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Sheltered Childhood

When I was three
My world was free,
Exactly as it should be
Life was so happy and carefree
I had no worries, no frets
I was oblivious to any threats

I was watched and protected everywhere
I didn’t know about the dangers out there.
Fun and games were my agenda.
With Bob, James and Brenda
I was safe and sound;
I could play around.

From my beautiful home,
I had no need to roam,
I had food to nourish
Loving parents who cherish,
And a garden to play in, to my heart’s content,
And servants to mind me wherever I went.

By Mum and Dad, I was well looked after
Life was full of fun and laughter
Life was easier
in old Rhodesia
For the lucky few
(with a lighter hue)

Don’t misunderstand,
Life was indeed grand
It is right that we should not expose
Little ones to dangers or foes
Don’t get me wrong
I'm not complaining in this song.

Life in the bubble was perfect and great
With plenty of friends, I experienced no hate.
Then we grew up and the bubble was burst
It was more uncomfortable then than it was at first,
Instead of ‘the ideal’
We saw something more real.
Now older,
                 and wiser
The land was accursed with bloodshed, and hatred, and war,
Cruelty, abuse, racism and more.

I came across the picture on Facebook. It is a lovely heartwarming picture, but the context is important. It was taken in a Zimbabwean (or more accurately for the time, Rhodesian) city. You will note that the policeman is Black and the children are White. The comments under the picture were all about how wonderful life was back then and there was implied criticism that life is not wonderful now (which it isn't.) The thing is, the commenters were not necessarily as objective as they thought they were, because they were like those little children in the picture. White children in Rhodesia, like myself, (in general) had a cossetted and privileged existence. Yes there were poor Whites and some privileged Black children, but at that time, despite being a minority, because they were the "ruling class" - they were better off economically than the indigenous people, and the bulk of the government resources were channeled towards the Whites. The perception of the police was not the same for White children as it was for Black children who may well have witnessed policemen beating their parents with a sjambok and who possibly feared the police. I am writing about Rhodesia because that was my experience, but the same can be said of many people from privileged backgrounds who look back at the past with rose-tinted glasses and talk about the "good old days". I think many of us have selective memories that repress the negative and compare our present circumstances unfavourably with how things "used to be". However, this poem, is an effort to say, yes, life may have been good for you back then, but for many, life was NOT good.

You will note that the first five verses have 3 rhyming couplets, but the last verse has nine, less tidy lines.


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