A deposed Moses appropriates Midian and declares it independent of Egypt
Horemheb, the viscerally anti-Hebrew pharaoh, had two wives, Armenia, his first wife who died before he came to power, and Benretmut, a scion of the Thuthmosside dynasty. Neither of the two gave him an heir. With no legitimate heir in existence, Horemheb had no choice but to appoint Pa-Ramesses, an able administrator, as co-regent in the twilight days of his rule.
There were likely two principal reasons for this gesture. First, it was in order to reward Pa-Ramases for his fawning loyalty to him since days immemorial. Second, Pa-Ramses had the advantage of continuity: he had a son, Seti, and a grandson, both of whom went on to become pharaohs by turns. Thus the line of succession would be definite from the word go.
Horemheb finally died in 1135 BC at age 70, having ruled for 13 years. He was the last pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Pa-Ramses then succeeded as Ramesses I, marking the inception of the 19th Dynasty. The name Ramesses was a bow to the national god Marduk: it meant “Ra bore him”, Ra being a component of Amen-Ra, the name by which Marduk was known in Egypt.
Sadly, Ramesses too was getting on in years at the time and so shortly after taking the reins, he appointed Seti, who was in the prime of his life, as co-regent. Whilst Ramesses concentrated on domestic affairs, Seti dedicated himself to military ventures in foreign lands. Seti’s role was crucial as at the time Egypt’s status as an overarching military power was on the wane. The Hittian Kingdom of Asia Minor, today’s Turkey, had conquered today’s Syria, Lebanon, and parts of Canaan and was in fact poised to overrun central Canaan, which to date had been in Egypt’s sphere of influence.
On becoming Pharaoh, Ramesses chose Zaru as the place of his main residence at the expense of the national capital Thebes. If you recall, he had had the Hebrew-Hykso slaves construct him a magnificent home there. It was at this point that the whole of Egypt’s eastern delta region, called Goshen in the Bible, became known as the Land of Ramesses. Accordingly, in the Bible, the term Ramesses when employed (e.g. GENESIS 47:11 and EXODUS 12:37) refers not to the pharaoh but to the settlement. IT WAS AFTER THE ASCENDANCY OF RAMESSES TO THE THRONE THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ABOUT 40 YEARS, THE EXILED MOSES SET FOOT ONCE AGAIN IN THE LAND OF HIS BIRTH.
MOSES HEADS FOR MIDIAN
Let us at this juncture do a flashback to 1352 BC, when Moses was deposed as Pharaoh Akhenaten of Egypt. Although he was not officially banished from Egypt, Moses was obliged to flee Egypt as he was not hundred percent sure of his safety. Ideally, the place he should have headed to was Harran, in modern-day Turkey. Harran was apt in that not only was it the place of his ancestry but it was the major domicile of the Hykso-Hebrews. There, the Hykso-Hebrews abounded more than in any other place on the globe, including Canaan.
The problem was that Harran now was part of the Hittian Kingdom and since the Kingdom was a rival to Egypt, it would not be in position to welcome an ex-pharaoh of Egypt. Also, if Moses were to go to any jurisdiction that was anti-Egypt, the Theban priesthood would have a field day denouncing him as a sellout from birth, being a Hykso-Hebrew on his mother’s side. The Egyptian populace would no longer look to him with a yearning but would cast him as a pet-hate – a traitor who had just bared his true colours. As such, Moses decided to go to a place which though autonomous in the greater scheme of things still was part of and subject to Egypt. This was Midian.
The Midian territory encompasses today’s western Saudi Arabia, southern Jordan, southern Israel, and the Sinai Peninsula. Its politics at the time is not clear-cut. What we know is that the Midianites were the descendents of Midian, the fourth son of Keturah, Abraham’s second Hebrew wife (GENESIS 25:1-2). The vast territory was only very sparsely populated in the 14th century BC: it was not until the 8th-7th century BC that it was extensively settled.
