ONE of the changes that a Tanzanian who come back home after been away for at least a decade would notice is the invasion of many open spaces, which were used as playing fields.
In the turn they have been used to build different structures, such as houses, kiosks and bars.
For many years we have heard strong complaints from parents, sports officials as well as politicians against this practice, who have again and again appeal to the government to take action to stop this cruelty.
But little has been done to protect publicly owned playing fields by stopping the invasion and defend the rights of children to have open spaces near their homes to play, stretch their muscles and make friends.
There is no argument that for a child playing is an important preparatory period during which a child makes progress through a universal set of stages to reach adulthood.
From this perspective, play becomes an important mechanism for development.
This encroachment by public and private bodies, as well as individual is a threat that will have a serious impact on our children.
With a rapid population growth which we experience, from 9 million when we became independent in 1961 to over 50 million people, the demand for housing definitely goes up every day.
While it is easy to look for places to put up either huge or small buildings, it is more difficult or not possible to create new playgrounds in many residential areas especially in towns.
We must not try to ignore the fact that the lack of open spaces has particular repercussions for children.
Rapid and unplanned urbanisation is taking a heavy toll on these small open spaces used by our children as areas of relaxation and making friends.
It is important to bear in mind that a child’s right to play is important for their ho-listic development.
We must make sure that we implement laws and policies related to protection of open spaces in our residential areas.
Commercial purposes should not be allowed to be an excuse to deny our children their rights to play near their homes.
This wave of invasion of playing fields being wiped out at a fast pace in different parts of our country has led some of our young children to quit sports.
Later they fall in the wrong hands when they join their elder brothers in gossip centres, in their areas who are involved in a very dangerous game using cocaine and other dangerous drugs.
The task of rehabilitating drug addicts is a herculean and very expensive exercise.
These children can easily be influenced to join this dangerous practice at a very young age and at the end of the day, destroy themselves and become hopeless and irresponsible citizens, who become a public nuisance and a burden to their families and the society.
We must act now.
The present trend in our society of exhibiting lack of understanding of what kids want, and a failure to continue with our tradition of having open spaces in our residential areas, will have a serious impact to our future generations.
A society of people who are active, disciplined and tolerant is in most cases, the product of most its adults become involved in different sports activities, because this has foundation in their tender ages.
Unless we act fast and promptly, we will continue to do injustice to our young ones by denying them the facilities of enjoying different games near their homes as we did when we were young.
We must stop being selfish and help our children enjoy their number one occupation of enjoy playing after studying while in tender ages.