Ban Tribal Marks On Kids Now!
Rearing a child from birth till adulthood comes with a lot of assumptions by the state which presumes that the parents would be of good character and would not harbour any ill will towards their own child as to bring deliberate harm upon him.
Borne out of these presumptions is the expectation that the parent would impart such good character on his child, albeit in symphony with school teachers and other sundry persons like relations, neighbors and religious bodies.
Also borne out of these presumptions is the expectation that a parent would feed his own child, house him, clothe him, educate him, and impart on him such morals with or without such religious indoctrinations as to make of him an adult that would be ultimately useful to self and society.
Of course the state expects that such child-rearing would be coloured and influenced by the cultures and traditions of the communities or societies of such parents.
The state also realizes that people generally hold dear to their cultures and traditions and would very much like to impart such on their impressionable kids... respect for the elderly, way and manner of greeting, ways of dressing, ornamentation, ceremonies, festivals.... Among traditional ceremonies would be initiations...into adulthood, groups, fraternities and cults....
So much has been said and written about harmful traditional practices like Female Genital Mutilation and obscene ones in Southern Africa where maidens are compelled to bare luscious and bouncy breasts in full public glare to the entire world lest they sand ostarcised by peers!
Male teenagers also undergo painful circumcisions by cutting of the prepuce of the penis under horridly septic conditions where knives are shared among countless boys! Many initiates die of hemorrhage, infection and neurogenic shock from the sheer pain...
While tribal groups are now more receptive of the fact that infant mortality is not caused by evil spirits, convulsions are not because suffers are possessed, twins are not of evil origins, widows may not be force-fed with bath waters from the corpses of dead husbands, tribal marks are still incised on the skins of infants in many parts of Africa!
Many recipients of these cutaneous markings have come to view them as grotesque, hugely-scarring and immensely-disfiguring as they evolve into adulthood considering the fact that tribal marks are mostly made on the face where they cannot be hidden by clothing!
Many wish their faces were never so disfigured by their own parents and that had they been allowed to become adults before being asked to be so marked, they would have refused!
Aside from the fact that these marks come on the face, their sheer permanence causes so much sadness and frustration to their bearers!
There was this patient of mine who became so obsessed with removal of such marks on his face back in those days when laser therapy was not so common...that I found the need to call in psychiatric consult!
Notwithstanding the fact that it is tempting to assume that a child may follow verbatim the ways of his parents, the sheer reality is that this is often not the case as many adults who bear tribal marks view them with intense shame!
They may change their religion but cannot so easily remove their deep facial markings!
And gone are the days of inter-tribal wars which compelled warring clans to so mark their men and women for easy identification! So why the obsession to retain this ugly practice...on infants who have no say in the matter but may actually revert to self-hate in adulthood!
Imagine not being able to look in the mirror!
An adult may to do to his skin....and his face....as he pleases but our kids must be spared this horror!
Dr Tosin Akindele is a medical practitioner and public affairs analyst.