By Aunt Liz
There is a popular African proverb that “He who swallows a complete coconut have absolute trust in his anus”, and I have been wondering if it originated from Tanzania. You see, Tanzanians knew who John Pombe Magufuli was even before they elected him, and they went on to elect him. So, why are people still chiding him for declaring that teenage mothers cannot continue their education? To begin with, the no-nonsense man’s words were not taken out of context. No. As a matter of fact, he has never minced his words – not even during his campaigns – and his party, CCM, has confirmed that he is just remaining true to his word. Inasmuch as I am a woman, I am taking up the cudgels for the man because his declaration is a manifestation of his appreciation of Tanzanian girls’ worth.
Simple reasoning, is there any sane woman who would like her daughter to be impregnated before completing her secondary education? No. Unless I’m wrong thinking that the criticisms are coming from the guys whom we refer to as “deadbeat fathers” in my country, all women whose daughters are yet to complete high school education should gather at the pinnacles of PSPF Twin Towers and make merry. In my view, Magufuli’s presidency has become the first in Africa to realize that girls have an equal chance to progress in the field of academia (rather than parent) as the boys.
Up until now, I have never subscribed to the argument that some pregnancies are accidental safe the rare rape cases. Honestly, which 21st century parent does not have sex talk with his or her daughter or son? It is good news to learn that some of our teens now use birth control when engaging in sex, because this means they know the risks associated with their actions. In other words, by engaging in unprotected sex, they have decided (either consciously or unconsciously) to get pregnant. By getting pregnant, they have chosen parenting over schooling and thus they should dedicate all their time tending their babies at home.
Another thing that the critics seem to be forgetting is that the law is very clear on underage sex, which is a form of indecent assault. If I were a Tanzanian mother, I would be lauding the president because he shut the escape route that “deadbeat fathers” would have used to keep on taking advantage of minors. He promised to come down hard on whoever lures a minor to go to bed with him. Truly, “if the throat can grant passage to a knife, the anus should wonder how to expel it.” The men who impregnate the girls deserve long jail terms during which they would harness their energies in doing something constructive while learning from their mistakes.
To all teen mothers, it is not doom and gloom for you after the verdict from the high office. Neither is this a death sentence for those with brains big enough to accommodate all that is there to be learnt in the country’s curricula. The desire to provide access to education for teen mothers is expressly mentioned in CCM’s manifesto, but the party has already stated that this agenda will be advanced through the Complementary Basic Education for Tanzania (Cobet). Even so, you owe it to yourself to abstain or engage in safe sex until you complete secondary education lest you anger your president.