The Day of the African Child (DAC) is commemorated in memory of the student uprising in Soweto, South Africa,16 June 1976. Students marched in protest of the poor quality of education but were violently attacked by the police force of the then South African apartheid regime.
For this reason, every year the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) celebrate the bravery and rights of African children while paying homage to those killed in the 1976 massacre. The theme for the 2017 DAC was “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Children in Africa: Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity”. The child-friendly version is “Accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunities for children in Africa by 2030. ″
In order to commemorate the day, the United Nations Information Center (UNIC) Windhoek visited Ruimte Primary School on 16 June in Rehoboth, and delivered a presentation introducing both learners and teachers to the fundamental concepts related to the DAC and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The interactive presentation was focused on the following themes: the Soweto uprising, an overview on the AU, key elements of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the 2017 theme for the DAC, the UN Structure and the link between the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Rights of African children.
An emphasis was placed on the core principles of the 2017 DAC theme, specifically accelerating protection, empowerment and equal opportunity. Furthermore, particular attention was given to the eight crucial SDGs with clear linkages to the Charter. Namely, SDGs 1 (end poverty), 2 (eradicate hunger), 3 (promote health), 4 (secure education), 5 (effect gender equality), 6 (access to water and sanitation), 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) & 17 (partnerships for the goals).
The event was made special by the incredible participation of the learners, who were never shy to speak into the microphone, provided constant energy, as well as thought-provoking responses to questions posed by the UNIC team. The school provided a rich cultural atmosphere with student poetry focused on the spirit of being a proud African child and a play emphasizing the need for humility and generosity amongst Africans. A celebration of this nature, however, would not have been complete without proud Africans taking to the stage and dancing to the beat. A combination of young learners performing the “langarm,” a cultural dance in Rehoboth, and an open floor with teachers and learners showing off their moves, really epitomized the joyous spirit of the celebration.