Sr. Phatsimo Veronica Ramokgwebana, SC – Gaborone, Botswana
The Day of the African Child traces its roots to the 1976 uprising in Soweto, South Africa. The day, recalls the South African students who were murdered on 16 June in 1976, in Soweto, when they protested against Apartheid and the introduction of Afrikaans as the medium of instruction in their local schools.
The day is now observed on the African continent as a day for reflection and advocacy on the challenges facing many of Africa’s children and young Africans. It is also a day to promote the rights of children and to give visibility to children and young persons through fun activities.
Diocese of Gaborone commemorates Day of the African Child
In commemoration of the Day of the African Child, the Youth and Young Adults & Youth Day wings of the Diocese of Gaborone, on Sunday, organised various outdoor Sports activities. This year’s theme of the African Child is “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First.”
The Gaborone events started with a walk from Ave Maria to St. Joseph’s College. Along the way a fun colour run was organised. After the walk, the Eucharistic celebration followed. Later in the day, other field activities were also held.
More needs to be done for young people in Africa
Speaking on the sidelines of the Day of the African Child events, Youth leaders in the Diocese of Gaborone challenged their society to invest in young people. Christopher Christian Seagateng and Lesedi Molapisi said that with concerted efforts, solutions were possible.
“For us to address the problems (of children and young people) we think that young people need to be engaged at decision-making stages because often we find that programmes are made for young people without their input. In other words, if those in authority would consider involving young people and have them present when making decisions that affect us,” He continued, “I believe that in Africa, we are very rich in terms of resources that we are not using to our advantage. Therefore, if we can come together and be able to partner, and use these resources for the good of everyone, young people would helped. Young people need to be helped to channel their energies to productive activities in society,” the Gaborone Youth leader said.
Young people must be proud of being African
The youth leaders in Gaborone warn that a whole generation is being lost.
“As the majority generation in Africa, today, we should hold fast to this great Continent and possess it as our home. It is a beautiful Continent with a variety of colours like those of a Rainbow. Our cultures, religions, races and languages may vary, but we are all bound not only by the geographical borders of this continent but more importantly, by the intangible belief that this is home for everyone. This means that young people (of Africa) should come together and be proud of their Africanism -proudly embrace who they are,” said Seagaten
For her part, Molapisi argued that there are just not sufficient government-funded programmes specifically designed to empower young people. Governments in Africa pay lip service to issues of young people but make no investment or meaningful budgetary allocation towards projects specifically meant of young people.
Give us an education that prepares us for the future
“We do not have enough programmes that are designed for the youth to empower them and everything…” Molapisi said before adding, “You will find that the education system that we have (in Africa) does not prepare us for future employment. Young persons need programmes that teach us how we create employment for our own selves. There should be programmes that are made so that they encourage the youth to become entrepreneurs instead of employees. We become entrepreneurs so that we can create jobs for our fellow brothers and sisters instead of just going out and seeking employment hence the high unemployment rate,” Molapisi appealed.
Outdoor activities to get young people away from their phones
This year, the Diocese of Gaborone emphasised upon outdoor sports activities such as colour run, walk, netball and soccer. Reflecting on these activities, Molapisi said this year, the Diocese avoided in-door events such as “talk shows” which usually alienate the much younger generation.
“Our new generation -all we do nowadays is to be on our computers, or we are locked up in Facebook. This time around we wanted young people to stay away from social media and to stay away from phones,” Molapisi explained.
“I am not a good Soccer player, but I enjoyed watching others play, and from the sidelines, I cheered them on,” commented Seagateng.