The Herald (Harare)

9 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Invaluable Advice for the Girl Child

Reading is the best habit any student can have. Developing a reading culture at a young age is imperative in this 21st century where one learns a lot about the current affairs hence making a foundation to become great leaders. Being a bookworm does not only keep one informed about general knowledge but also improves one's vocabulary and verbal skills. The language skills are enriched and one develops the ability to reason!

It is with that in mind that we decided to bring to the attention of all Cool Teens our very first book review.

This week we look closely at our internationally celebrated poet, musician and author Albert Nyathi. His book entitled "My Daughter", which is rich, takes counselling to a whole new level.

The book attempts to bridge the gap between a father and his daughter who he loves and wants the best of her.

"My book was written from a dad's point of view. Everyone needs a dad's love no matter their age. It is natural because if you analyse the way your grandparents view your parents, it does not matter how grown they are they will always be their parents' children," he said.

According to the author, every generation has a tendency of assuming the previous generation is tough on them. Although it might seem like this somehow the book by Mr Nyathi addresses this issue.

The book starts off with the father explaining that he does not have anything against his daughter and when he is giving instructions to her, it is only out of concern.

"My daughter, when I demand that you be home before dark every day, I, my daughter do not hate you dear. I am only trying to protect you . . . " reads the first page.

With the help of illustrations the father is addressing his daughter who listens attentively while sitting on a mat.

There is a reflection of our rich African tradition that promotes respect towards our elders. Careful analysis of the father's statement where he uses the word "demand" reflects the authority that parents use when they are advising their children.

In everyday life, out of concern, elders may seem harsh when they give orders or while disciplining children. This usually creates a "cold war" as teens assume they are being unfairly treated or hated.

The "father" in the book acknowledges the misconception and highlights that being harsh does not translate to hate.

The rest of the book uses figurative language to enlighten the dangers that he is trying to protect her from.

Because it was a rural set-up, the father highlights the dangers to be ". . . the jaws of drooling hyenas that feast in the dark, . . . hungry lions that silently eyeing you smacking their lips and ready to pounce on you, the crocodile whose mouths are wide open and ready to devour."

These examples indirectly state the dangers that await in the everyday life of young people. Since they are innocent and inexperienced, there are predators that are ready to rip them of their innocence.

The element of deception on the part of predators is also reflected in the example like the chameleon that is calculating but with a colour that is unknown, but in a quick flash an accurate tongue attacks a clueless victim.

"I am trying to protect you, dear from the proud peacock that love to show off bales of dollars and pound sterling notes to potential victims," reads another section.

This part especially applies in these times we are living in where young people have been led astray after being lured with money. Parents are aware of these dangers as they have been down the same road before. They have seen it all, despite the young generation's opinion that they are backward and do not know a thing. It is a case of "same story but different script" but they know vultures when they see one, no matter the generation difference.

A moment with the book "My Daughter" explains the parents' side of the story and how they cannot sit and watch children falling into a ditch. People may draw different teachings from it but it is highly educational.

It is also worth mentioning that the illustrations and drawings in the book were done by teens Andrew Mandaza (19) and Mthabiso Mpofu (18).

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