The territory was directly overseen by a native High Priest known as Jethro. It seemed when Egypt concurred it (when that happened is not clear), a local High Priest was installed as its ruler to give the impression to its inhabitants that it by and large still was sovereign. Indeed, Egypt neither had a garrison there nor its own resident governor. But the territory still fell under the aegis of the Egyptian government anyway. Two Egyptian officials were in charge of Midian.
They were the Royal Messenger in Foreign Lands (Secretary of State/Foreign Affairs Minister in today’s terms) and the Royal Chancellor (Finance Minister/Treasury Secretary/Chancellor of the Exchequer in today’s terms). The latter was only involved because he oversaw activities in respect of the highly lucrative turquoise mining operations in the Sinai Mountains.
When Moses was pharaoh, the foreign affairs minister was an official known as Neby, who was at once troop commander, mayor of Zaru, steward of the womenfolk who attended to the queen, and baptising priest in the Aten Temple at Armana. The finance minister was Panehesy. His was a hereditary portfolio, set aside for only the Panehesy clan since the time of Amenhotep III, Moses’ father. Panehesy was also chief priest of the temple of Armana. The Panehesy of Moses’ time was a third-generation Panehesy.
When he departed Egypt for Midian, Moses was approximately 40 years old. He was accompanied by Panehesy and his (Moses) second wife Miriam, a half-sister and mother to Tutankhamen. HE ALSO CARRIED WITH HIM HIS PHARAONIC SYMBOL OF AUTHORITY, TO UNDERLINE BOTH HIS PROTESTATION AT BEING FORCED TO ABDICATE AND HIS PEDIGREE STILL AS A TOP-NOTCH ROYAL WHEREVER HE WENT.
MINERAL WEALTH GALORE IN MIDIAN TERRITORY
The Sinai Peninsula was a significant, though not crucial part of the Egyptian economy by virtue of its mineral resource riches. The southwestern parts of Sinai abounded with copper, bluish lapis lazuli, the blue-green gemstone turquoise, and the bluish-green mineral malachite. The particular places at which mining was done were today’s Wadi Magharah (the Wadi of Caves) and another which is today known as Serabit-el-Khadim. Turquoise for one was being mined in the Sinai Peninsula as early as Sumerian times in what has been described as “one of the world's first important hard-rock mining operations."
These ancient mining ventures were in evidence as recently as the 70s. In a 1972 article titled SINAI OPERATIONS: 1962-1972, which was published in an authoritative scholarly journal, Beno Rothenberg wrote: "We could establish the existence of a fairly large industrial metallurgical enterprise. There are copper mines, miners' camps, and copper smelting installations, spread from the western parts of southern Sinai to as far east as Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba."
Elat, called Etzion-Gaber in the Bible, was the “Pittsburg of the ancient world”. To its immediate north, at a place known as Timna, was what has been dubbed King Solomon’s Copper Mines. Once the ores had been extracted from Timna, they were taken to Elat for smelting and refining in "one of the largest, if not the largest, of metallurgical centers in existence in ancient times”.
The pioneers of the Sinai region’s mining operations, who in Sumerian times served the Anunnaki, were a specialised Semitic tribe known as Qenites, meaning “smiths” or “metallurgists”. They were descendants of the Cain of Genesis. The Qenites are mentioned even in the Bible as inhabitants of the southern Sinai. In the 7th century BC, Esarhaddon, the King of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, boasted that "upon Qanayah, King of Tilmun, I imposed tribute”. But the subjection of Qenites by foreign powers went back a long way.
As early as the 3rd millennium BC, the Qenites were fending off incursions by Egyptian pharaohs. The Egyptians initially were not after the subjugation of the Semitic Qenites as such but simply raided their mines in search of the minerals copper and turquoise in the main. Mafkat, the Egyptian word for turquoise, indeed stemmed from a Semitic verb which meant “to mine” or “extract by cutting”.
