Tafar’s Story – "The Boy Who Would Be King"

Tafar was born to an Africanized Canadian mother, Carol, who seemed to don the Rastafarian culture and prefer men of Afrique design. Carol initially had two children Tafar and Kwame. When Tafar was 2 years old his 6 month old brother died and it was judged that his mother, Carol was at fault for neglecting him.

A few weeks after I had started working at the treatment center, Tafar invited me to sit with him in the time out room. He asked me if I was married? If I had children? Where I was born? Did I have siblings?

With my responses he felt at ease. He told me of Albert the social worker who came to take him away from his mother. He told me of his memory of pausing at the elevator looking back at his grief stricken mother standing crying in the apartment doorway. He told me of the horrendous sexual abuse he suffered within 6 months of being placed in a state run child care agencies foster home. Of the many other instances of abuse that followed at the hands of others who should have been caring for him.

He told me when the voices started. The first voice was James and then later the others started. As he told his story, he would look as if from behind himself toward me to assess the impact of his words. I like to believe that he saw my care for him and my admiration of him for surviving with such a good nature. Tafar bonded with me in that padded room in a way that was more intense than any other experience I had ever had in the last 25 years of working with children.

He tested me and to my fortune, he felt me worthy of his trust. During the weeks, months and years that followed, I was a part of the compliment of skilled youth workers who cared for him and I learned so much about this awesome young man’s view of the world that I believe he has left his imprint on me that will last forever.

I met Carol and her 3 children born since Kwame’s death. Ojuku (who was then 12). Asai, a beautiful little girl who was 11 and the youngest Sipo, a boy who was her only child who was not bi-racial. Tafar was 15.

Carol spoke with an almost authentic Jamaican accent and she and all her children but for Tafar wore Rastafarian styled locks. She told stories that she was Jamaican born but a social worker confided in us that she was Canadian born and second generation raised in the state’s child care agency. When Kwame died, she was charged and sent to prison for 3 months. Shortly after her release Carol gave birth to Ojuku and the other children followed.

Carol and her children lived in community housing. They were poor. Living below subsistence level. When they would come to visit Tafar they hoarded food from the group home. They resented Tafar as they felt that he was doing so much better than they could. I felt for Carol and her children each was so special and even though I found Carol manipulating and sometimes unscrupulous, I felt as if somehow she was a victim of circumstances herself.

Kwame died in part because the system who raised Carol had not been able to prepare her for effective parenting. Her own sense of self was so thwarted that she could not find a place for herself within the mainstream Canadian community so she created a fictitious history and sought a place in a culture which both highlighted her differences and contributed to her and her family’s isolation.

While Tafar performed remarkably within the treatment setting, the child care system was at a loss as to what they could do for him when he turned 18. He was demitted from the treatment setting and placed in a community setting where there were far less supports and supervision. Tafar lost his temper one evening and when a staff member at the group home stood between him and the door he ran right through her injuring her and was charged and sent to a prison psychiatric unit where I believe he resides until today.

His Brother Ojuku became a hit man for a street level gang and he was sentenced to life in prison for assassinating an opponent at a gas station. I often wonder as to the fate of Asai and Sipo. They were all such beautiful children. Sipo was such a little gentleman. I shudder to think how they could have evolved since the last time I saw them.

On many levels Tafar’s story is a sad one but we need to see through the sadness to appreciate the real responsibility – Parenting. Through the gift of inspired and supported parenting, so many lives could have been evolved and enhanced to serve a community with integrity. This story is truthful in respects except for the names of the persons. Truly this story speaks to our understandings of the need for families to find the appropriate supports when they need them and the assurances to pursue enlightened parenting.

We remain so very grateful for this forum’s offer of an opportunity to share these sentiments with those who may find interest in these truths.

Helping good parents become better parents at http://www.coachingparents911.com