Them youths got no discipline

Liz: Hi all this is Chris and Liz again from the FoRel project, which stands for Forum Theatre to enhance joint agency in Kenya and Mozambique: towards relational understandings of climate change. In more simple words, this project aims to put together Forum Theatre performances with people who live in coastal East and Southern Africa as a means to provide the space for them and their friends, neighbours, families, communities, to think about, act out, discuss, dispute, and maybe take action on the climatic, natural, social and economic changes happening around them, with them and/or through them. I’m Liz, a researcher supporting and learning in this project at the Stockholm Resilience Centre. And this is Mr Chris

Recording time!

Chris: Yea my name is Chris from Wildlife Conservation Society in Kenya, for the FoRel project, I am the research assistant. I’ve been involved in data collection, also transcription of the interviews that were done and also participated in coding and assisted in analysis of the findings.

 Liz: As we introduced this storytelling series before (check the first episode or post on the website) I won’t blab too much again, but just to say that these stories came naturally out of fieldwork that Chris led back in 2021 in Kwale county in Southern coastal Kenya. How many interviews did you end up doing again?

Chris: 67 with four focus group discussions. We managed to talk to Fishermen, Mama karangas (female smaller-scale fisher traders), Fish dealers, Food vendors, Shop traders, Boat operators and some community and local leaders. 

Liz: Great, so all of these people, from the interviews and the focus groups you were able to collect the conflicts,  challenges and the changes that are going to be and are being used in the Forum Theatre scripts.

So these little stories we are telling now, the Series is called Tales of Change from Kwale Coast, they are basically straight from participants mouths, I just changed around the structure a little bit. So in each story we have our 

  • Main character(s),
  • We have a little Background of the cause/the cause of the conflictual issue,
  • Then the conflict itself,
  • And then the Resolutions that different people suggested during the interviews and focus groups

Theatre training & discussions 2020

This story today is called “Them youth got no discipline”, it involves drug use, discipline, caning, morals and respect. It is a mix of the qualitative coding of these interview and focus group transcripts from Kwale involving generational, behavioural and traditional conflict codes as well as the social changes that people talked about.  

Our main characters are the young people of Kwale, both genders. So this problem with youth discipline, for me, is a tale as old as time, these generational tensions, I guess because it stems from human behaviour, social, familial, individual, how different generations view each other, so of course it will repeat through the ages. It’s interesting to hear how it’s articulated in different places and times, but it has been incorporated into the theatre scripts and will be given back to or performed back to the communities in question for them to discuss- right Chris?

Chris: Yes so far it’s very good, two scripts have been developed and been given to a professional theatre group, Matuga Arts Troupe and the other being the Mswambweni community group which has been trained by Matuga Arts to do Forum Theatre. They are now already have managed to do some performances for school going children. We are waiting to do a grand performance at the community level.  

Liz: Great! So you can take it away with our story

Chris: Wow this is super cool, as you have been informed by my friend Liz our story is called ”Them youth got no discipline”

“Whatever happens to the kids affects us all.” 

Background: Big changes are with the youth. The kids used to be taught morals and values which lead to positive living but this has become rare. Children have rights nowadays, there are human rights, they are not punished. Children can’t be caned anymore which means there is no punishment, so there is lack of discipline. Children can now sue you, this has afforded children freedom. So now parents can’t question and they are almost afraid. The government has contributed to this. When the hotels were built, the land changed and new behaviours arrived here. 

The conflict: Discipline has been reduced, this has a big impact. For example if you pass an old man carrying a big bag or luggage you should assist him, that’s what our culture entails, if you do wrong he has the right to punish you the youth, when the youth gets home his or her parents will punish them too, because of disrespecting the elder person. As a digo you assist him. Nowadays you can’t ask children things like where are you going, where have you been- they will abuse you, they will tell their parents and then the parents will abuse you too. You can’t discipline other parents’ children. Parents now lack respect too . In school they can also be abusive and nothing can be done. A teacher even had to transfer school due to the insult from a student. Children now lack morality, they engage in immorality. In the evening you can see children all over the beach using drugs and dressed inappropriately. The youth have changed as now they are involved in drugs (muguka leaves, smoking tobacco). Youth lack respect in this area, the drugs influence this. They loiter, they sit around in groups- what are they looking for? Maybe they have lied at home as to their whereabouts so this means children have outweighed their parents. It’s free time now, people are free, there is time for leisure earlier. There is idleness today, stealing and bad influences, this wasn’t in the past. Kids are spoiled. Children know more these days. 

Resolutions: The Government needs to stay out of home affairs. How will children’s behaviour be shaped if they cannot be caned or punished? The Government needs to go back to the drawing board. There is the government but there is also culture, the Government shouldn’t be going against certain cultural practises. Leaders need to take discipline matters seriously, the village chief and village elders should be on the front line of these matters. The situations must be handled in line with the law. We should agree with our responsibilities and solve conflicts with the law. Parents should straighten out their children and take responsibility for teaching no matter what. Take charge of their education programme if they are not doing well, cooperate with teachers. Don’t let children loose talk at home and particularly about their teachers. The drug sellers need to be barred from selling to those under 18. Organizations should be involved that can mentor our children with a view of making them collaborate with their parents to move forward in life. 

Listen here:

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Liz is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist with training in both the natural, social and behavioural sciences. Through qualitative and quantitative methods in conjunction with many years field-based research, her work essentially focuses on fisheries, seafood trade and markets in low-income countries, from a human wellbeing perspective. Her research covers: value chain dynamics, trade and food security, fishing behaviour/decision-making, market processes, social relations and coastal livelihood strategies, MPAs, Interventions. Through her professional career she has researched coastal fisheries in Ghana, Tanzania, Moçambique and the Philippines.

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