Saturday last, 16th of June 2018 marked the Day of the African Child. This is a day set aside to commemorate the African Child which was initiated by the OAU. This day has its roots in that massacre perpetrated on children on June 16, 1976 when children in South Africa marched to protest their unwillingness to learn Afrikaans, the language of the oppressors.
In 1991 the Organization of African Unity – which is now the African Union – declared the day as the Day of the African Child. The theme for this year’s commemoration is ‘Leave No Child Behind for Africa’s Development’. It is forty-two years this year since this day was declared. It is quite relevant therefore to interrogate what is the state of the African child.
Governments and institutions in Africa should take time therefore to reflect on the reasons why this day is important; why it was declared, why it was initiated and what has been achieved ever since. Close to half a century since that day in South Africa, African children are still suffering some of the worst life conditions one could ever face.
Thousands of children are still out of school; thousands die of preventable diseases; thousands are forced to fight as child soldiers and many more face bleak futures as they have no skills, no education and no prospects of fulfilling their potentials. It is disheartening to observe that governments in many cases do not make children a priority.
Children are the future and any nation that does not prepare its children for their future has failed them and failed itself. For no nation can ever develop in the absence or to the exclusion of its youth. It is high time therefore that we, as African people, started making plans to ensure that every child has a good education, access to healthcare delivery, protection of rights and the opportunity to fulfill their potentials.
This should be a collective responsibility and everyone, government, public institutions, private companies and corporations, civil society, individual citizens, should join hands to salvage the African Child. The African child is our future, our legacy, our posterity. We must not continue to fail him/her.