The reality of Nigerian children
The idea behind children’s Day celebration is alien to African history and tradition. Not that African child is not valued and regarded as precious gift from the almighty God, but it is believed there are limitations to their liberty and affection so as not to spoil them. For example, only the twins are revered as special strain and blessing to the society and so they are sometimes celebrated through public funfair of drumming, dancing which also involves parental display. Today, the World concept ‘‘Universal Children’s Day” has ensured unification and togetherness in celebrating values intrinsic in children as core asset of nation building.
World Children’s Day was first established 1954 as Universal Children Day and is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children for their wellbeing worldwide. The Day is not a public holiday but a global observance to mark the anniversaries of the declaration of the right of the child while other countries hold the events on different dates such as fourth Wednesday in October. Today the World Children’s Day is celebrated on 20 November to commemorate the Declaration of the Right of the Child by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly on 20 November 1959.
Although there are variant history of children’s day in the world, as some traced it back to USA in 1857 where a Pastor called Charles Leonard held a service for children in his church known locally as Children’s Day. Another faction gave credence to that of the Turkey which celebrated its International Children’s Day since 1920. And later the first International Children’s Day was declared in 1925 at the World Conference on Child Welfare in Geneva. In Moscow, the Womens International Democratic Federation declared that June the first should be celebrated as an International Day for the Protection of Children, with other days announced across the globe.
As a matter of fact, May 27 every year is traditionally Nigerian children’s holiday where children are granted holiday as part of
government concern of promoting social wellbeing in the country. Even though most village Children do not have full knowledge of the occasion, some of them usually take as free day to play away from school. While some of them are seen in their various school uniforms to celebrate the occasion laced with various activities such as marching parade among others at the selected stadium according to administrative planning of each state. The occasion in Nigeria has further exposed the children to better life where they have opportunity of seeing the governor of their state live or his representative among other state officials to motivate and charge them to be godly as upcoming asset of the nation.
As we celebrate this year Children’s Day we should drop every unacceptable African belief or character that could promote social vices. Let us caution African parental concept where sharing of intimacy or robbing of minds on issues is termed or regarded as disrespect to the elders as exemplified in a Yoruba parlance Oko oleje ti baba tomo koma lala meaning there must be boundary in a father and a child relationship.
The point is that, African Children encounter various public dangers and domestic hazards due to unacceptable concept in some quarters, that a child must be exposed to hardship before acquiring qualitative experience and wisdom in life. No wonder some children are sometimes twisted into street hawkers, vendors of all sorts of merchandise goods as well as hard work that are closely related to child labour. The response of most African parents while being cautioned from being unnecessarily harsh on their children is that “Oloju oni laju e sile kitalubo Wo” meaning no parent would watch his child going rebellious. The joy is that most states have passed the Child Right Act into law to protect children from maltreatment either from their guardians or biological parents. Today all child ill-treatment has not only been condemned globally as child abuse but affected parents may incur the wrath of the law.
Be that as it may, it is an international holiday that was first established in Nigeria in 1964. The selected date of celebration is varied from country to country. But the point is that, it marks the celebration of children, raise awareness on issues affecting children wellness and appreciate their future socio-economic value to the development of a nation.
In spite of the COVID -19 pandemic, Ogun State government remains committed to the wellbeing of the children and commemorated the May 27, 2021 Universal Children’s day with the theme: ‘Promoting Girl Child Education For Sustainable Development’ through virtual App. The App was created by Integrity Campaign Club and supported by Mobile Classroom App, where the wife of Ogun State Governor, Mrs. Bamidele Abiodun charged the children across the state to be well behave, focus and hard working towards achieving their dreams. As a matter of fact, Ogun state government must be commended for organizing virtual Children’s Day first of its kind in the nation.
In Ogun state, the children were treated and also exposed to various motivating activities such as; talent hunt for 20 secondary schools students, each from the three senatorial District participated in poem recitation, quiz, musical presentations on keyboard, trumpet, saxophone among others. Let all the well to do Nigerians from all professions support the celebration of Nigerian children so as to build a reliable future leaders for the socio-economic development of the nation. Besides African parents should learn from global value and celebration attached to Children’s day with fun fare, games among other sporting activities to motivate and give sense of leadership. Let governments at all levels take child education as their core priority, protect their rights and create more awareness on training with civility.
Ositelu is a member of Ogun state Features Unit, Ministry of Information and strategy .
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