Africa celebrates ‘The Day of the African Child’ which is commemorated every 16th June of every year, all with the aim of bringing governments, communities and international institutions to renew their commitments for the needs of the African child. This year’s theme was focused on the rights of the children with disabilities.
Bill of Rights
In my opinion the African child lives in a landlocked manifesto coated with a bill of rights which is championed to free him / her from all oppression. Before you start hurling comments at me for starting off at a biased note, I would first like to commend the member states of the African union for focusing on the invisible child, the one with disabilities, since most cultures in Africa discriminate and stigmatize the disabled child and the wave tide of this issue is rising on a higher scale. The realities of the plight of the African child have not changed, and one day of celebration cannot stock all the demerits that under weigh the rights to a better life for the African child.
Issues affecting the African child cannot be tabled and done away with immediately because most governments are centered on well-groomed politicians to make good leaders and with every new election, new policies and advanced corruption strategies. Lately in our television screens hardly would a week go by before you hear a case of rape, child labor and murder of children by the guardians’ parents or member of the society. The post-election violence left many people homeless and the Internally displaced people have had to let their children live like grownups, having the duty of doing odd jobs so as to feed their families. Three weeks ago treasury released money for the free education which up to date has not yet been disbursed to schools and blame game is what the head teachers are doing, all in the name of providing quality education for the Kenyan child, yet my sources tell me that the same heads of schools take a share of the education fund to sustain their own personal projects.
Every politician who is looking for a top seat is busy chanting on legal democratic rights and beneath their heavy heaves and big words with the thrust of the microphone over their mouths, they stand before press and declare CHANGE. We want to have young leaders to change this country but our current leaders mock our ambitions in being the future leaders. We have a well decorated Children’s Act chapter 141 in the laws of Kenya that touches on all sections beginning with the safeguarding for the rights and welfare of the child, Parental responsibility, Children’s courts custody and maintenance, Guardianship etc… all this is what Kenya needs, but the output is hardly seen. Underage marriages among school going girls, many before their adolescence, remain a great stumbling block, F.G.M (female genital mutilation) is still being practiced in some communities, and there is hostile reception to the world for the Kenyan child who faces an even more bleak future; without adequate food, quality education and habitable shelter.
The Child Soldier
Child soldiers in Africa are not new to us, and up to half of the world’s child soldiers are in Africa, with an estimate of around 200,000 child soldiers living amongst us. We see the minds of men conjure up a scheme to desensitize children and turn them into ruthless killers. Children have been orphaned by Aids, violence and war and countries such as Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, DRC, Rwanda Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe depend on such children to fight the countries wars and at times the children used as shields, the African child soldier being as young as 7 years old. A while back in 2008 Kenyan male boys aged 10 years were among hundreds in western Kenya who were terrorized and forced to join military groups in the hope of securing land in the 370-square-mile (950-square-kilometer) for their families in the thick forests of Mount Elgon, where 166,000 people live in poor villages. Back then there were calls for the United States to suspend millions of dollars in aid and training to the Kenyan army, because it was believed that, that was how children were groomed to becoming soldiers.
Someone once said that Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate… the African child is still far from realizing his / her rights, especially the child living in the rural areas, and this subject is hugely ignored, and very well recognized in bill of rights, but like I say it is just a paper.