It was Wednesday the 16th day of June 1976 which is exactly 45 years ago today. The place was South West Town popularly known as SOWETO in South Africa.
A while ago, the apartheid government of South Africa had passed a decree to impose Afrikaans (the Boer language) as the medium of instruction in half the subjects in middle school and high school. This malicious intentions from the oppressive apartheid government wasn’t far from what Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon did to the four Hebrews boys (Daniel, Hananiah, Michael and Azariah) when he tried to lure them into worshipping the idol gods of the Babylonians. As unfortunate as it might be, when someone wants to rule over you, he deludes you into believing that your language and culture is inferior thus the need to impose his language on you.
Nonetheless, black students perceived imposing Afrikaans on them as an insult because this was the language of the inhuman apartheid government.
That Wednesday morning, about 20,000 unarmed school students from all over Soweto marched towards Orlando soccer stadium where a peaceful rally had to take place. En route to the stadium, they were confronted by heavily armed police who upon a futile attempt to disperse the black students decided to fire life bullets.
That’s when hell broke loose. Although some students decided to run for their dear lives, some students retaliated by pelting the police with stones.
Even though the apartheid government never came clean to the number of students who were killed, it’s certain that more than 700 hundred students lost their dear lives. This extremely dreadful atrocity which is popularly known as SOWETO UPRISING saw the inception of a YOUTH DAY HOLIDAY in South Africa and 15 years later on 16th June 1991, Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) present day Africa Union (AU) initiated the International day of the African child in honor of the 700+ students who lost their dear lives during the Soweto uprising plus their colleagues who survived the massacre.
Apart from commemorating the Soweto uprising of 1976, the International day of the African child raises awareness of the dire needs that African children are facing to this day in quest for quality education.
With a new theme every year, this year’s theme of the International day of the African child is: 30 years after the adoption of the charter, accelerate the implementation of Agenda 2040 for an Africa fit for children. Agenda 2040 is a 25 years aspiration that consists of ten items. It was initiated by Africa Committee of Experts on Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACERWC) on 2016 with 2040 being the expected year of full achievement.
Among other things, the paramount objective of the agenda is to restore the dignity of the African child through assessing the achievements and challenges faced towards the effective implementation of the African Children’s Charter.
As we commemorate the international day of the African child for the 30th time, we must not forget the 2014 theme which was: child-friendly, quality, free, and compulsory education for all children in Africa.
Even though some countries have already attained quality, free and mandatory education, in most nations, this aspiration seems far-fetched. Needless to say, education aspiration must be attained by all means if we are serious about the attainment of all the ten 2040 aspirations coined by ACERWC.