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As a child of a liSwati woman, I want to remind many of us, who were raised through the philosophy of ‘ubuntu’, to re-evaluate the actions we take or fail to take as a generation and leaders of various institutions, in preserving and nurturing the culture of caring and compassion in our society.

We have cherished these values throughout our existence, despite poverty challenges. Our parents sacrificed so much to educate us and to make our country a better place; what happened?

The two major crises that we have all been ignoring for a very long time are alcohol and drug abuse.
These crises that we now face in terms of mothers, grandmothers and families suffering in the hands of their own children have been evolving over decades.

What has been missing is a national dialogue and an action plan that treats them as an unacceptable way of life in our culture, and a destructive force to human health and well-being. Most of us grew up in families where the culture of abusing alcohol and drugs was rampant.

Our parents grew up in an era where it was interpreted as harmless behavior. As children we were instructed to just look at it as ‘babe’ or ‘malume’ having a little too much fun. As a result, this culture has gone through more than one generation, ruining the lives of both young men and women in our society.

As a society we have shied away from criminalising the violence and other social damages an individual inflicts on other people. Families have prevented the development of responsible attitudes and practices towards the alcohol and drug abuse culture by preferring to treat it as a dirty family secret, or as something to be left entirely in the hands of God.

The crises we face today tell us that we need to do more; otherwise we will not succeed in protecting the lives of women in our society, who are often prime targets of violence, or help the abusers themselves improve their lives.

Our system, unfortunately, still has very chauvinistic rules and outdated traditional practices and class biased interventions. In all families, rich or poor, an alcohol or drug abuser destroys lives, the dignity and the socio-economic well-being of those subjected to his or her behavior.

Unfortunately it has become apparent that mothers and grandmothers bear the brunt of this behaviour from their children or grandchildren. A society without principles and core values cannot claim to be part of the community of civilized nations who are engaged in various global programmes to make a contribution towards making noble social goals a reality for all groups of people around the world.

D Nxumalo 

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