Chiefs declare war on technology

Chiefs declare war on technology

Local administrations in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State have raised concerns about mobile phone penetration in the areas adding that the gadget fuels immorality among the youth.

The chiefs argued that increased possession of mobile phones among school-going children is to blame for societal decay.

Mamer Deng Mathong, Majak village Chief disagreed with the decision of some parents to purchase mobile phones to their children.

“The children use their phones secretly at night to call each other while we (adults) are away,” he said.

Mathiang called for intervention to ensure that this behaviour is stopped to avert potential moral decadence such as teenage pregnancies.

“If the government could help us cut off this issue of phones and teh parties, by young children, it would support us in reducing cases of early pregnancy among teenagers,” he wondered.

“We (chiefs) do not have the power to issue that kind of order to abolish the cell phones of these children in the village,” he added.

Mathiang said the community leaders are dealing with a high prevalence of teenage pregnancies, which he said has overwhelmed the chiefs.

“What pains us a lot as community chiefs is that when a girl is impregnated by a teenage boy, the boy is put in prison and the girl is allowed to move around freely, although both of them are children,” he lamented.

“We believe that incarcerating both of these children is the only and best solution for us because they are young, and that is what we want,” he said.

The chiefs said abolishing cell phones would help stop teenagers from organising parties that are breeding grounds of immorality.

Oppose the move

The statement elicited mixed responses from students in Aweil town, who have partially supported the crackdown on such mobile phones.

For instance, Aleu Dhiu—a student at St. Maria Goretti Secondary School—sided with the chiefs, arguing that most of those who won such gadgets abuse their use. However, she maintained that banning the possession of the devices would not solve the issue of teenage pregnancies.  

“Some of these children use their phones on Facebook to post bad pictures and find boyfriends or girlfriends instead of using them for school,” he explained.

“In our modern world, we use phones for many things. Mobile phones do not cause pregnancy, and that is not their use. I come from another country and I use my phone to communicate with my family members back home,” Aleu added.

“I want to tell the chiefs that they are wrong, they cannot abolish the phones, and how they expect us to communicate.”

For Aloa Abiik who is a senior four student in the same school, the issue of possessing mobile phones is becoming a point of conflict between the tech-savvy generation and their parents, who have different views of consumption.

“Smartphones allow us to download books that our schools do not have, so the phones help us and not having a phone will not prevent me from meeting friends,” Abiik explained.

“We are now mature enough to avoid early pregnancy, and we cannot become pregnant as a result of holding a phone,” she said.