Two Old African Proverbs: (1) A Child Belongs to Everyone (2) It Takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child


Do people know the day on which they are going to die? Do they wake up in the morning with a heightened sense of impending doom? Do they feel different in some way from the many other days of their lives? Do they feel more alert and more aware or maybe less alert and less aware?

Grandma Teresa awoke on the 7th of August and, like all the other days since her grandsons had come to live with her, she felt happy. She was a slight woman with frail bones, due not so much to old age as to a poor diet, accompanied by years of anorexia nervosa, when she was younger. She was what many would call a woman of lingering beauty. At fifty-nine she still looked ‘catwalk’ striking, yet gracefully fragile. What Grandma Teresa lacked in her physical body, she made up for in her strong will and determination to help people. Her life over the past fifty-nine years held painful and joyful memories. The death of two young children from drug and alcohol abuse and the incarceration of a third child were the cause of the many furrows on her face. This was closely followed by the squandering of her mass fortune by two of her five husbands and the death of her first husband, her first love, an honest, hard working man, whom she always regretted divorcing.

She could hear her grandsons and their friends talking in the adjacent room and smiled. Not only did she enjoy their company, for the first time in a long while she had people that took care of her. She had always taken care of people in the past. For years she gave and gave and people took and took from her without a thought for her. Now she had two boys that gave her love and companionship. Their gift of love and companionship blinded her to their lack of manners and respect towards other people. On a number of occasions, she had seen them misbehave and be extremely rude but it did not cause her much bother because their ill actions had not been directed at her. In her mind, as long as they respected and loved her, she gladly overlooked their faults and offered no correction. As long as their habitual rudeness and obnoxious behaviour was not directed at her, she lived in what some would call a happy state of denial, comfortably oblivious to the obvious. She heard a gentle knock on her door and told the person to come in.

“Good morning Grandma, here’s some coffee.” Gino, her thirteen-year-old grandson, the younger of the brothers, said as he placed the steaming mug down on her bedside table and smiled lovingly at her.

“Thank you, Gino. Have you had breakfast, honey?”

“Not yet. We’re all going over to Mickey’s house. We’ll get something on the way.”

“Okay then, I’ll see you both later. Make sure you and your brother take your jackets, it looks like it’s going to rain.”

“We will, Grandma. I love you. See you later.”

“I love you too, Gino.”

It was a school day but nothing was said about school. When the boys had first moved in with her, she had enrolled them in the middle and senior local schools and checked up on them often. She had been informed several times that the boys skipped school regularly, but she had chosen to ignore the schools and trust in her grandsons who told her the schools were lying. Now she didn’t bother checking up on them. She let them run wild and do whatever they wanted to do. All she wanted in return was their love and companionship.


The six boys left Grandma Teresa’s house and headed towards Mickey’s house. The eldest was sixteen and the youngest was eleven. As they planned their next robbery, people passing by would have been excused for thinking that they were just innocent boys, bored of school. In the midst of these six boys, evil was brewing. Had someone taken them to hand in the days before it had gotten to this point, then maybe lives could have been saved. No one did! Now, as they boisterously walked towards Mickey’s house, as they goofed around, as they intimidated other pedestrians, people saw them, but no one called the police to report the fact that juveniles were roaming the streets during school hours!


There are two popular old African proverbs that relate to children: A child belongs to everyone and It takes a whole village to raise a child properly. Here on the streets of California, these children belonged to no one, and the ‘villagers’ chose to look the other way.


Later that day residents of California would be left in complete shock. Newspapers would carry the headline: August 7th Killings. Two elderly people would be dead, brutally murdered by children who belonged to no one, children who had been ignored as they boisterously walked towards Mickey’s house, goofing around….


Taken from Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets





Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets



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