What does the Day of the African Child mean to you?

Tariro Mlambo
Who is the African Child?
Since 1991 the Day of the African Child is celebrated on June 16 every year. When it was first initiated by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.
In Soweto, South Africa, on June 16, 1976, about ten thousand black school children marched in a column, more than half a mile long, protesting the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their native languages. Scores of young students were shot, the most famous being Hector Pieterson. More than a hundred people were massacred in the protests of the following two weeks, and more than a thousand were injured.
To me this day is there to remind all the children that people fought for our salvation and liberation from the foreign colonisation and apartheid in Africa. The day has different meanings to people as the communities were affected by different aspects like language, oppressive education system and apartheid. Furthermore it is commemorated to remember all the children that were killed on that day trying to fight for our liberation as the African children. I believe that children need a fair start, a chance to thrive and learn and experience a better life. Between 12 and 14 million African children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS and 64% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have adequate sanitation and this makes me feel that this day needs to be remembered. On the same note, children account for half of all civilian casualties in wars in Africa and 200 000 child slaves are sold every year in Africa. There are an estimated 8 000 girl-slaves in West Africa alone. All this being said there is action needed to save the African children.
This day is also there for me to thank all the states and nations that help in any way like food aid and free education to places that are in need. Country like Great Britain are thanked for the assistance in deploying of troops and handing out of food aid to Africa. I also feel special being celebrated as the African child and confidence is enhanced in me.
On June 16 every year, governments, NGOs, international organisations and other stakeholders gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the full realization of the rights of children Africa. For 2014, the theme chosen returns to the roots of the movement: quality, free, and compulsory education for all children in Africa. We have to unite and celebrate to remember all the children of Africa!