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5 Things to Know about June 16th – International Day of the African Child

Did you know today was the international Day of the African Child? If so, great! A lot of Cameroonians however are unaware, given the plethora of International Days, some undoubtedly get more recognition than others. Moreover given the popular media image of the African Child as a skeletal beggar with outstretched hands, people don’t like to hear of ‘yet another day’ to bring to media attention all our problems.

But that’s not what this day is about. With this post Better Breed Cameroon hopes to set the record straight. Here are 5 facts worth knowing when it comes to celebrating June 16th.

  1. The date- June 16 was chosen as the International Day of the African Child to commemorate the young heroes and heroines, students who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 for protesting against education injustice and inequality in the apartheid regime.
  2. This International Day is one of the few which have been designated by the African Union. While most International Days are designated by the UN or one of it’s bodies, June 16th, which is celebrated as South Africa’s Youth Day was made an International Day by the African Union as of 1991 by the African Union and every year events are organised to promote children’s rights.
  3. This year’s theme is Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights”.
  4. We might call her ‘Mother Africa’ but with over 200 million youth aged between 15 and 24, Africa is the continent of the child and has the youngest population in the world.
  5. The day of the African Child is not meant to entice international pity at the woes of African’s children. Yes we do have problems that need to be faced, needs that need satisfying, policies that need modifying. But today, when you think of the African child, celebrate our strength, perseverance and success against the odds.

Today is the day to let the world know that while we have a long way to go, we are not to be pitied. Africa’s youth is revolutionary (just ask Burkina Faso’s Compaore). Today is the day to celebrate those impassioned youth who took to the streets in 1976 for what was right  with nothing but their courage. And then you ought to celebrate the young people today who are making a difference in their communities, making a name for themselves at home and abroad, who are re-writing the media’s script to say “I am the African Child, and I am simply amazing”.

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