Every generation comes with lifestyles anew because every generation has its own demands and needs. A few decades ago, raising children was best done with an iron hand. A parent who wielded the heaviest iron hand in a community was revered amongst members of that community for being a good disciplinarian.
The old adage, “spare the rod and spoil the child,” was taken literally. He who spared the child from whips of a cane was scorned upon for not raising his children uprightly. Such children were looked at as spoilt brutes even amongst their peers because their bottoms had never turned red-hot after being whacked furiously for making some silly mistake.
Times have since changed. Corporal punishment is today sneered upon rather than revered. The era of being celebrated for being tough and strict through publicly flogging your child is long gone. If one is seen (heavily) flogging a child today, he/she stands a better chance at hitting news headline before a corruption story. In fact, today corporal punishment has been outlawed in school. A teacher who would previously wield so much respect amongst his/her students for the former’s mastery of administering kiboko today has to find the most psychologically draining punishment for their student if that teacher is to wield any respect today.
As the art of administering kiboko becomes obsolete, parents and teachers alike are thinking up ingenious ways on how to keep children and pupils in check. One new method of punishment is the naughty corner. Rather than whack an offender until he/she shades (crocodile) tears, this punishment requires the offender to take a seat (or stand) in a designated secluded corner of a room/space where passing traffic has a clear view of the offender. Although not entirely new (I remember being asked to stand or kneel at assembly grounds under the baking sun years ago high school) there are new tricks to it that make it my most preferred mode of punishment.
Take for instance, I have two hyperactive nephews who rarely sit still and passionately love watching cartoons. Their naughty corner is one not in sight of the TV screen their eyes never grow tired of looking at. Asking them to go sit in that corner is the last thing they ever want hear because it weans them off their routine; cartoons and endless playtime. Nothing else seems to put them in check better than that naughty corner. Neither barking orders at them to desist from whatever they are doing nor does smacking them come close in effect.
Which begs me to think, don’t we need naughty corners for petty offenders of adult age? Numerous reports about the plight of overcrowded prisoners under incarceration in Uganda might become a thing of the past if we have public spaces gazetted to act as naughty corners. This would reduce the case backlog in the justice system and in effect reduce overcrowding in Uganda prisons and the vices that come with it.
One of the mostly abused vices in Uganda is trespassing on the green beds within cities. So much so that one can easily count the number of walkways erected by trespassers on the green beds in Kampala. The same cannot be said of signposts. Assuming KCCA designated the popular hangouts (trees) for kaloli (marabou storks) and asked each and every one caught trespassing to take a seat under a kaloli infested tree where it is certain he/she will be littered with bird poo in under ten minutes, how many trespassers would we have left after a few months of the penal ordinance?
Every other day, a story is run in the dailies about Ugandans caught driving under the influence of alcohol by traffic police. The offenders are taken into police custody, fined and released. What I find harrowing though, is the fact that the number of DUI cases do not seem to decline in spite of the daily kawunyemu operations by police. But what intrigues me is, the offenders do not want to appear on camera. Whenever news cameras turn to them, they hurl insults and light blows at the cameraman.
Therein lies the catch; government should gazette a naughty corner for drunk drivers at least in every township. A platform where those caught driving under the influence are paraded and left for the public’s viewing for at least 8 hours (which is a few hours within the mandated 48 hour maximum detention period without sentence) should be erected. Let the break of dawn find those Ugandans choosing to put the lives of others who did not partake in their merrymaking laid bare for all and sundry to sneer and scoff. If indeed they do not want to appear on TV cameras being arrested, I believe they will fill much worse being paraded, under the baking sun or even better heavy rain, as they nurse hangovers. Naughty corners might be the answer to some of the petty crimes amongst Ugandans (this in no way means DUI is a petty crime).