The National Children and Youth Advisory Board (NCYAB) of Liberia with support from Defence for Children Liberia (DCL) on June 19, 2019, celebrated the Day of the African Child, which was characterized by singing and dramas depicting the importance of the event.
This year’s observance of the Day of the Child African was held under the global theme, “Humanitarian Action in Africa: Children’s Rights First,” with the national theme, “Children’s Rights are Human Rights — Liberia is no Exception; let’s Take Action.”
DCI is an active non-governmental organization (NGO) that has been operating in the country since June, 2009. It is run by a group of committed and dedicated Liberians, who are concerned about the deplorable situation faced by children in conflict with the law in the criminal justice system.
The event, held at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship Center, brought together over 50 children from Bomi and Montserrado counties.
In his keynote address, the 2015 Winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize, Ambassador Abraham Keita, told the gathering that the story of the African Child indicates that there were lots of injustices against the rights of children before the current day.
Keita said children across Liberia need to stand up against child labor, rape and other rights violations to ensure that every child gets equal rights and access to justice.
He said from January to June 2019, the number of rape cases has increased, with victims not receiving justice, something he said is not good for a democratic country like Liberia.
“As we stand for our rights, the road will get tough. But we need to stand tall and be loyal to our conscience by doing the right thing,” Keita said.
Keita said when he was five years old, rebels killed his father, leaving him to be reared by his mother. He began his advocating for children at the tender age nine, with no clue of what his efforts would have yielded. According to him, winning the 2015 International Children’s Peace Prize award had never crossed his mind, but he is exceedingly grateful that such an honor was bestowed upon him.
Keita added, “I am a victim of child labor. I sold plastic and other commodities down waterside until I took the courage to make my mother understand, in a respectful manner, that selling plastic was not good for my future. This she understood and never again allowed me to get in the streets to sell.”
DCI-Liberia director Foday M. Kawah said the institution was celebrating the Day of African in a different form because they respect children’s participation.
Kawah said DCI-Liberia is celebrating this day to raise awareness on child rights violation, and create a platform for them to express their views and give ideas on issues affecting them.
The Day of the African Child is an annual celebration, which gives children across the continent the opportunity to reflect on progress towards health, education, equality and protection for all African children.
The Day of the African Child (DAC) has been officially observed on June 16 every year since 1991, when the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union, first declared the day to honor those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 in South Africa.
About 575 people died during a student uprising, but 451 of the dead were recorded as a result of direct police action, while some 2,387 others sustained various degrees of injuries.