The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: For the Likes of Mubiru, I Would Rather Stay Poor

opinion

When The Red Pepper published the revolting pictures of soccer administrator Chris Mubiru apparently sodomising a young man, I could not help but wonder how that poor boy could have landed in Mubiru's hands.

It is one thing having sex with another adult and quit another, forcing a child into it. I will not delve much into homosexuality, since I am proudly opposed to the vice and, therefore, would not have anything sober to write about that topic; my axe is with the parents. Why do we parents easily trust people with our children?

Why do we have to let go of all our rights to nurturing our children in return for small favours like school fees, clothes, shelter, etc?

The Basoga have a saying that goes: "endovu teremererwa masanga gaayo" (an elephant can never fail to carry its own tusks) - if you brought a child into this world, then you can bring them up, however limited your resources. I would rather have my child wholesome, even with no education, than lose him/her to paedophiles in the hope of giving them a quick comfortable life.

Because of the increasingly difficult financial times we are faced with, many parents are more than willing to do anything to have their children lead a "better" life, even if that includes losing their custody. I have on several occasions come across little children slaving away as housemaids in people's homes in exchange for school fees and old clothes.

Children as young as ten are forced to cook, clean and wash for big families in exchange for as low as Shs 20,000 a month or nothing at all!

And because on occasions when these poor children visit their homes, they look cleaner, speak some English and probably wear plastic shoes, their parents are fooled into thinking they made the right choice for them. But the fact is that our children are being abused daily by the so-called elites of our society. Mubiru, because of his flamboyance, generosity and owing to the fact that he liked keeping the company of pastors, it was so easy for anyone to consider him an innocent philanthropist.

I can imagine many parents whose children are talented in football who must have been hoping for that miraculous day when their children would meet money-man Mubiru, probably hoping that that would give them a chance at professional football. But what is professional football with a shattered self-esteem?

When it comes to privileged families that live abroad, the story is even sadder. Some parents go to the extent of selling their property to get their children passports and visas so they can entrust them with this stranger who has promised to turn their lives around. That is how children are forced into illicit sex, drugs, evil religious practices and some are sold as slaves in addition to other acts I don't have to describe here.

And because in such a case the child has got the chance to get on a plane, the parents toss all caution to the wind and many times end up presenting their children to offenders just like that. True, there are some faithful education sponsors, but we must be extra careful when it comes to children. And the vigilance should extend to even university students and young graduates. We have many dreams for our children, but we don't have to kill them trying to push them up the social ladder.

Whether the so-called good Samaritan pretends to be so great with children, don't jump the gun. Being quite a likeable character, who always wears a smile, Mubiru could have easily fooled anyone into trusting him with their children. Yet that same friendly character would later turn on the little children, male or female, and force them into having sex with him.

Please be careful!

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