May 11, 2009, 7:18 AM
The Child Fund The Gambia recently commemorated the Day of the African Child in remembrance of the massacre of the innocent children of Soweto by the apartheid regime of South Africa, during a ceremony held at Brikama Women’s Federation Nursery School in Brikama, West Coast Region.
Speaking at the ceremony, Edrisa Cham, the Federation Manager of Dingding Bantaba, said he was happy observing the day.
He stated that fighting harmful traditional practices should be everyone’s concern.
According to Mr Cham, government, parents, community leaders, religious leaders and even children themselves as collaborative stakeholders should work effectively and efficiently in making sure the well being of children is secured.
“There is no complete society without children; therefore it is incumbent on all the stakeholders to get involved,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the acting-Director of Child Fund, Famara Darboe, the sponsor manager at the institution, said16 June of every year is celebrated continentally as the Day of African Child to refresh minds on the tragedy that took place in Soweto during the apartheid regime in South Africa where many innocent children were massacred.
He thanked Saamasang Federation, Dinding Bantaba and other allied federations to Child Fund for their cooperation.
The general objective of the 2013 celebration is to stop harmful practices in Africa.
Mr Darboe therefore urged all hands on deck to ensure the freedom of children, especially the girl child, as far as FGM practice is concerned.
He then applauded the media and the police services for their stance.
Ousman Bojang is a child who represents Child Fund the Gambia at this year’s celebration held at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he shared his experience with the gathering.
He said he was happy to represent The Gambia at such an international gathering.
During their visit, he explained, the people of Ethiopia were very friendly to them and labelled the theme for this year as excellent. He thanked Child Fund for the opportunity given to him.
For his part, Bakary Badjie from the Child Protection Alliance (CPA) said children are facing all kinds of discrimination and calls for general review on the matter.
According to him, FGM practice is affecting the girl child especially in reproduction, describing it as “baseless” as the practice is not in any of the religious book.
He said Africa is the continent that carries out certain traditional practices which “need to be considered”.
He also talked about corporal punishment, which is now banned in the country, and early marriage, as negative practices against children.
Fallu Sowe, Deputy Director of Social Welfare, in his remarks, also called for a massive sensitization of stakeholders such as community and religious leaders, and appealed for an urgent action to be taken to eradicate any harmful practices against children.
Mr Ousman Kolley of the National Agency against Trafficking in Person (NAATIP) at the Ministry of Justice also spoke on the occasion, among other speakers.