Thursday, 28 May 2009

Elf n' Safety

For all its faults, the Kenyan Government cannot be accused of running a nanny state.

If the British Health and Safety police came over here, they would have a heart attack.

During my stay here, I have seen 10 year-old kids wielding machetes with a skill that can only be acquired through years of practice. The same kids use hoes to break up the ground, but could also sever a foot with no problem.

Five year olds coming home from school on the back of motorcycle taxis; their feet cannot reach the footrests, but no matter. As for crash helmets – well, what are they?

Most households cook over charcoal burners and kerosene rings that are either placed outside in the yard or in the porch, where toddlers play.

Here, in Kisii, especially during the rainy season, it doesn’t matter how clean kids start out in the morning, within five minutes, they are muddy up to the knees, they sit in the mud, play in the mud. Chickens use the same mud for foraging, and at night, the neighbourhood dogs scavenge. Other wild animals also pass through the yards.

Amazingly, apart from minor bumps and scratches, which are shrugged off, I have not seen any of the kids I know hurt or injured.

They climb trees, play on waste ground strewn with rubbish, walk alongside fast-flowing rivers, but they survive.

It just makes me wonder where we in the UK are going with our rules and regulations that wrap up the citizens in cotton-wool in case they get hurt.

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