Since 1991, the Day of the African Child (#DAC) is celebrated every year by the African community to stand in support of the rights of children across the African continent. It is also celebrated to commemorate the thousands of courageous children who marched in protest against apartheid and demanded equal education on 16th June 1976 in Soweto, South Africa. The 2019 celebration of the International Day of the African Child was under the theme “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First.” Governments, organizations, communities and individuals marked this important day with lots of beautiful activities.
Libraries in Africa did not miss out on the celebration. The African Library community marked this day by engaging children, who come from of all walks of life, through a number of innovative, educative and fun-based activities and programmes while emphasizing the need for quality education and access to the basic necessities of life for every African child.
Children at the Divine Wounds of Jesus Christ Orphanage and Rehabilitation Centre in Abuja, Nigeria celebrated the Day through music and dance, reading competitions, autobiography reviews, and saxophone training. Librarians from the National Library of Nigeria in Abuja organized this program to empower the orphans through the provision of books and skills acquisition. Other children from selected rural communities in Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nigeria, were also exposed to personal hygiene, clean energy and how it affects the environment. The children had fun with the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutions (ASURI) Branch of the National Library of Nigeria, organizers of the programme, through other activities like alphabets recitation and the translation of SGDs into the local dialects.
In support of the International Day of the African Child, the City Library, Abuja, through its Almajiri Literacy Programme organized an innovative joint-literacy session for Almajiris and the FCT Secondary School students. The Almajiris, constitute the larger part of the street boys in Nigeria. Bringing together these two groups of children under the same roof symbolized the right to quality education for all children regardless of ones socio-economic status. The children were able to interact, open up to each other as peers, share ideas and problems. The students had opportunities to appreciate the privilege being given to them to acquire quality education through the formal school setting. The Almajiris were introduced to skills that will empower them economically and eventually keep them off the streets. The practical sessions included training on painting, shoe shining and repairs.
Away from West Africa! The Nakuru Branch Library, knls in the East African country of Kenya, also marked the Day with inspiring and fun activities such as music and dance, poem recitals and reading competitions. The school children also learnt skating. The organizers took the opportunity to invite a police officer to come and enlighten the schoolchildren on the rights of a child and how to be a good citizen. Celebration by libraries in the Southern African country of Zambia focused on raising awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the AU Agenda 2063 highlighting the place and role of the African Child in these continental and global development agendas.
The deaf and visually impaired children of Oshana, Namibia, were not left out on the International Day of the African Child. Librarians at the Oshana Regional Library and Ondangwa Community Library organized series of activities for the children including a video show with with the aid of a sign interpreter. Children with special needs were also taught how to read and with a talking pen, i.e. how to read and write by sound. At the end of the event, the Oshana Regional Library donated snacks and gifts (sanitary pads, plates and drinking cups) to the Eluwa Special School.
The Eastwood and Georgetown Libraries in South Africa also commemorated the Day by organizing activities like debate on gender equality for the African Child and a netball tournament for school children. Pupils in Grade 7 were exposed to skills on information seeking and searching at the library. Practicals sessions for the children also included how to do their assignments and school projects on the internet.
For these African children, this Day will be a day they will always look forward to as they get the opportunity to play, showcase their talents, learn new things, feel appreciated by the world and above all, hope for a safer and brighter future. How did your library mark this day? Share with us.
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