“As a grandfather, it pains me to hear the stories of girls who have married as children. The suffering of so many of God’s daughters bring me deep sorrow…”
Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu – Nobel Peace Prize winner
The Day of the African Child stems from the dark and dreadful days of Apartheid. The brutal and bestial uprisings of 16th June 1976 in Soweto, South Africa did not only shock the world, it also revealed how boundless the system was prepared to go, including massacre of children.
This year’s theme; “25 Years after the Adoption of the African Children’s Charter: Accelerating our Collective Efforts to End Child Marriage in Africa” reminds us that the continent’s children are still not out of the woods. They continue to endure violence, humiliations and other attendant ills like forced child marriages. We have to wake up and ensure that necessary and urgent steps are taken to eradicate these injurious, violence oriented, life-threatening and harmful socio-cultural practices and religious beliefs. Child marriage perpetuates poverty yet, we know that empowering girls is one of the most effective ways to improve the health and prosperity of societies.
In moving against such evils in society, opposition is bound to rise to slow our pace and to even prevent us from reaching our goals. Nevertheless, as Apartheid crumbled before our very eyes, so can these stinging and harmful practices.
Let us take and use this day to send a strong message around the continent and the world that child marriage is unacceptable.