That was exactly how turquoise was obtained: tunnels were cut into the rocky sides of the Wadi canyon and miners went in to chisel out the metal. It was a back-breaking job which in Anunnaki times was restricted to humans imprisoned for life who toiled under the harsh supervision of the Qenites. Enkidu of THE LEGEND OF GILGAMESH fame was on his way to the mining belt of the Sinai to begin his life sentence for having destroyed Jehovah-Enlil’s highly prized fighter craft when he met with disaster.
The Sinai Peninsula came under Egyptian control during the 12th Dynasty (circa 1991-1782 BC), only to break loose in the post-Exodus period. Pharaoh Ramses III, who reigned in the century following the Exodus, recorded his invasion of these coppersmiths' dwellings and the plundering of the metallurgical center of Timna-Elat in this somewhat exaggerated statement: “I destroyed the people of Seir (Sinai), of the Tribes of the Shasu (Midianites).
I plundered their tents, their people's possessions, their cattle likewise, without number. They were pinioned and brought as captives, as tribute of Egypt. I gave them to the gods, as slaves into their temples. I sent forth my men to the Ancient Country (Midian), to the great copper mines which are in that place. Their galleys carried them; others on a land journey were upon their asses. It has not been heard before, since the reign of the Pharaohs began.
The mines were found abounding in copper; it was loaded by ten thousands into the galleys. They were sent forward to Egypt and arrived safely. It was carried and made into a heap under the palace balcony, in many bars of copper, a hundred thousand, being of the colour of gold of three refinings. I allowed all the people to see them, like wonders.”
MIDIAN RICH WITH FLORA AND A BIT OF FAUNA
When we read of the term Sinai Desert, the image that immediately comes to mind is that of sheer aridity – a rocky mountain mass and sand dune expanse. That is only partly true. The Sinai has its share of deep, canyon-like wadhis (seasonal watercourses), and naturally growing, climate-attuned floral species. The Sinai receives about 2 billion m2 of rainfall annually, only half of which is lost to evaporation.
Of the remainder of the rainfall, half flows on the surface as run-off, whilst the other half percolates to groundwater reservoirs, thus making it possible for cultivation to take place. Barley, fruits, market vegetables, dates, and olives do flourish there. Date palm groves for one are scattered throughout the whole peninsula. There are a thousand species of plants, many unique to the Sinai, varying from tall trees to tiny shrubs and which grow with impressive persistence.
The Sinai is home to over half a million Bedouins who rare livestock because nomadic grazing is possible in the peninsula. Animals are rare, but the species represented include ibex, gazelles, sand foxes, leopards, wildcats, jackals, hares, hedgehogs, and moles. Falcons and eagles are indigenous, and there are also seasonal migrants such as quail, partridge, and grouse.
According to climatologists, the Sinai of Moses’ day was even less arid than it is today and therefore more conducive to human habitation as well as to both arable and pastoral farming. One crop grown there those days was onion, which Egypt exported to the Mediterranean coast. But the agricultural mainstay was the date palm. Then, as today, it was the Sinai’s principal cash crop. It has multiple uses, which include the following: fruit; food (its kernels and pulp) for camels and goats; building as well as fuel (its trunk); roofing (its branches); and rope and weaving (its fibres).
The date fruits were a ubiquitous feature on the menu of the Anunnaki, the Old Testament gods, and demigods. This was likely because at least one species of the date palm was the Elixir of Life, or the Tree of Life, which was used to lengthen the lives of the Anunnaki and demigods, hence the Psalmist statement that, “the righteous l like a date palm shall flourish”. In Sumerian cylinder seal and clay tablets depictions, the date palm was equated to the Shem – the rocket – which was another symbol of eternal life.
Two Anunnaki astronauts were shown flanking the rocket or date palm interchangeably, as if to say it was on the plant they relied for their extraordinary longevity whilst here on Earth. When prophet Ezekiel envisioned the rebuilt Jerusalem temple during the Babylonian captivity, he saw it with either two date palms flanking an angel (an Anunnaki) or two angels flanking a date palm.
