Ian Nkera Ford

Ian Nkera Ford is a Kampala based blogger

Growing up in an African home for many of us meant being caned on an almost daily basis. Kiboko was a lifestyle. For those who may not know, kiboko is Swahili for canes and caning. Kiboko rained for breakfast. Kiboko rained for lunch. And it rained again for dinner.

You were beaten for any little mischief. You were beaten for accidentally breaking a plate. You were beaten if they thought you laughed too loud.  You were beaten for everything, including breathing. To put it lightly, we ate canes in those days. Our African parents spoke one language. The cane! With you lying down, face down, buttocks up, begging for mercy.

Image the mighty you! Imagine the smart you! King of kings at your school! The Princess Royal at your school! And now most crudely deprived of your precious dignity at the cruel hands of your parents. Once the old man said: Lie down! there was no appeal. After that anything you said, was against you. The almighty father was assisted by the almighty mother, the other agent of terror.  There was no reprieve whatsoever.

Today’s kids are jokers! Grounded, they complain. That is nothing! In our days, the only ‘grounded’ we knew was a civil servant’s boot, planted on to your head as you rolled on the floor. Sometimes I think we were raised by militias from hell.

Even after getting your daily dosage of lashes, I do not think any of us ever thought of calling the police. What would the police have done? And where do you get the guts to go to the police? Oh boy, you would be told to look for a new accommodation on your way to the police. So you sat down humbly and nursed your wounds and waited for next instalment of kiboko.  

Just recently Mr. Frank Gashumba was in the news in Kampala for reportedly battering his 22-year-old TV presenter daughter, Sheilah Gasshumba. He was accused of domestic violence by some section of the public while another section of the same public cheered him on.

Does domestic violence even exist after a parent disciplines their child? It is their child. And they may choose to discipline the child whichever way they wish. In a parent’s eye, you always remain a child and maybe they can be excused for wilding the cane. Are we so sensitive today that kiboko raises alarm! Yet we grew up on kiboko diets all our lives with no problems?

But? Should a grown woman of 22 years be beaten by their parents? There should be limits, I believe. May be our parents should give a refresher course on how they did it.

It is a tricky one. Well, a parent still has the right to pump sense into their child’s head. If Sheilah went rogue, her dad had all the rights to fix it. But not through battering. Butt-whooping might be too excessive and indelicate for a mature woman like Sheila. We cannot casually brush off domestic violence in this age. As much as we come from a generation where our parents laid it to us proper, the right to discipline a child cannot be reduced to kiboko.