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Day of the African Child celebration goes to Buchanan

Julia Duncan Cassell NDThe Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection says festivities to commemorate the 2015’s Day of the African Child on Tuesday, June 16 will be held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, southeast Liberia, with the participation of three children from each of Liberia’s 15 counties.

Speaking during a regular press briefing last Thursday, June 11, 2015 at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism on Capitol Hill, Deputy Gender Minister for Children Protection, Lydia May Sherman, said June 16 each year is celebrated around the world as the Day of the African Child in commemoration of the 1976 Soweto massacre in South Africa involving school children.

Minister Sherman said the objective of the celebration is to look at issues that affect children and how to address them including early marriage, among others.

She the Government of Liberia remains committed to providing budgetary support for programs that would improve the well being of children across the country, adding that this year, the African Union will witness a youth takeover during the celebration as more than 100 events will be held by various youth advocates across the world.

On June 16, 1976 what had been planned as a peaceful march by nearly 20,000 black pupils against the Apartheid led to the iconic killing of 13-year-old Hector Peterson and scores of other young people by racist police.

Thousands of children took to the streets to protest the compulsory introduction of Afrikaans into schools -a language of the white minority seen as a tool of oppression.

What is certain is that the events of that day ensured the rest of the world woke up to what happening in South Africa, as protests and violence spread into other townships in the days after June 16. By the end of 1976, thousands had been killed and injured by the police and many more arrested.

The Soweto uprising sent waves of revulsion around the world. Global sympathy for the struggle of the majority black population against their white rulers helped to strengthen the resolve of the protest movement and eventually brought about lasting change.

To commemorate the Soweto victims, June 16 was subsequently declared as the annual Day of the African Child in 1991 by the Organization of African Unity - now the African Union. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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