When I was growing up back then on the hilly sides of Tabora, raising of a child was a community affair, and our parents taught us that respecting our elders should come naturally.
I remember those days with nostalgia, because even the elders, in one way or another, learned to respect the younger ones, and life by then was not complicated as it is right now.
It is with mixed feelings that I remember Father Leonardo, the Italian priest who was posted to our village and who took it as his birthright to discipline wayward children, and our parents were happy about it.
Those days, my tiny bare buttocks suffered intensely under the whip of the Italian who had crossed eyes, because unfortunately I was one of the naughtiest little creatures during my time.
When it happened that the priest was posted to another town, there were mixed reactions from different set groups, with us the children celebrating because our exposed butts were going to breathe a sigh of relief, while the parents were heartbroken because one of the strictest disciplinarian was leaving town.
Those were also the days when the juicy parts of any animal and birds were set aside for the man of the house, who was my father, and woe unto you if you became too wise and decided to munch any of it.
I remember there was a time when my mum decided to punish us because we had walloped a nosy kid from another village, and the punishment for me and my elder brother was going the night without food.
That day my dad was very late in getting back home, and our mum set aside his food on the table, which included cassava ugali, dried fish and some vegetables.
By the time we decided to go to bed, our little tummies were rumbling like a tiger that has gone for weeks without food, and when we made sure that our mum had gone to bed, we decided to venture back to the room where the food was.
For those who are familiar with this type of ugali, then they know that after some hours, the cooked ugali becomes hard and coated, so what we did was to turn it upside down and ate it from inside, leaving the hard top side part intact.
We did the same with the fish, eating one side of it and left the intact part facing up, and when our dad came back, he was shocked to find the ugali collapsing under his touch, and when he decided to attack the fish, he found one side bare.
All I can say is that the beating we received that day made all the thrashing we had received from father Leonardo look like caressing, and it took us three weeks before any of us could sit straight.
But that was back then, and the reason why I was referring to the good old days was because nowadays the young people we call our children lack that vital component of life, discipline.
You see, just the other day I came across several young men who were not raised properly by their parents, and instead of looking for descent and legal jobs, they decided to make it their business relieving people of their valuables.
That day I was coming from Zakayo’s Pub in the wee hours of morning, and the beer in me told me that it was still very early to take a shortcut in some section of Manzese which is notorious for harboring hardcore criminals.
The contraption I call my car, which is a collection of metal and petrol fumes behaved admirably until I took a corner where it is alleged that the den of the hoodlums is located, and that is when the engine coughed like an asthmatic patient and died.
I tried several times to restart it but it completely refused, and I was about to push it to a nearby petrol station when my foggy eyes saw some shadows moving towards me.
I thought two of them looked like women, but when they got closer, I realized my mistake, because they were men, hard men….with dreadlocks.
“Mzee unaenda wapi!?” asked a tall youth who apparently was their leader, and the voice was enough to make a veteran karate expert ran for cover.
I told them that I was heading home but the stupid car decided to take a break, and asked them if they could be kind enough to give me a push to the petrol station.
The tall fellow looked at me as if he was looking at a spoiled child, while his compatriots, they were five in number, were busy peeping inside the car as if they expected to find father Christmas hiding inside.
Before I could ask them what they were looking for, I saw four evil looking knives approaching my throat, and my thin legs lost all coordination and refused to cooperate.
They searched my pockets, turned my car inside out, opened the bonnet and removed the old battery, while two of them were giving it all their efforts trying to remove the tires without a car jack.
One of the young men who looked like a convicted Boko Haram member took out his phone and switched on his torch, leveling it on my face as if he was seeing it for the first time.
“Mwanangu huyu mdingi ni mshua wa Dog Killa!” he said, meaning that he was telling his fellow crooks that I happen to be the father of the thug I call my son, who calls himself Papa Dog Killa.
Whatever that boy does in Manzese is beyond my comprehension, because when they asked me if Dog Killa was indeed my son and I told them that indeed it was true, it took them a record time of 20 seconds to return everything they had taken from me, and as if that was not enough, they gave me a push to the petrol station.
“Mzee samahani sana, we are not ready to get on the wrong side of Dog Killa, and please don’t tell him anything, act as if nothing happened, because he might decide to come after us!” said the thin fellow.
When I reached home, I woke the boy up and gave him a very tight hug before heading to bed, leaving him confused.