Acacias are the one tree in particular that thrive in parched conditions. Their tap roots reach deep into the subsurface moisture and therefore they can endure 10 years of rainlessness. Acacia wood was used in the construction of ancient temples. The famous Ark of the Covenant was made of acacia.
MOSES SETTLES AT MOUNT SERABIT
So when Moses headed for Midian after departing Egypt, he wasn’t destined for a classical wilderness: he was headed for a place that was reasonably inhabitable. If it were simply sheer desert, there was no way a man of his status – an ex-King accustomed to living in the lap of luxury – would have bothered to set up home there.
The exact place in the Sinai Peninsula Moses and his retinue set course for was a settlement known today as Serabit-el Khadim. This was at the foot of what the Bible calls Mount Horeb but which is today known as Mount Serabit. As we hinted above, this place was a mining hub of the Sinai, noted, in particular, for the mineral turquoise.
Serabit, however, was not merely of economic significance: it also was a holy place. At the peak of the mountain, about 2600 feet above sea level, was a temple dedicated to the Anunnaki goddess Hathor. Hathor, meaning “Falcon House”, was the Egyptian name for Ninmah, Enki’s step sister and Enlil’s half-sister. The term Falcon House was very fitting. Firstly, as indicated above, the Sinai Peninsula was a natural habitat for falcons, a type of bird.
Second, Sinai previously housed the Anunnaki spaceport (destroyed by Ninurta, Enlil’s eldest son, in a nuclear blitz in 2024 BC). Anunnaki astronauts were metaphorically referred to as falcons or eagles, both species of which were indigenous to the Sinai. And if you recall, the Sinai Peninsula, also known as Tilmun, was pre-the-atom-blast entrusted to Ninmah being a neutral area which was not supposed to be under Enkite or Enlilite jurisdiction during the first partition of the known world. Ninmah was also known as “Lady of the Sinai” or “Lady of the Mafkat”.
A team of pioneer explorers who toured Mount Serabit early in the 20th century found a statuette of Moses’ mother Tiye and pillars and stelae denoting the Egyptian kings through the ages. This is ample evidence that Serabit once served as Moses’ lair and he so decorated the temple as to remind himself and the worshippers of his royal pedigree.
MOSES MAKES UNILATERAL DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Arriving at Serabit, Moses was met by Lord Jethro, the High Priest of Midian who was a Qeninite by race. Although Moses was a deposed King, Jethro received him with all the protocol due to a King. The two colossuses jelled. ALMOST FROM THE VERY OUTSET, THEY CONTRIVED TO DECLARE MIDIAN INDEPENDENT OF EGYPT, WITH MOSES AS MIDIAN’S NEW KING. Two factors made such a scheme realisable.
First, Moses was a first-class military general and if Egyptian forces came after him, he would fight them to the death. If possible, he would ally with the Hittites, who were now the world power in the ascendant. Second, Moses’ own son Tutankhamen would soon be crowned Pharaoh of Egypt and there was no way he would incline to waging war against his own father. In any case, the Egyptian army was overseen by Moses’ uncle Ephraim. Even the incumbent, stop-gap Pharaoh, Aaron, would not countenance the notion of “training guns” on his own cousin, who was in fact more of a brother than a cousin to him. Blood always was thicker than water.
In order to further cement ties, Lord Jethro offered Moses his own daughter Zipporah. Moses’ marriage to Zipporah (not to the Ethiopian Tharbis as the Bible would have you believe as the Tharbis marriage was by this time a thing of the past) greatly incensed Miriam as it meant she was going to be relegated further down in the rankings of Moses’ spousal harem.
Even Aaron, when he heard that Moses had wedded Zipporah, was far from happy. However, Moses’ gesture made a great deal of political sense. The Midianites would not have readily welcomed him as their new King if he hadn’t taken the hand of one of their daughters. It turned out Moses had calculated right. None of his fellow Amarna Kings – Aaron, Tutankhamen, or Ephraim – confronted him militarily for the secession.
