Today is the International Day of the African Child, a day celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity.
It honours those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness for the continued need for improvement of the education provided to African children.
Although the country has made great strides in terms of child welfare, a lot still needs to be done to make sure our children, the future of this nation, are insulated from harm.
Despite the strides made, too many children still fall victim to preventable ills. Child trafficking continues to ravage us. Child sexual exploitation continues to rob thousands off of their innocence with perpetrators getting away with it.
Our social protection services remain broken with many who end up within the few, poorly staffed and inadequately furnished homes run by the department of child services opting for the streets instead. Female Genital Mutilation, which is illegal, continues to ravage girls across different backgrounds. They are not safe in the dry plains of Samburu. Neither are they safe in the gated communities of Kilimani.
Education remains an unreachable dream for many African children. Ravaged by harsh economics, war and famine, education takes a back burner to current realities. In places like Meru, children substitute education for the quick money industry of miraa picking.
In Kilifi, they are compelled to provide labour in the salt pans. In resort cities such as Mombasa and Kisumu, child prostitution is rife. Even with all these odds stacked against them, disease too ravages them. If an African child survives birth, he is most likely to die from one of the three big child killers - malaria, diarrhoea, or pneumonia, yet it is on their shoulders that the future of not only states, but of mankind is placed.
As a nation we must be conscious of these challenges and address them. Not all the solutions will be provided by the government. We should start by doing what is right for our offspring. Let us be genuine guardians to their dreams and ambitions. This is the only way to secure our nation’s future.
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