Nigeria, June 16, 2020 (SIGNIS - Africa). Every year Africa celebrates the Day of the African Child (DAC), which commemorates the brutal murder of some African students who protested against apartheid-inspired education in Soweto, South Africa. According to the African Union Executive Council, the DAC 2020 theme which is “Access to a Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa,” is focused on celebrating “the children of Africa and calls for serious introspection and commitment towards addressing the numerous challenges they face in Africa.”

 

In Nairobi, Kenya, 2016, I took part in a SIGNIS sponsored Communication Laboratory workshop for training of African youths in social communication. Among the things I was involved with include; going to destitute children in the care of some Catholic organisations to hear their stories. It was shocking to know that some of the children’s parents were alive, but care less about how their children live their lives on the street.

 

As a secondary school teacher and dean of students’ affairs, two students were caught in a sexual offence, which warranted their expulsion from school. But notwithstanding how their uncommon offence could affect my treasured image through misinterpretations, I took courage to plead on their behalf. The intervention was not in support of the children going against the guidelines of the school, but because the prescribed punishment will affect the children’s life in the community.

 

DAC 2020 theme which focus on Child-Friendly Justice System in Africa, requires Africans, especially those with children in their care, to be ready to bear insults and aspersions that may come as a result of the care they offer to the children. Irrespective of the uncommon actions committed by the child, which may be against religious, political and cultural norms, the theme calls on parents and communities to not be brutal in punishing the child. The social teachings of the Catholic Church and indeed, of other religions of the world have always been of the view that children deserve better.

 

Giving the African children a friendly-justice system, entails listening and making effort to assist children. Doing this would require spending time with them, and talking to them in a manner that makes them feel loved and appreciated. Lot of ways through which African child can be offered a friendly-justice system are contained in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), which is yet to be fully domesticated in many African states.

 

Defending and protecting of the unborn child is undeniably, a glorious war most Africans are willing to die for, but rigorous actions need to be taken at the same time, to defend and protect the child outside of the womb. That would include having adequate plans and legislations in place for the child by the government, to be adhered to by parents and communities. Every child is precious, it takes care and affection to make them see the bright side of life.

 

Innocent Iroaganachi