This week I watched celebrations of the day for the African Child on news. As usual there were songs, poems and dances by happy children. However the real situation of most African children is very grave, hardly a day passes without news of abuse cases, kidnappings, malnourished children, a child not being given an opportunity to go to school, children suffering in war torn countries etc.....
Lately there have been many cases of kidnappings of children in Kenya, kidnapping years back was a worry of the rich because it was believed they could produce the big ransom being demanded by the kidnappers. Now the story in Kenya is different, children of people in the middle class and even lower class are being kidnapped. The kidnappers now demand as low as Ksh50,000 from the parents or else they will kill the child. To a rich person this is very little money but to an ordinary Kenyan this is not a small amount. It is sad that a child’s life can be threatened by silly thugs just because of some small money. I call them silly because they are using mobile phones to contact the parents, who of course will contact the police even when warned not to do so, the police will then contact the mobile company involved to tract down the where-about of the caller. Thanks to technology many of them have been caught, but because they are silly thugs they do not learn from such mistakes, new cases are still being reported. Parents still need to be watchful of their kids because not all of them will be caught others can accomplish their threats.
The other case is child abuse, many African children are abused in many ways. Thursday Daily Nation Newspaper reported that “Sexual abuse against children has been on the increase over the years, but many cases are never reported, police have said”. The Cradle a child right organization is also reported to have said that an average of 10 cases involving child abuse have been reported at its Nairobi offices every week since January Read more on their web. This is very sad because there are many more cases that are not reported, many children are abused by people they know, like a neighbor or a relative. There was also the story of a Catholic Priest who is accused of sexually abusing orphan boys in his care. There are many cases that have been reported about children sexually abused by foreigners at the Kenyan coast. Just this week a man was arrested when he went to produce photographs of young girls he has been abusing in his neighborhood in a Nairobi Slum. The stories are many and I wonder if a relative, a neighbor, a priest, a parent, a teacher can abuse a child sexually, who will protect the African child from these people? The answer can be the government, but the government cannot be everywhere, I think it is stiffer laws against the perpetrators and building of more boarding schools for poor children that will save the African child from such problems.
Apart from the above cases the African child is also threatened by many other problems like diseases, hunger, lack of education or poor education, clothing, being left as orphans (many of their parents die of AIDS, war and the list is long. All these are as a result of poverty and bad governance because I believe a country that is well governed has less suffering citizens when its resources are distributed evenly and are used properly to the benefit of its citizens. A well governed state should have good laws that protect its children.
I therefore hope that one day African leaders will take proper measures to protect the African Child and then the day of the African Child will be marked with real joy.