Ever since Patrick Senyonjjo, mostly known by his music stage name Fresh Kid, shot to the limelight, several people have weighed in on what should be done to ensure the best outcomes for him.
Journalists have weighed in, socialites who masquerade as pseudo intellectuals have weighed in and a whole Government minister seemed to shift the attention of an entire ministry to fresh kid for about three consecutive weeks.
It seemed as though the only good thing that was going on for about three weeks at the ministry was Fresh Kid. However, we have mostly dealt with Fresh Kid the exact way we deal with natural disasters. Just like with disasters, we have not only manifested ill preparedness to handle him but also, the absence of competent and relevant expertise and institutions to deal with him.
And yet, if successfully guided and nurtured, Fresh Kid may prove to be of superior economic and sounder tourism potential than the laughable Rolex project and the Miss curvy pageant combined.
As a society, we have persistently remained glued onto our archaic perceptions of a distinctive life course, which typically entails childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Fresh Kid’s crime has been to simultaneously manifest dispositions from the three life courses, albeit an uncharacteristically greater leaning to adulthood.
In fact, Fresh Kid has exhibited a more mature demeanor than some adults I know. A supposedly seven-year old Fresh Kid has experienced a series of interesting, damaging, shocking, stressful, inspiring and traumatizing events in a period of just about three months that he already merits a bestselling memoir or biography.
At a tender age of seven, he has been interviewed, cross-examined, publically investigated and gruesomely interrogated by a government minister. At a tender age of seven, he has held press conferences and has been photographed and video recorded countless times.
He has also certainly earned money that he had turned into his parents’ funder. He has been heavily applauded, praised, rated, encouraged and admired by several people. Given the nature of the entertainment industry, he has probably witnessed some nightly vices such as drunkenness, drug abuse, nudity, obscenity, vulgarity, violence and hooliganism.
Arguably, he has of late been the most unanimously liked celebrity in Uganda. Despite Fresh Kid’s exposure to adulthood, those who have masqueraded as well wishers, self- styled custodians of children’s rights and pseudo philanthropists seem to think that Fresh Kid’s only problem is lack of school fees and that placing him in a school for free is the ultimate solution.
In addition to living in the wrong era and space, another salient problem that Fresh Kid is facing relates to his social class. Because he comes from a relatively underprivileged family, whoever wants him can massage their heavily inflated ego by summoning him and tasking him to answer all sorts of intrusive, painful, irrelevant, ridiculous, authoritative, paternalistic and condescending questions.
Fresh Kid wouldn’t have been ao accessible and no parent with a privileged social standing would allow their son to undergo several gruesome and mostly pointless interrogations. Some questions have bordered on torture and bullying that he will be lucky to survive future post-traumatic disorder.
The bullying has even been extended to Fresh Kid’s parents. I developed goose pimples and missed two pulse bits when I watched a video, in which a government official with an exaggerated sense of self-importance, commanded Fresh Kid’s father to speak to his wife so she can stop conceiving since they are too poor to take care of their children
Therefore, Fresh Kid is not a child anymore and yet he is not yet a man. Any attempts to help him will require the wisdom of an experienced winnower who ensures that the grain is not thrown away together with the chaff. While we may assume the right to impose our warped views on Fresh Kid’s upbringing, we must constantly consider what matters to him after all he has gone through.
While we seek to protect him from the vices associated with late night entertainment, we need to remember that he has already been severally exposed. While we seek to forcefully send him to school, we also need to explain to him how formal schooling will enhance his music career in terms of ability to write his own music and sing in multiple languages, which will appeal to a bigger audience.
Lastly, as we use any coercive means against Fresh Kid, we need to always be mindful of Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The writer is a social critic and a social work practitioner in Alberta- Canada