Today is June 16th, the day of the African child. This day was initiated in commemoration of tens of thousands of South African children who marched in Soweto on June 16th, 1976 to demand better education and to protest against the policies of the apartheid government.
June 16th is therefore a day of protest, a day to demand the basic rights for our children, a day when we must stand up for the children. Tomorrow, Friday June 17th, in honor of the children, Stand Up For Cameroon will be wearing black and asking you to wear black for the children.
Some of the key indicators of a progressive society are the quality and quantity of investments that this society makes in its children. From healthcare to education, from the creation of hope to the creation of opportunity, from accessing conditions for experimentation to those for innovation, societies have understood that their present and their future depend on the investments they make in their children.
In this light, we as Cameroonians, must stand up today, for our children. We must stand up to build a better country and a better future for our children. Today, our society puts its children at risk. The Cameroonian child is at risk:
• At birth, due to poor healthcare – 58 000 children born every year in Cameroon die before their first birthday.
• Due to trafficking. Cameroon is a source, transit and destination country for trafficking. Children are trafficked for labor, sex, adoption and organ harvesting. There are no government programs to eradicate these horrible crimes that are endangering our children.
• Due to ignorance and poor education. Insufficient and inadequate schools are causing our children to be handicapped for life. They are not prepared for the professional world and are not competitive on the job market. Many of our children simply do not have access to school.
• Due to unemployment. Of the children who do get access to an education, less than 30% will be able to find adequate employment.
• Due to emigration. Because we have killed their hope, our children risk their lives across deserts, and through the sea; end up being enslaved, abused and sometimes killed.
On Friday June 17th, we are asking you to wear black, to bring back hope to our children.
• Wear black and affirm yourself and your power to effect change in Cameroon
• Wear black and send a message to fellow Cameroonians that you are willing to Stand Up For Cameroon and Stand Up For Our Children
• Wear black and send a message to our government to tell them our children deserve basic rights and services
• Wear black and send a message to our parliament to tell them they cannot modify our constitution to keep a regime in power, that has failed our children and denied them basic services
• Wear black to reaffirm that you and I are Cameroonians and that we have begun the journey to take back our country.
When faced with a complex problem we sometimes wonder what to do. This Friday, June 17th take a simple first step that is within your power.
Wear black for the children of Africa.
Wear black for the children of Cameroon.
Wear black and let the children know that you, me, we as a society, are willing to take a stand for them.