Like many other teen kids in the 1980s, there were many times when I took leave of my senses.
For example, as a 14-year-old, I borrowed (my wording) or stole (Dad’s wording) a Range Rover for a drive round the neighbourhood and crashed it through a wall, writing it off.
While the 1980s Dad was consumed with wondering if Teen Son was stealing his ride, rifling through his pockets looking for 10k to go buy kasese (crude local gin) or trying to score with Nanny, the 1980s Mum, on the other hand, was worrying about Teen Daughter – if she is still a virgin and hoping she does not get pregnant.
The 1980s Teen Kid was not allowed out of the house after dark, or to go clubbing or to a house party or to Alliance Française, then at the National Theatre, for the day. Today’s teen kids skate on the edge. They go out at night, smoke, drink and fondle Teen Girl at the shopping mall. They go through the front door and return in the morning like they own the house!
The 1980s Teen Kid, on the other hand, had to wait till the dead of night to break out of home through the bathroom window and slither over the perimeter wall like a thief. The following morning they would get back in the same way and before the household stirred.
For UK Teen Boy, parenting is a trick. Years ago when I moved into a flat in South London, I heard my neighbour’s barely teen boy shout at his mum: “You’re fu***ng full of s**t!” In our day, not even the hardest kid could use those words on our parents because it was asking for a Tsunami of beatings.
On other days, UK Teen Boy was breaking into neighbour’s house and stealing the DVD player to fund a drug habit or going to the next estate to steal a ride and take the police on a high-speed chase down the motorway. If he was not doing all that, then he was sitting outside a shop in the middle of town with his shirt off, getting blazed, peeing in the open and hurling abuses at passers-by. In the meantime, UK Teen Girl has ‘put out’. She had gotten pregnant, dropped out of school and had no future ahead of her.
Here, however angry our parents were with us, they never used the ‘F’ or ‘C’ word. Their swears were limited to mbuzi. And perhaps a tumbavu followed by the Tsunami beating with a bamboo rod that most dads kept under their beds.
We also did not go breaking into neighbour’s house for his VCR. We did not leave our homes in Bukoto and go to Mbuya to steal cars for a high-speed chase with the Police down Jinja Road.
And never would you find a Ugandan teen son sitting outside Uganda Bookshop with bottles of beer at lunchtime and getting blazed, throwing up and peeing against the wall of Christ the King Church while insulting passers-by.
And pregnant Teen Daughter?! Hell, Ugandan Parent would not hear of that! The whispers of shame would ripple through Bugos, Muyenga, Mutungo and beyond faster than it takes Usain Bolt to react to the starter’s gun.
Like the UK, Uganda does have moral social behaviour problems. While in 201, the British Metropolitan Police spent a staggering 12 billion British pounds combating the problem, in Uganda, the Police do not have that kind of money and even if they did, they are unlikely to go spending it on some hapless teenagers who have lost the plot, especially when they have ‘adult teens’ like Lukwago and Besigye and now a possible Tinye to contend with.