Day of the African Child

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Day of the African Child

***** Location: Kenya, Africa, worldwide
***** Season: Cool dry season
***** Category: Observances


The Day of the African Child (16 June)

This is a noticeable observance in Kenya. It is preceded by a build-up of several months. During this time, children practise the performances they will put on that day, adults prepare petitions or speeches, and fund-raising walks and other preparatory activities take place. Even this lead-up is well reported, as events usually happens in the city centre of Nairobi, where they draw attention to the cause of the African Child, who is being and will be celebrated.

The Day itself will have newspaper articles and TV reports on the celebrations and the speeches, as well as the many improvements still needed in the life of the African child -- education for all, an end to violence against children, water, food and sanitation for the health of children, as well as reflections on life in countries where war, kidnappings and child labour blight children’s lives.

Isabelle Prondzynski


A girl sheds tears during the celebration to mark the Day of the African Child in Naivasha yesterday. Vice President Moody Awori was the chief guest.
Picture by Antony Kilonzi


Harm children no more: Why Africa must rediscover Soweto
By Yvonne Chaka Chaka

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Eastern and Southern and Africa Yvonne Chaka Chaka, a South African musician and businesswoman, offers reflections and a call to action on the Day of the African Child


For those old enough to remember, Soweto symbolizes courage. In 1976 during apartheid, young people my age, (I was 11), angry at being taught Afrikaans – seen as the language of oppression – decided to protest. On 16 June, 10,000 of them, mostly school children, took to Soweto’s streets in peaceful demonstrations.

The authorities responded with force. Armed police lobbed tear gas into the crowd and the students retaliated with rocks. When the mayhem was over, 152 children lay dead. The protests continued into 1977, by which time over 700 young lives had been lost. On 26 June that year, the government revoked the teaching of Afrikaans in all-black schools, a triumph for the anti-apartheid movement.

Fifteen years later, in 1991, the Organization of African Unity immortalized the Soweto Uprising by declaring 16 June the Day of the African Child. This declaration marked an official recognition of the children’s contributions to the struggle against apartheid.

This year’s Day of the African Child has as its theme, ‘Stop Violence against Children.’

Incidents of young girls, especially orphans, being raped or molested are reported every day in the media. The perpetrators – often fathers, uncles or neighbours – go unpunished because law-enforcement officers regard these crimes as domestic matters. For these children, though, the family – that sanctuary of peace and safety – has become a haven of impunity and a source of horror.

Where institutions do provide safety for abused children exist, they are woefully inadequate or poorly funded. The violence that is prevalent in the home, in fact, may simply be transferred to the institution.

We need an iron-clad resolve from the highest levels of political leadership. When they memorialized 16 June in 1991, our presidents were in effect saying, “Never again will Africa’s children be violated, abused and mowed down in the manner of the Soweto massacre.” That resolve needs to be rediscovered. Ceremony alone is simply not good enough.

Violence begets violence.
Only strong, robust action against the cycle of violence will fit the tribute that Soweto’s young heroes truly deserve.



Celebrations in the Pumwani slums, Nairobi

All over the continent, the Day of the African Child was celebrated yesterday, 16 June 2006, in memory of the peaceful demonstration of children in Soweto, South Africa, 30 years ago.

By Morten Bonde Pedersen

In another African metropol, Nairobi, St. John’s Community Centre this week had arranged for celebrations throughout the week. The event peaked on the 16th when children from entire Pumwani were invited for a day of theater, music, performance and speeches.

Parallel to the ongoing events children from the slums took part in various activities, e.g. having their hair done and their nails and faces painted by cosmetology students from Nairobi who had all volunteered for the event.




The celebrations -- a schedule for 2003

UNICEF is a member of the National Steering Committee for the Day of the African Child. The Committee is chaired by the Children's Department and has a membership of about 20 NGOs. This year, the Department of Civil Registration joined the Committee because of the birth registration theme. In the week prior to Day of the African Child various activities have been planned that will include :

* 7th June - An NGO - 'Dagoretti 4 Kids'- holds an informal march and rally to protest child labour and substance abuse. The local civil registrar will talk about birth registration.

* 9th June - Week- long activities to mark the day will be launched by the Asst. Minister, Home Affairs, in Maraktwet District at a rally focusing on birth registration. Marakwet District has one of the lowest birth registration rates.

* From 10th June training of birth registration agents and social mobilization for the community-based system of civil registration at the locational level will begin in Marakwet and Keiyo districts. These activities are supported by UNICEF KCO as part of the vital statistics project.

* Between 10th and 11th June - Children's Department Launches the Guidelines on the care of orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. The guidelines were developed by the Government in collaboration with NGO partners, the National Aids Control Programme and UNICEF.

* 11th June - ANPPCAN holds a public baraza (rally) in the Kibera slums to talk about child rights.

* 12 - 15 th June - The Girl Child Network and Plan Kenya will hold workshops for children on child rights in all the Districts where Plan has projects.

* 12 - 13th June - 'The Chambers of Justice', a human rights foundation holds an exhibition at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre on 'Investing in Children'. The significance of birth registration for investment in children will be highlighted. The exhibition will kick off the petitioning process for the 'Cancel-Debts- for-the-Child' campaign. The campaign is spearheaded by the Chambers and has the support of 20 NGOs and several Government Departments. UNICEF is one of the supporters of the campaign, which was launched on April 6, 2003 by the Minister for Home Affairs.

* 14th June - A pleasure/educational train ride for children to Naivasha organized by the NGO- Juhudi Children club.

* 16th June - Public Rally in Nairobi on birth registration. Proposed venue - Starehe Boys Centre. The Minister for Home Affairs, Hon. Moody Awori, will officiate. The UNICEF Kenya Representative will speak at the rally. A supplement on birth registration will be placed in one of the country’s leading dailies.
This will be sponsored by JICA (Japan International Co-operation Agency)

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


chattering school girls --
a child leads a blind man
jangling his shillings

Isabelle Prondzynski


Related words

***** Missing Children’s Day

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