From the Editor’s Keyboard

Remember the Day of the African Child

26 June 2010 at 00:13 | 239 views

By Edward Tedson Sesay, Guest Writer, London, UK.

South Africa is in the thick of great joy as the World Cup keeps everyone there smiling, cheering, drinking and celebrating. But the world, Africa, South Africa, and Soweto in particular will never forget June 16th. of every year since 1976.

The Day of the African Child is celebrated on June 16th. in recognition of the day when, in 1976, thousands of black school children in Soweto, South Africa, took to the streets to protest the inferior quality of their education and to demand their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot; and in the two weeks of protest that followed, more than 100 people were killed and more than 1,000 were injured.

To honour those killed and recognise the courage of all those who marched, the Day of the African Child has been celebrated on 16 June every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the then Organization of African Unity, now African Union.

The Day also draws attention to the lives of all African children today. People’s attention is drawn to the unfortunate stark realities of children who are trafficked, sexually exploited, physically and emotionally abused, and deprived in all shapes or forms.

Child focussed agencies such as UNICEF are keen to remind governments and their people of the need to ensure children are given the right to participate and to be seen and heard, and be guaranteed a life worth living.

The world’s attention is also drawn to the fact that Children have a better chance of thriving or meeting developmental milestones when their primary carers enjoy a reasonably good standard of living. In many parts of Africa, especially rural Africa, the primary carer is the woman. Unfortunately however, this is the individual who works hardest and longest, but eats the smallest and cheapest portion of food in the home. Besides, she also faces physical and emotional abuse on a regular basis. When this is the case, it cannot be denied that the woman’s functioning as a primary care giver will be largely compromised. The African child then suffers the double jeopardy of being born not only in a community that is deprived and pays little respect to children’s rights, but also one in which the primary carer (the mother) has slim chances of survival or being happy.

In our Sierra Leone, we should recognise the great responsibility that many of us have to enlighten the populace about Children’s and Women’s Rights and urging our social and political leaders to bid adieu to lip service and translate rhetoric into action by implementing international children’s and women’s rights laws and conventions. Only and only then can we guarantee our children a future with more cheerfulness and smiles and less tears and emotional bruises. While remembering and praying for all deprived children and abused mothers around the world to enjoy better life chances, I wish to particularly pray for Children and mothers in Sierra Leone to have a chance to pack all their sufferings in an old kit bag, throw them away, and smile, and smile and smile.

Editor’s Note: The above article was sent to us before the 16th of June at around the time this website was offline due to to circumstances beyond our control. We would like to use this opportunity to assure our numerous readers and friends that mechanisms are being put in place to avoid such problems in the future. Thank you for your support and encouragement. Stay blessed.