bigger communities, those larger secured play areas.
This longing to hear these sounds of children at play never leaves and is a constant reminder of the absence of children. Every single day and every single evening this silence shouts this absence to the very core of one’s existence.
Yes there are some communities where children can play with a reasonable level of security but generally no. Many, parents simply refuse to take a chance with their children’s lives and keep them close and within hearing and seeing distance even in the so called gated and secured communities.
There are the various recreational parks and reserves that are set aside and guarded but again, generally no, to dangerous and even on many farms and rural communities these same cautions are employed and sometimes to no avail.
Parks and playgrounds as we know them are completely out of the question though they may be found but in less and less of these communities and then usually within gated communities.
City parks, the same, to dangerous, unkempt and throughout South Africa too unsanitary from the litter and trash and human waste left behind.
And again, yes there are exceptions to these rules but those parks that people will visit do so in large groups for security or in attendance of some activity like music festivals. Rarely if ever, do families go to parks for an outing like we do.
As time went on my ears and eyes longed to hear these sounds so frighteningly removed from these South African communities from what we know and enjoy and take for granted here in the USA with our own children. It was a constant reminder of the impending death of a culture.
There was a time when this was not so. South African cities boasted some of the most secure and finest recreational parks in the world. Places of beauty and gardens that takes the breath always so beautiful they once were. I still sigh as I remember.
Remember these things the next time you are awakened by children at play or the next time you stroll through a park or stand outside in your yard, wonder, just for a moment, wonder the tragedy of the absence of the sounds of children at play.
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.