June 16 marked the Day of the African Child Day. Dating back to 1976, this date serves as a reminder of the many South African school-going children that lost their lives in the Soweto uprising against their education system. This was an anthem back then. When we were proud, when we knew the privileges of being African made. Now there is nothing to celebrate, we don’t feel at home anymore. Where has that all gone – what happened to the place we once called home?
For starters, 16 June 2020 was merely a normal day. The one-day that was set-aside for the African child to express and celebrate his/her heritage went unrecognised this year. We understand, in light of the whole novel coronavirus; no gatherings, but should that really be the hindrance in dedicating our day to us? The least we could have received was at least the theme for the year because “apparently”, there was a theme addressing the justice system towards children in Africa. What use and benefit is there to make a theme if the biggest stakeholders, the people it most affects don’t even know about it? So we have been robbed of our day as the children of Africa, a home they claim.
The streets of Africa are no longer safe. The staccato of gunshots is constantly heard with at most times, children falling victim. Weren’t we supposed to feel safe and protected at home? Violence towards children has become a friend in the eyes of society. Our rights are negligible in the eyes of our parents, and socially, they have every right to discipline us, they defend themselves, after all, we are Africans, raised by the rod they say. This is Africa, the home they claim.
Cries of the African girl have become a melody, we have learnt to dance to. Many have fallen prey to the hungry men that walk in our midst; they have fallen prey to their own fathers. They are left to take care of one of their own. The 16-year-old mothers, robbed of their futures are home, they claim.
In a world that cannot even define feminism, sexism has taken over. The mentality of girls over boys rules this continent now. Most programmes and scholarships are directed towards girls, leaving boys out. Isn’t home supposed to be where equal opportunities were considered? Not in Africa. Many boys grow up without a vision, and we blame them, not knowing that we crushed their dreams before they could even dream. This is Africa, home.
Home promises a better, loving tomorrow but, Africa has broken all these. There is no hope for a future in Natangwe who survives on the little from the garbage, nor is there any for Phuleng who was robbed of it by a rapist who never met his shame. To be honest, we all don’t believe in the better tomorrow promised to us by this “HOME”.
We are tired of looking over our shoulders every time we walk, tired of seeing broken families but, most of all we are tired of living in the lie that Africa is home. So what it houses us and feeds us? If it does not provide homage, it’s just a place. Fellow children of the soil, it is time, time to stand up and realize that until we do something about this, it will never change. Together we won’t feel like strangers to this place anymore. Together Africa can be home again.