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Monthly Archives: April 2008

By Roald Dahl

The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rate and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.

————

My, my, this has got to be one of my best poems of all time. 😀

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As as a matter of principle and practice, I do not usually republish my pieces published elsewhere in my blog. However, I will make an exception for this particular opinion from the Daily Nation of Friday 11th April 2008. So here goes:

THE 14th US CHIEF JUSTICE, Earl Warren, was quoted by Sports Illustrated in 1968 as saying: “I always turn to the sports pages first, which records people’s accomplishments. The front page has nothing but man’s failures.”

Of late, with the political temperatures in the country at fever pitch, I have come to a new appreciation of both the quote, and the truth in it.

And after paying closer attention to the back pages of the papers, I was pleasantly surprised to note  that a great deal is happening in the world of sports. But, naturally, these have been eclipsed by the cat-and-mouse game played by politicians as they figure out how best to run our country down. It is as though they have not already done us the worst possible damage with their two month-long blame game.

In fact, I now hold the view that even if the Cabinet issue is finally resolved, it won’t be too long before they find something else to disagree on with equal gusto.

You will be amazed at the tomes of useful information tucked away in the last pages of newspapers.

Believe it or not, the much derided Kenya Football Federation may be making more progress than our Government has done in the last four months.

The Kenya Premier League matches are now being beamed live to a continental audience thanks to a unique partnership with continental pay-TV channel, Multichoice. This will be on for the next four years, at the end of which, the standard of Kenyan football is expected to be much higher than it is today.

CLUBS ARE EARNING MONEY OUT  of the deal, and locally, football is now going professional. Coaches, players and fans are all upbeat about this development and the only reason why it probably didn’t make headlines is because we were all transfixed on the words ‘‘stalemate’’, ‘‘collapse’’, and their respective derivatives.

Kenya’s rugby has never been better. The Bamburi Rugby Super Series just ended a very successful run last weekend with the Lions franchise taking home the crown.

Not that it wasn’t contested; it was bitterly fought over. The newly-formed Nguvu Sharks side that brought together Nairobi-based universities posted  an impressive showing to emerge third overall. Now, that is what I call achievement.

Internationally, the Kenyan seven-a-side team made great showings at both the Hong Kong and Adelaide outings. They fought gallantly, taking some deep bites and cuts and giving a few of their own in games that were certainly entertaining.

It is for all of these reasons that the whole idea that President Kibaki and Prime Minister-designate Raila Odinga are unable to agree on a Cabinet appears like pure balderdash.

After having hammered out the more contentious National Accord that ushered in peace, the small matter of who gets appointed to help in healing this country should be a walk in the park.

At times like these, calls like those appearing on Facebook to privatise government are not only plausible, they may even turn out to be desirable.