9 year old on Facebook

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Child trafficking on Facebook

I just discovered that my 9 year old daughter is strongly massaging the interwebs like a pro. Not only that, she is right on Facebook, just like all of us. She is living large on social media since her mother introduced her to Skype. I knew this because in one of those Facebook notifications, one read – Elsie added you as her father, a request on my timeline.

At first my thoughts wandered. Just like any man, I started tracing, in my thoughts, any woman with my baby, who is now old enough to be in Facebook. Again my record, since Elsie’s birth, 9 years ago, is quite spotless and admirable.

Then I thought of my Elsie, in disbelief. You don’t expect a 9 year old to be on Facebook, do you? IG is justified, she can post photos of her little or so life. IG is hassle less.

I stalked her, her photos, friends and timeline. She got fake photos, of a much older girl. I mean what such a kid could write on her timeline. What I found was just flat. Some of her status updates read- good morning Africa, good morning friends. Her friends amounted close to 500. Mostly men, Indian men. Those perverts masquerading on social media, sending nudes and asking if you can have sex chats, men calling men for sex chats and women likewise. Spoilt brats.

This really disturbs my conscience. The whole day drags along casually. And I, the casualty of my thoughts, do nothing productive. In the evening when all my mates have left for home, I call baby mama to know what was going on.

‘Is it Elsie I saw on Facebook today?’

‘Oh yes!’

‘You kidding. How do you let a small kid wade in a maze so mature than her age and be cool with it?’

‘What do you mean? She is grown. She can do whatever she likes.’

‘Is that so? Grown and Doing what she likes? Why can’t she find her own house and do what she likes?’

That infuriates me so much.

‘Because she lives under you house, right?’

‘I thought we talked about this! That she stays low till she’s grown.’

‘I haven’t forgotten that. I am sure you didn’t see any photos of her up there.’

‘Even so it’s wrong….can I talk to her?’

‘Yes.’

Elsie, come, daddy’s on the phone. And then soft steps fill my ear.

‘Hey daddy!’

‘Hey love. Missing me?’

‘So much daddy. When you coming?’

‘Soon than you think baby. Much soon.’

‘Will you bring me candy?’

(The hell candy!)

‘Of course. In all colours. And other surprises. How you doing in school?’

‘Going to grade 5. You should come see me graduate.’

‘That’s lovely. I promise to come baby…uhhm, so they teach you how to use social media?’

‘What’s that?’

‘Mmmhh, uuh, I meant Facebook.’

‘No, but my friends do.’

‘So you on Facebook, huh!’

‘Yeeess (belated), two weeks old.’

‘What? Two weeks and you have a bunch of 500 ugly men as friends?’

‘Have you been stalking me??? (Irked)’

‘Of course not baby. I am just concerned…’

‘Concerned and you call my friends ugly! (Seething anger)’

‘I am sorry honey, I didn’t say that. I wanted to say old.’

‘Old!!!? (Rolling eyes)’

‘And how do you manage living a fake life?’

‘The same way you manage living as Mzangila and not Justine.’

‘Come on, your mom gave me that name. It’s my name now.’

‘I know.’

‘What, you know? How?’

‘She told me.’

‘What else did she say about me baby?

(Her mum clears her throat in the background)

So she backs down.

‘Uuhm, What if the owner of those pictures on your wall catches you and reports you to Facebook?’

‘Can she? I mean like report me?’

‘Oh yeah, you’ll be in hot soup.’

‘Will they jail me?’

‘Yes, do you love jails?’

‘Hell, no! I hate them.’

‘Have you been there before? Like in jail?’

‘Noo….’

‘How do you know they are bad?’

‘Mom’s boyfriend….’

‘What! She got a boyfriend?’

‘Yes dad.’

‘One who is been to jail before?’

Another clearing of the throat.

***************************************************************

Also read: What do you wanna be when you grow up

‘And your friends, how come you don’t have any white friends?’

‘Coz my IP address reads Kenya.’

‘You did that?’

‘Yes,’

‘Who teaches you such ugly stuff!’

‘We have computer lessons, and coding classes. I attend some.’

‘You don’t want to be a doctor like your Mom?’

‘Doctors suck!’

‘Does your mom suck too?’’

‘Yeah, very much!’

‘And why you staying with her?’

‘Coz staying with you isn’t any better. Always glued to the books.’

‘C’mon, is that so! I changed.’

‘The same thing mum says and never is. Liars!’

‘And how about your lies?’

‘Which lies?’

‘That you are old as your dad. And that you edit all Mzangila’s articles.’

‘Grrrrrrh!’

‘Leave me alone…’

‘What!’

‘Leave me alone! (Shouting)’

‘Then get out Facebook right now. You hear me?’

And she hangs up. Lol. What a kid.

She later emails me – endless opportunities- something I still can’t get.

Also read:pan-africanism of the new day

She has opened a blog Elsieletters.wordpress.com, with one blog post so far, which I doubt she wrote. I really have no idea why she want to explore this world up here. It is a nasty world, one that exposes her to macabre stuff.

I thought of asking Facebook to pull it down, but then I thought would it be fair to her.  She can keep the blog, she has better English than I do, which is quite embarrassing.

Child trafficking has taken a new dimension. Child traffickers, just like Al- Shabaab recruiters, have discovered a new technique to perpetuate their ills. They now exist on social media, collecting information and using it to keep their game alive.

While you keep posting photos of your kids and hoping 1000 likes will make your life happier, another guy looking for a way to survive might not be in line with you. He is also chasing dreams, just like anybody, dreams to live a better life. Even if the dreams are built on the wrong foundation, they are better than sitting somewhere and passing time listening to Bob Marley, and chewing miraa, and smoking bhang and marijuana; doing what they call meditation, thinking that they will build empires out of illusions.

It may seem cool (nowadays so many things are so cool) posting a photo of you dropping your kid at Brickwoods School. Maybe you want to communicate to the world that you are a proud parent, one who takes responsibility of their kids. A concerned parent who takes her children to expensive schools not because they can afford, but because they want a bright future for them.

To a child trafficker, that information (photo of your kid and where she schools) is a business right under his nose. That is an easy prospect for his business. When he sees that photo, he sees his financial statement assertions fattening by 200k or even more, depending on the cargo or package (as they call it).

Check this out: Letter to those who think my wife is ugly

In the evening when you show up to pick your kid, she is nowhere to be found. She is gone.

That is why I am worried about my kid being on social media. It is something that I don’t do, showing her photos to the world. Not to anybody, until she can be able to come out in the world and declare her presence when she is grown.

Let us take care of our kids.

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About Mzangila

Mentor, media consultant, photographer, editor, poet, writer, and counselor.

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