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African Child’s Day Commemorated

African Child’s Day Commemorated

Sierra Leone, Monday June 17th, joined other countries in Africa to commemorate the Day of the African Child in memory of the several innocent African children massacred in Soweto, South Africa in 1976.  The theme of this year’s Commemoration was, “Eliminating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children, Our Collective Responsibility.”

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, in collaboration with the Steering Committee organized a ceremony at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown in honour of the historic day.

Delivering a speech at the ceremony on behalf of her husband, the First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Sia Nyama Koroma, described the day as historic for the children of Africa and those of Sierra Leone in particular as they reflect on the uprising in Soweto, South Africa, where a protest by school children against apartheid education resulted in public killing of unarmed young protesters by police officers.

The First Lady noted that the day was set aside by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU) in memory of the children gunned down and in honour of their courage, adding that the day also draws attention to the lives of the African children today.

Her Excellency Madam Koroma also informed that the day provides an occasion for governments, international institutions and communities to renew their ongoing commitments towards improving the plight of marginalized and particularly vulnerable children by organizing activities and interventions aimed at including these specific children.

She, however, informed that the National Planning Committee for this year’s commemoration contextualized the regional theme to read as, “Ending Harmful Practices Affecting Children, Our Collective Responsibility.”

Madam Koroma described the national theme as challenging and reminded all stakeholders, including government, non-state actors, communities, parents and the children themselves, in ensuring the protection and promotion of the welfare and rights of children in Sierra Leone.

“My government remains committed to ensuring protective environment for every child through child-friendly laws and policies,” the First Lady remarked.

In his address, the Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, Mustapha Bai Atilla, encouraged parents to send their children to school, pointing out that education is the key to success.

The Deputy Minister called for the discouragement of harmful practices against children such as early marriage, child labour and initiation into secret societies. Honourable Atilla lauded government for enacting the Child Rights Act and other child-friendly legislations.

By Mohamed Y. Turay

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