Even Horemheb was concerned more about preventing Moses from making a heroic comeback to Egypt than confront him head-on in a war of reclamation. The incumbent pharaoh Ramesses I also left Moses pretty much to his own devices but he was so heavy-handed in his persecution of the Hykso-Hebrews that Moses decided to return to Egypt. His main goal, however, was not to free his people from the pharaoh’s yoke: IT WAS TO RECLAIM THE THRONE OF EGYPT AND REUNITE EGYPT AND MIDIAN.
NEXT WEEK: CAN MOSES BOUNCE BACK AS KING OF EGYPT?
Villagers in the eastern Okavango region are now using an alert system which warns them when collared lions approach livestock areas. The new technology is now regarded as a panacea to the human/wildlife conflict in the area as it has reduced mass poisoning and killing of lions by farmers.
The technology is being implemented by an NGO, Community Living Among Wildlife Sustainably (CLAWS) within the five villages of Seronga, Gunutsoga, Eretsha, Beetsha and Gudigwa in the eastern part of the Okavango delta.
A Carnivore Ecologist from CLAWS, Dr Andrew Stein explained that around 2013, villagers in the eastern Okavango were having significant problems with losses of their cattle to predators specifically lions, so the villagers resorted to using poison and shooting the lions in order to reduce their numbers.
He highlighted that as a form of progressive intervention, they designed a programme to reduce the conflicts and promote coexistence. Another component of the programme is communal herding, introduced in 2018 to reduce the conflict by increasing efficiency whereby certified herders monitor livestock health and protect them from predators, allowing community members to engage in other livelihood activities knowing that their livestock are safe.
They are now two herds with 600 and 230 cattle respectively with plan to expand the programme to other neighbouring villages. Currently the programme is being piloted in Eretsha, one of the areas with most conflict incidences per year.
Dr Stein explained that they have developed the first of its kind alert system whereby when the lions get within three or five kilometers of a cattllepost or a homestead upon the five villages, then it will release an alert system going directly to the cellphones of individuals living within the affected area or community.
‘So, if a colored lion gets to about five kilometers of Eretsha village or any villagers in the Eretsha that has signed up for, the system will receive an SMS of the name of the lion and its distance to or from the village”, he stated. He added that this enables villagers to take preventative action to reduce conflicts before its starts.
Dr Stein noted that some respond by gathering their cattle and put them in a kraal or put them in an enclosure making sure that the enclosure is secure while some people will gather firewood and light small fires around edges of the kraal to prevent lions from coming closer and some when they receive the SMS they send their livestock to the neighbours alerting them about the presence of lions.
He noted that 125 people have signed to receive the alert system within Seronga, Eretsha, Beetsha, Gunutsoga and Gudigwa. He added that each homestead is about five people and this means more than 600 people immediately receive the messages about lions when they approach their villages. He also noted that last year they dispersed over 12 000 alerts, adding that this year is a bit higher as about 20 000 alerts have been sent so far across these villages.
Stein further noted that they have been significant changes in the behavior of the villagers as they are now tolerant to lions. “85 percent were happy with the SMS and people are becoming more tolerant with living with lions because they have more information to reduce the conflicts,” he stressed.
Stein noted that since the start of the programme in 2014 they have seen lion populations rebounds almost completely to a level before and they have not recorded cases of lion poisoning in the last three years which is commendable effort.
Monnaleso Sanga from Eretsha village applauded the programme by CLAWS noting that farmers in the area are benefiting through the alert system and take preventative measures to reduce human/lion conflict which has been persistent in the area. He added that numbers of cattle killed by lions have reduced immensely. He also admitted that they are now tolerant to lions and they no longer kill nor poison them.
