The core values that we hold as human beings are often rarely discarded. This entails values which were inculcated into us at a tender age and which more often than not have formed and played an instrumental role in guiding the way we rationalize things and our general cognitive thinking about the occurrences of our day to day lives.
Morality entails the determination of what is right or wrong. What is right or wrong varies from one individual to another hence there exists certain universal standards which are codified into laws and statutes and which cannot be derogated from. This curtails state of nature where there is lawlessness as what is right or wrong could alternatively trickle down to one’s personal preference and ideas and perceptions inherent in him if we existed in a society devoid of any laws thus unfettered by any restraints.
Kenya is a very diverse country with varying and distinct tribes. The debate pertaining to the balance between the various tribes has become finely ingrained in recent years. All the tribes possess their own cultures which are very close and proximate to them. The balance between upholding the rights of the rights of the child as provided for under the constitution, other complementary statutes and the cultural beliefs, ethos and values spawning from the various tribes is very delicate.
Often, the adherence to the law could be premised on several factors. Some communities are not only oblivious of the law, but they also do not know or have ample information pertaining to the enacted laws in the country. This could stem from where the communities are situate or from ignorance and the absolute disregard of the law. Another factor could be the firm belief that the cultural beliefs inherent in a certain community cannot be ousted by any other law.
Our constitution, 2010 recognizes the values and the cultures emanating from the various tribes or communities in Kenya. However, there are checks and balances and such cultural laws ought not to be arbitrary and repugnant to the sense of morality and justice. Article 2 (4) of the Constitution stipulates that any law, including customary law, that is inconsistent with this Constitution is void to the extent of the inconsistency, and any actor omission in contravention of this Constitution is invalid.
I am a firm proponent of inclusivity but most people who are often misled tend to act in absolute disregard of the law. In the Daily Nation newspaper, dated the 19th of February 2015, an article was published highlighting that a mother was massively distressed in Mombasa due to the fact that the security of her child was in jeopardy. This was predicated on the fact that the child was born with various deformities which based on the tribe in question implied that the child was an outcast and thus a curse and a sign of bad omen.
It was therefore very disconcerting to realize that even with the advent of the new Constitution, such old tendencies still recur as people still find it plausible to act unencumbered by the law hence following their often misguided cultural beliefs.
It would be my hope that some of this instances are transient but unfortunately, there are many cases which are have a striking semblance to the Mombasa case but they are barely documented or published hence alien to the general public.
There can only be change if there is heightened civic education and if the holders of such perceptions can be enlightened further. There is no any curse placed on a disabled child or a child with any manifest deformities. The children with such deformities are actually very gifted depicting various precocious tendencies from a very young age. Their proclivities which hail from their gifts are therefore never shared with the world when there is discrimination based on the cultural beliefs which are whimsical. The children cannot therefore live and lead a normal life as expected hence they rarely perform their full repertoire as expected.
It is therefore imperative that there be changes. This should ensure that there is a fine balance between what is wrong or right in the society and that people comprehensively understand that the law will always override any other cultural beliefs if they are proven to be capricious. The substantive law exists hence the changes vital are procedural. These will entail various stakeholders ranging from the governmental to civil societies and any other private stakeholders. There should be more education so that the cultural idiosyncrasies are completely dispensed with. The police should also be more vigilant and there should also be more executive curbs to ensure that people who want to facilitate such acts and baseless discrimination are effectively deterred from doing so.