In 1991, the world started celebrating the International Day of the African Child every June 16; as initiated by the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU).
The day is to recognise students, who, in 1976, took part in a peaceful demonstration to press for improved education in Soweto, South Africa. They also cried to be taught in their native language, Afrikaans.
Unfortunately, hundreds of these youngsters were gunned down by trigger-fingered policemen. A 13-year-old, Hector Pieterson, was prominent among the dead.
This day, African governments and stakeholders meet to discuss the rights of the African child, especially as related to his education.
The dream is to have a day when the African child will wake up to enjoy qualitative, free and compulsory education, amongst others.
It is 29 years since the death of these students occurred. They didn’t step out that day for selfish reasons; all they begged for was to be duly educated. They marched the streets because they wanted a kind of education that could give meaning to their dream.
29 years ago, these young boys and girls wanted their fathers and mothers, especially those in leadership positions to give them the same opportunity, if not better opportunities, to rise to be worthy leaders.
They wailed, they begged, they cried, but they were shot dead instead.
It’s been 29 years of wailing for the African child; he is still crying for the same reasons. He is wondering if 29 years should be considered too short to have his request considered and implemented.
The African child is still wondering why his leaders would climb up with the ladder, only to fold up the ladder from his top position, denying others from being able to reach his height.
He has regularly observed workshops being held by his leaders to discuss his future. He has read about the large sum of money being allocated for the fulfilment of his educational dreams.
He has been visited many times by government officials in his shanty, where he sits on the floor, or at best on a three-legged chair, with his books on his laps. They have come and gone, promising him a future with mere words of mouth.
To say that he is disappointed would be trying to paint his wailing heart in bright colours. If his leaders are not aware of the many hurts they have subjected him to, he is, actually, not surprised at that.
With his few years on earth, he could rightly conclude that those meant to pave the way for the realisation of his burning aspirations are men with cold hearts and cold feet. Dream freezers!
The African child is in a dilemma! He has a small voice, a tiny stature and unfortunately, weak-minded leaders. He cries to be loved. He longs to be listened to. He dreams to be educated.
He wants to stay healthy. He is tired of succumbing to every heap of nuisance in town. With his weighty dreams, he needs his elders to yield him their shoulders in support.
The year is 2020.
Today should be better, but for the African child, he wonders how Moses got the best of education in his time, while he is still struggling donkey years after.
Are things really getting better?
Not when he has read how Joseph, a teenage slave boy, had earlier risen through the ladder to become a Prime Minister in this same Egypt; an African country at that.
Did another Joseph not also take his family, made up of Mary and Jesus, to seek asylum in this same African nation?
Had Ethiopia not provided sound education for her children, the Ethiopian Finance Minister (Ethiopian Eunuch) would not have been able to read the scripture that eventually got him saved.
African nations are known to have provided sound education long before now. Educating our children came easily to us.
However, along the line, we started having leaders, who are comfortable with toying with the future, by providing directionless, irrelevant and selfish educational systems across Africa.
The voice of the blood of those innocent young students is still being heard across Africa. They, along with their living contemporaries, are still crying for attention.
They are not asking for the impossible. They are not asking for the moon, sun and stars. They are only asking to be given a pathway that leads to a glorious future.
They want financial budgets increased and deployed in their interest. They are asking to be recognised and respected as the future that they are.
Are you still insisting they are asking for too much?
God bless the African Child.
Picture credit: Wikipedia (Hector Pieterson being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo. His sister, Antoinette Sithole, runs beside them.
Original post gotten fromTHE BURNING BUSH BOY