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Africa culture/tradition education Nigeria opinion reflection Series

Amnesty Int’l Letter: Children’s Day 2020

Dear Okechukwu,

I wish a happy Children’s Day to all the children in your life.

But as I write to you today, my heart goes out to all the children detained in Northeast Nigeria and caught up in endless violence at the hands of Boko Haram and the Nigerian military.

They were taken away from their families and had their childhood revoked – they were forced to become child soldiers and child wives, subjected to atrocious violence. They were detained unlawfully, often with adults, in grossly inhumane conditions. They were ill-treated and tortured.

And now, as they attempt to recover, hundreds of schools remain closed – 75% of children in Borno State are out of school.

We’re launching a report on the toll of Nigeria’s Northeast conflict on children today.

Nigeria must swiftly reverse its course and bring redress to children in the Northeast.

Kind wishes,
E. I.
Campaigner, Amnesty International Nigeria

***

I received this heart breaking email from Amnesty International Nigeria. As I read through, it dawned on me that there’s little or nothing to celebrate today. Bad leadership, political unrest, insurgency, religious crisis and poverty contributed to issues faced by children today. I always mention bad leadership because it is at the centre of it all.

It’s frightening when I look at reported cases of abuse (and what about unreported cases?) Children rights are abused on daily basis. Even as we celebrate their day, many will go to bed without food, many will never attend school in their lifetime, many may never have the chance to live (a normal life). What is really going on?

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Is it not awful that in today’s civilized world which had conquered diseases, deserts and drought, that children rights are taken lightly? They have become main victims of forced labour, teenage pregnancy, sexual/physical abuse, trafficking, child soldiers etc. I hope that things change for good.

I dedicate the poem below to children, all over the world. I echo what many may never have the chance to ask for:

Give me books and a pen,
Promise me nothing but education
Teach me words or to count one to three
And I’ll paint the world for you to see

Today being Children’s Day, I wish that every child has access to quality education, that every child live in a world free of economic, religious, political, or sociocultural discrimination and finally that we all put children’s rights first and contribute towards their happiness, peace and progress.

Good night.

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Africa haiku Nature Poetry

Haiku: Happy Hawk

Happy hawk surf,
King of blue clouds, wind
While silence look on

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Africa culture/tradition folklore Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 9

Papa came back looking exhausted and defeated. He hung a tied piece of wrapper across his left shoulder and chewed slowly on bitter cola. He held a yellow palm frond in his left palm as he walked into our compound.

From my room I watched him march straight to his hut without speaking to anyone. He didn’t even answer Mama’s greeting. Something must be the problem and I was determined to find out sooner or later.

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Three nights ago I overheard Mama and Papa speak about the new priest that was sent by the Mission to our hamlet. Papa had intentions to speak to him to see if he could help liberate me from the spirit. They said the white man was stout with an iconic moustache. He was very tall and wore large eye glasses. Some children and indeed the villagers reasoned he had special powers for he talked back with authority and rude confidence at the Chief. Those who had met him thought he spoke through his nose and that he barely breath when he spoke. My friends who went with their fathers to welcome him said he spoke something like shuprishupri and they pitied their fathers who could only nod and gesticulate when he spoke to them. They swore he was a good actor full of humour. Sometimes some of the children will try to mimic his speaking style, ridicule his manners and then laugh away at their stupid selves.

Papa went to welcome him as the eldest in his clan. He should have taken me as his first son as others did but he felt I was not fully recovered. I thought Papa wouldn’t let us close to missionaries so that we won’t get corrupted by their ways. He had deliberately stopped us from attending church services too. But why would he seek help from those he abhorred? I shrugged. I knew one day I’ll meet the white man, and see if I can use his ways to free myself from this bondage.

***

One dibia suggested taking me to a forest for a week-long deliverance but my father refused saying that he won’t let me out of his sight. Mama has protested even before my father took the decision. I was indifferent, if no one wanted me to possess a Leopard spirit then why not do the needful to break the link?

The dibia had even adviced Papa to leave me this way, on grounds my powers may prove useful some day. I remember Papa shout, “Tufiakwa! Chukwu amamkwe!!

To be continued…