WE COMMEND Chieftainess Kawaza of the Chewa people of Katete and Sinda districts for banning the use of children as cattle herders.
The chief has engaged her headmen and indunas to enforce the ban.
She wants all the small boys to be in school instead of herding cattle.
Adults should, instead, take over the responsibility and allow the boys to secure their future.
Speaking on her behalf to 32 village headmen in Katiula Ward on Tuesday, Induna Kabilima Gibson Phiri said it was important that cattle herding by children was banned as a way curbing illiteracy among the young generation.
This is commendable.
This is the role traditional leaders are expected to play instead of fighting political battles on behalf of their friends, business partners and relatives which have little benefit for their subjects.
Chieftainess Kawasa is a progressive traditional leader who is committed to the development of her chiefdom by fighting illiteracy.
Denying children access to education is condemning them and their unborn offspring to a lifetime of poverty.
This is because illiteracy limits a person’s choices for survival and self-improvement.
Induna Kabilima says the Kawaza chiefdom has many parents who are illiterate and are forcing their children into cattle herding and early marriages.
It is unfortunate that the parents do not see the benefits of education.
There are numerous role models in the communities such as teachers and heal workers who should inspire them into ensuring their children are in school.
We are happy that those who will be found defying or violating the ban will face punishment.
As the Induna Kabilima said it is unacceptable for parents send their children to herd cattle instead of securing their future.
We also commend the headmen for joining their chief’s initiative.
It is also commendable that Chieftainess Kawaza has warned of stern action against any parent who would force their under-age daughters or sons into early marriages when they are supposed to be in school.
The headmen should also ensure this scourge is eradicated.
It is not only a violation of the children’s right to education but also an obstacle to development.
An illiterate community will have limited options for responding to the socio-economic challenges facing them.
This is why both vices should be fought with vigor.
The headmen’s participation is critical because they are the ones who live with the erring parents in their villages.
Induna Kabilima says the village headmen in the chiefdom have also agreed to work towards ending child marriages and that those who had already facilitated such unions to break them immediately.
He warned that if the erring parents and guardians did not break under-aged marriages the chieftainess would break them by force so that the children could be given an opportunity to go back to school.
The parents would be punished.
Induna Kabilima also says those children who will refuse to go to school when their parents were ready to help them would be referred to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) so that they could be helped to understand the importance of school.
This is a progressive chief indeed who needs support from the government and the civil society operating in the area.