Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Teenage Social Disorder Meltdown

Like most teen kids in the 80s, there were many times when I took leave of my senses like as a 14-year old, I borrowed (my wording) or stole (Dads wording) Range Rover for a drive round the neighbourhood and crashed it through a wall. The Range was promptly written off.

While 80s Dad was consumed with wondering if Teen Son was stealing his ride, rifling through his pockets looking for 10k to go buy Kasese or trying to score with Nanny, 80s Mum on the other hand, was worrying about Teen Daughter – if she is still a virgin and hoping she doesn’t get pregnant.

80s Teen Kid was not allowed out of the house after dark, or to go clubbing or to a house party or to Alliance Françoise at National Theatre for the day. Meanwhile today’s teen kids skate on the edge. They go out at night, smoke, drink and fondle Teen Girl behind Nakumatt Oasis. They go home in the morning and through the front door like they own the house! 80s Teen Kid on the other hand, had to wait till the dead of the night to breakout of home through the bathroom window, slither over the boundary wall like a thief and the following morning get back in the same way and before the house woke up.

For UK Teen Boy, parenting is a trick. Years ago and when I moved into a flat in South London, I heard my neighbours barely teen boy shout at his mum and telling her: “Your fu***ng full of s**t! In our day not even the hardest kid could ever use those words on our parents because it was asking for a Tsunami of beatings.

If not, UK Teen Boy was breaking into Neighbours house and stealing the DVD player to fund a drug habit or going to the next estate to steal a ride to take the police on high speed chase down the motorway. If he is not doing all that, then he was sitting outside a shop in the middle of town with his shirt off, getting blazed, peeing in the open and fighting and hurling abuse at passersby. In the meantime, UK Teen Girl has ‘put out’, gotten herself pregnant, dropped out of school and has no future ahead of her.

Here, however angry our parents were with us, they never used the ‘F’ or ‘C’ word. Their swears were limited to ‘mbuzi.’ And perhaps a ‘tumbavu’ followed by the Tsunami beating with a bamboo rod that most dads kept under their beds.  We also didn’t go breaking into Neighbours house for his VCR. We didn’t leave our homes in Bukoto and go to Mbuya to steal cars for a high speed chase with police down Jinja Road. And never would you find Ugandan Teen Son sitting outside Uganda Bookshop with bottles of beer at lunchtime and getting blazed, throwing up and peeing against the wall of Christ The King Church while insulting passersby and fighting the cops trying to arrest him. And a pregnant Teen Daughter?! 

Hell, Ugandan Parent won’t hear of that for the whispers of shame would ripple through the neighbourhoods of Bugos, Muyenga, Mutungo and beyond faster than it would take Usain Bolt to react to the starters gun.


Like the UK, Uganda does have moral social behaviour problems. While in 2014 the British Metropolitan Police spent a staggering 12 billion British pounds combating the problem, in Uganda, the police do not have that kind of money and even if they did, they are unlikely to go spending it on some hapless teenagers who have lost the plot especially when then have ‘adult teens’ like Lukwago and Besigye and now a possible Tinye to contend with.