A Muslim is supposed to be and should be a living example of the teachings of the Quran and the ‘Sunnah’ (the teachings and living examples of Prophet Muhammed (SAW – Peace be upon Him). We should follow these in all affairs, relations, and situations – starting with our relationship with our Lord, our own self, our family and the people around us. One of the distinguishing features of the (ideal) Muslim is his faith in Allah, and his conviction that whatever happens in the universe and whatever befalls him, only happens through the will and the decree of the Almighty Allah.
A Muslim should know and feel that he is in constant need of the help and support of Allah, no matter how much he may think he can do for himself. He has no choice in his life but to submit to the will of his Creator, worship Him, strive towards the Right Path and do good deeds. This will guide him to be righteous and upright in all his deeds, both in public and in private.
His attitude towards his body, mind and soul
The Muslim pays attention to his body’s physical, intellectual and spiritual needs. He takes good care of his body, promoting its good health and strength. He shouldn’t eat in excess; but he should eat enough to maintain his health and energy. Allah, The Exalted, Says “…Eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.” [Quran 7: 31]
The Muslim should keep away from alcohol and drugs. He should also try to exercise regularly to maintain his physical fitness. The Muslim also keeps his body and clothes clean, he bathes frequently. The Prophet placed a great emphasis on cleanliness and bathing. A Muslim is also concerned with his clothing and appearance but in accordance with the Islamic ideal of moderation, avoiding the extremes.
As for his intellectual care, the Muslim should take care of his mind by pursuing beneficial knowledge. It is his responsibility to seek knowledge whether it is religious or secular, so he may understand the nature and the essence of things. Allah Says: “…and say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” [Quran 20: 114
The Muslim should not forget that man is not only composed of a body and a mind, but that he also possesses a soul and a spirit. Therefore, the Muslim pays as much attention to his spiritual development as to his physical and intellectual development, in a balanced manner which ideally does not concentrate on one aspect to the detriment of others.
His attitude towards people
The Muslim must treat his parents with kindness and respect, compassion, politeness and deep gratitude. He recognizes their status and knows his duties towards them. Allah Says “And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) kindness unto parents…” [Quran 4: 36]
With his wife, the Muslim should exemplify good and kind treatment, intelligent handling, deep understanding of the nature and psychology of women, and proper fulfilment of his responsibilities and duties.
With his children, the Muslim is a parent who should understand his responsibility towards their good upbringing, showing them love and compassion, influence their Islamic development and giving them proper education, so that they become active and constructive elements in society, and a source of goodness for their parents, community, and society as a whole.
With his relatives, the Muslim maintains the ties of kinship and knows his duties towards them. He understands the high status given to relatives in Islam, which makes him keep in touch with them, no matter what the circumstances.
With his neighbours, the Muslim illustrates good treatment, kindness and consideration of others’ feelings and sensitivities. He turns a blind eye to his neighbour’s faults while taking care not to commit any such errors himself. The Muslim relationship with his wider circle of friends is based on love for the sake of Allah. He is loyal and does not betray them; he is sincere and does not cheat them; he is gentle, tolerant and forgiving; he is generous and he supplicates for them.
In his social relationships with all people, the Muslim should be well-mannered, modest and not arrogant. He should not envy others, fulfils his promises and is cheerful. He is patient and avoids slandering and uttering obscenities. He should not unjustly accuse others nor should he interfere in that which does not concern him. He refrains from gossiping, spreading slander and stirring up trouble – avoids false speech and suspicion. When he is entrusted with a secret, he keeps it. He respects his elders. He mixes with the best of people. He strives to reconcile between the Muslims. He visits the sick and attends funerals. He returns favours and is grateful for them. He calls others to Islam with wisdom, example and beautiful preaching. He should guide people to do good and always make things easy and not difficult.
The Muslim should be fair in his judgments, not a hypocrite, a sycophant or a show-off. He should not boast about his deeds and achievements. He should be straightforward and never devious or twisted, no matter the circumstances. He should be generous and not remind others of his gifts or favours. Wherever possible he relieves the burden of the debtor. He should be proud and not think of begging.
