Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Today, its 16th June, a day in which we celebrate the life of an African child. Originating from remembering the massacres of the innocent children in Soweto, South Africa in 1976, we now reflect on the plight of the African child. Indeed we now reflect on the need of the African child to have access to quality education, health, protection against abuse etc. This is because the future of our beautiful African continent lies in the hands of the African child.
In this post, I would like to share my thoughts of having western 'celebrities' come to Africa to adopt our orphans and vulnerable children. In particular, I would like to refer to a case in which Madonna has been allowed to adopt another child in Malawi. I do not wish to hide that I am one of the many Malawians who are not happy with this decision.
Imagine if all our orphaned children were put up for foreign adoption, what would become of their destiny and indeed the destiny of Africa at large? Obviously as Africans we have our own culture and traditions that can not just simply be ignored for material prosperity in a foreign adopted home. Much as we appreciate that a child needs material care, we can also not ignore the need to protect the African identity of the child. If at all, one is interested in the welfare of African children, the solution is not to just pick one or two kids out of the many thousands of orphaned children out there! What is wrong with helping the kids while the kids are right here in Africa like what Oprah Winfrey does? This idea of 'fishing out a single kid' out of Africa as what Madonna is doing can simply be rated as 'media charity'.
A question then pops up in my mind! Is it that as Africans we have failed to take care of our African children? Maybe we can say so? How? It is very surprising that these kids being put up for foreign adoption are being found in orphanages. If not mistaken, this orpanage syndrome is a new phenomenon across Africa. Why do I say so? Normally, in an African communalistic setting, one is supposed to take care of relatives children as if they are your own children. So even if a parent dies, the relatives of the deceased are supposed to take care of the children. But what do we see now? Relatives quickly send the orphaned children to orphanages. This is why there are so many children in the orphanages now.
Where has our African Umunthu spirit gone? Is this a sign that African cultural values are being eroded? In addition to this, we should go back to our African traditional values that always insist that those who are mature enough are the ones who should get married and have children who they can manage to take care of. Otherwise, we shall keep on having problems of children who lack parental care.