Is There Hope for The African Child?
The theme for this year African Child’s Day, was ‘All Together For Actions in Favor of Street Children’. This was targeted at some estimated 30million African street children and was celebrated all over the African continent. June 6 of every year is set aside by the African Union (AU) to commemorate the wanton massacre of some children in the street of Soweto, during the black days of Apartheid in South Africa on June 6, 1976. They were gruesomely murdered because they came out to demonstrate against the authority in order for them to be taught in their local language in their school. Thirty-four years on, the remembrance still continue, which goes to show the crucial nature of the day for Africa as a continent.
Across the length and breadth of the continent, various forums, ranging from conferences to public lectures were held and ‘sermons’ delivered from high platforms by different leaders with the recurring phrase ‘you are the leaders for tomorrow’ to the children. But I wonder how many of these African leaders have set the stage for these children to be the future leaders they alluded to in their speeches. Certainly their actions in reality do not support the message in their speeches.
The future of the African child currently is very bleak and scary. The face of the African child is that which is fraught with malnutrition, hunger, malaria, polio etc. Their condition has been that of a population that is ravaged by civil conflicts and orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Moreover, African children are the victims of child-trafficking racket mediated by barons/baronesses and, child-labor perpetuated by wicked relatives in the guise of giving a helping hand to their biological parents. Wherever the African child escapes any of the above evils, the child suffers from being stigmatized a witch. A situation that pushes the child to the street as no one is ready to harbor a witch-child and attract misfortunes that come with witchcraft practices. The African child is driven by civil conflicts to be the victim child-soldier who kills without remorse.
In the light of the above, the African has become an endangered species. Many children are roaming the streets looking for their daily bread from refuse dump sites scavenging to survive, while they ought to be in school. The estimated 30million children identified as street children in Africa, automatically lack access to basic education. What kind of future do our leaders expect them to pursue? What would they do to make ends meet other than to become delinquent children who will grow up to become harden criminals?
Nevertheless, there is still hope for the African child. The African child has a very bright future as his/her counterpart in the developed climes of this same globe they mutually inhabit. The bright future can only be realized when our leaders become responsible to the task of developing their economies, creating the enabling environment through good governance and crafting people-oriented policies cum programs that would help alleviate the suffering of the larger segment of the population who could not help themselves out of poverty. On the other hand, parents must live up to their responsibility. not only in terms of what they could provide for their children, but also they should be able to discern the number of children they could cater for before giving birth. This would help relieve the burden of child care which the least economically buoyant families are faced with.