These are the standards by which the (ideal) Muslim is expected to structure his life on. Now how do I measure up and fit into all this? Can I honestly say that I really try to live by these ideals and principles; if not can I really call myself a true Muslim?
For the ease of writing this article I have made use of for want of a better word, the generic term ‘he’, ‘his’, ‘him’ and the ‘male’ gender, but it goes without saying that these standards apply equally to every female and male Muslim.
“Homicide and suicide kill almost 7000 children every year; one in four of all children are born to unmarried mothers, many of whom are children themselves…..children’s potential lost to spirit crushing poverty….children’s hearts lost in divorce and custody battles….children’s lives lost to abuse and violence, our society lost to itself, as we fail our children.” “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” (Quotation taken from a book written by Hillary Clinton).
These words may well apply to us here in Botswana; We are also experiencing a series of challenges in many spheres of development and endeavour but none as challenging as the long term effects of what is going to happen to our youth of today. One of the greatest challenges facing us as parents today is how to guide our youth to become the responsible adults that we wish them to be, tomorrow.
In Islam Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined upon the parents to take care of the moral and religious instruction of their children from the very beginning, otherwise they will be called to account for negligence on the Day of Judgement. Parents must inculcate God-consciousness in their children from an early age, whereby the children will gain an understanding of duty to The Creator.
The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: V6). This verse places the responsibility on the shoulders of the parents to ensure that training and guidance begin at home. The goal is to mould the child into a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behavior so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioral standards.
But what do we have instead? Believers of all Religious persuasions will agree that we have children growing up without parental guidance, a stable home environment, without role models, being brought up in surroundings that are not conducive to proper upbringing and moulding of well-adjusted children. These children are being brought up devoid of any parental guidance and increasingly the desperate situation of orphaned children having to raise their siblings (children raising children) because their parents have succumbed to the scourge of AIDS.
It is becoming common that more and more girls still in their schooling years are now falling pregnant, most of them unwanted, with the attendant responsibilities and difficulties.
Observe the many young ladies who are with children barely in their teens having illegitimate children. In the recent past there was a campaign focused on the ‘girl-child’; this campaign targeted this group of young females who had fallen pregnant and were now mothers. The situation is that the mother still being just a ‘child’ and not even having tasted adulthood, now has the onerous responsibility of raising her own child most of the time on her own because either the father has simply disappeared, refuses to takes responsibility, or in some cases not even known.
We cannot place the entire blame on these young mothers; as parents and society as a whole stand accused because we have shirked our responsibilities and worse still we ourselves are poor role models. The virtual breakdown of the extended family system and of the family unit in many homes means that there are no longer those safe havens of peace and tranquility that we once knew. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in this poisoned atmosphere?
Alcohol has become socially acceptable and is consumed by many of our youth and alarmingly they are now turning to drugs. Alcohol is becoming so acceptable that it is easily accessible even at home where some parents share drinks with their children or buying it for them. This is not confined only to low income families it is becoming prevalent amongst our youth across the board.
It is frightening to witness how our youth are being influenced by blatantly suggestive pop culture messages over television, music videos and other social media. Children who are not properly grounded in being able to make rational and informed decisions between what is right and what is wrong are easily swayed by this very powerful medium.
So what do we do as parents? We first have to lead by example; it is no longer the parental privilege to tell the child ‘do as I say not as I do’- that no longer works. The ball is in the court of every religious leader (not some of the charlatans who masquerade as religious leaders), true adherents and responsible parents. We cannot ignore the situation we have to take an active lead in guiding and moulding our youth for a better tomorrow.
In Islam Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “No father gives a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.” Children should be treated not as a burden, but a blessing and trust of Allah, and brought up with care and affection and taught proper responsibilities etiquettes and behaviour.
Even the Bible says; ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein’. (Mark 10:14-15)
The message is clear and needs to be taken by all of us: Parents let us rise to the occasion – we owe it to our children and their future.