HI All,

If you were to be honest about it, we, in Zimbabwe, have a “Cushy life” – all we really have to worry about these days are the pot holes, bad driving and the rapidly falling dollar rate. Most of our kids attend quality schools and we are able to whisk them away for holidays in Kariba or Mozambique 3 times a year. There we teach them fun things like cooking, socialising and drinking.

What if, however, we woke up tomorrow to a Sudan type scenario with warlords fighting ridiculous battles and we were thrown out of our homes; we were separated from our loved ones; and our teenage children had to fend for themselves in the bush – sleeping under the stars; looking for edible berries; and, drinking muddy water? How, might I ask, does one prepare them for that? Outward Bound you might say

I was sent to boarding school (Gifford) in Bulawayo back in the late 60s when I was just 13. I was a skinny little nerd that everyone picked on. We were subjected to countless forms of initiation: like running the gauntlet through the seniors dorm with brutish guys hitting us with ropes and fists; we had our private parts covered in polish; we were bogwashed; we were lined up against the tennis court wall and pelted with sharp watermelon pieces; and, much more.

Sure I cried lots but was I permanently affected psychologically or physically? Certainly not. I am now in my 70s; compete in Half Ironman; and, run my own successful businesses. If anything the initiation helped me become more a man of the world.

If we were to look back in history it has always been a case of the older children teaching life skills to their younger siblings. In my mind, the best way to learn a skill is to be placed in a difficult situation and have to work out how to surmount the issue. We don’t grow our society if those in authority listen to every crying mother shouting out about her poor child being subject to the, normally, very basic type of initiation that we have now downsized to.

Make ‘em tough I say! Mike G.

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