From Street to School – Workshops

Celebrating the International Day of the African Child

June, 16 2021 by Jones K. Garbla

Essay by Jones K. Garbla, Liberia

The 16th of June every year was declared as the day of the African Child in 1991 in honor of those school kids that were murdered in Soweto, South Africa in 1976.

On the 16th of June 1976 about ten thousands black school children marched in their numbers demanding quality education and local language be taught in school, in the process thousands of them were killed and about hundreds were injured.

The children are the future of Africa!              

Why celebrate African Child Day, if that which happened years ago continue to happen in different form!!

The day of the African Child is celebrated annually since 1991 on the 16th of June every year.

The 16th of June every year was declared as the day of the African Child in 1991 in honor of those school kids that were murdered in Soweto, South Africa in 1976. On the 16th of June 1976 about ten thousands black school children marched in their numbers demanding quality education and local language be taught in school, in the process thousands of them were killed and about hundreds were injured.

The Organization of African Unity, now the African Union (A.U.) in 1991 declared the 16th of June every year as the Day of the African Child. But the question is why do we celebrate this day when millions of kids are deprive of quality education on the continent of Africa? Thousands of kids are deprive of food on a daily basis on the continent of Africa, while thousands of kids are abuse on a daily basis on the continent of Africa?

Why? do we celebrate this day when that which happened about years ago continue to happen on a daily basis in different form? Now, it’s time that we stand up with one voice to support and contribute to the mental, social, psychological, and physical development and wellbeing of every child on the continent of Africa.

African Child Day 2017
Student-Painting, International Day of the African Child 2017

Although, kids are not killed like what happened in South Africa in 1976 but kids on the continent of Africa are deprive of so many things that are inherent to them as a human person; that is the right to life, the right to freedom of speech, right to free moment. Unfortunately, children on the continent of Africa are deprive of quality education, food and even good sleeping place.

Painting titled: How we make our living

It is so unfortunate, that in some homes in Africa especially in Liberia children are used as source of income for their parents/guidance. For instance, some of the kids are deprive of going to school just to sell market. In some places, the kids are deprive of going to school all in the name of looking after their little sibling (s). Naturally, the right of children are violated on a daily basis because of how our African culture is structured.

Of recent, I walked the streets of Monrovia during school hours and what I noticed is that about 65% of the kids are on the streets selling during school hours, then I called one of the kid and asked him for his age, he told me that he’s 11 years but he’s not attending school at all. What came to my mind next was what will this child become in the future? Will he be of good use in the society, or he will just be as philosophers will say that there is a big difference for a thing to be and for something to exist. Philosophically, for a thing to be that means that thing is useful and can contribute to the society where he/she finds themselves. And for a thing to exist simply means that thing is just there but it’s of no use at all… So if this child ends up selling throughout his life and not sitting in the classroom at all, will be of no use to the African society; especially those issues we trying to solve intellectually. Emphatically no!

As Thomas Sankara says “The mind is the greatest weapon and if the mind is not well develop, then there’s no place for transformation”. If children on the continent of Africa are not given quality education, I tell you for sure Africa will remain the way she is… Because with a well develop mind innovation comes about. Every child on the continent of Africa should be entitle to free education. There’s a need for each state on the continent of Africa to pass a law that every child on the continent of Africa under the ages of eighteen are not allow to sell on streets, and if that child is found selling, the parents or guardians should  be arrested and send to prison for violating the right of that child.

Playing is a kind of learning
Playing is a trial to understand better, what’s otherwise frightening
Playing is opening minds
Playing trains solidarity
Playing teaches about ethics, empathy and art
Playing is all about alternatives, development and human rights
(Photo taken in 2015 at St Anthony, Monrovia)

Research has proven that Africa is the richest continent on the face of the earth; but the question is, why is it that Africa is the poorest continent in terms of development, with all our natural resources? The truth is that because our minds not are well developed, people from other parts of the world continue to come and give us little or nothing for our resources which worth billions of dollars. Now it’s time that we stand as one people and build the minds of the future leaders, because the children are the future. The fundamental rights of every child on the continent of Africa should be respected, because if their rights are respected as children it will help them grow mentally, psychologically, and emotionally. The day of the African Child should remind everyone of us that ‘Yes’ indeed forty-five (45) years ago thousands of African school children were murdered on the street of Soweto, South Africa just for asking their government for quality education and local language to be taught in their schools… Nowadays, although we are cognizant that the rights of everyone is to be respected but yet still we continue to abuse the rights of children on the continent of Africa!

There is a need that government all over the continent of Africa, demand that everyone on the continent has a bound duty that as long as you have a child, you’re to do everything possible to educate that child. No child in anyway should be used as a means of income. Parents are to take full responsibility of their children and are to provide all necessary thing that a child should have on the continent of Africa.

With these measures put in place, it will help both parents and guardians know their responsibility. Most especially knowing their role as parents. Every child on the continent of Africa are to be respected and value. The children are the future… Let’s do everything possible to give the children the best that we can give them as people of this great continent.

Africa is all that we have so let’s do everything possible to give the next generation the best, because if we do fail to develop the mind of the children who should take over from us, then we are leaving Mama Africa in doom…  

The Day of the African Child should remind us of these ills happening in our society and strive to bring an end to these ills. We all dream of a better Africa, but how can we have a better Africa if the future of Africa is not build? The children are the future so we are to do everything possible to give them the best; be it the state or the family, because if we fail for sure outsiders will come to enslave our children like the way our forefathers were enslaved years ago by the Europeans. As Thomas Sankara says mental slavery is the highest form of slavery and if the minds of the future leaders of Africa are not well develop, I tell you we will be doing more harm than good to our continent.

The children are the future of Africa!

Happy African Child day!!!!              


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