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SPEECH BY THE GUEST SPEAKER

Day of the African Child 2015

Honourable guest of honour, teachers, county and national government officers, organizations working for children and my dear brothers and sisters, today am honoured to speak to all of you.

Dear brothers and sisters, remember one thing, today is a day for children in Africa, every boy and every girl with a dream for a better life. Let me remind you the genesis of this day; on the 16th June 1976, students in Soweto South Africa rose against the apartheid government to protest against poor quality of the education they received and demanded to be taught in their own language, many were killed. Their efforts were not in vain; as we remember them, let us never forget that they gave a platform that inspire sober reflection and action toward addressing challenges facing Africa children.

This year, we are focusing on a problem still facing some of our brothers and sisters in the Modern Kenya; child marriage. I know there are many people in the government and non-governmental organizations working day and night to see this vice eliminated.

So here I stand to speak so that those without a voice can be heard,

I raise my voice so that those girls in the various parts of the country who are denied; opportunity to grow as children, education, participation in airing their views and all the other rights entitled to them because of this vice.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, let me share with you the story of Jane. She is 13 years old this year. Jane was a bright girl and with good leadership qualities that earned her a leadership role in her school. She was loved by both her school mates and teachers. Her dream was to be a teacher. But her family had a different plan for her. Though she suspected she may be married off, she did not know when and to whom. This happened on her 12th birthday. Jane was married of to an old man. Her efforts to have her family stop the marriage until she completes school were defeated by her community that threatened to denounce her. Jane is now expectant, experiences a lot of domestic violence, she feels hopeless, helpless and she is depressed.

Jane is just one of the many girls who are in marriage or at the danger of being married of at a tender age. According to the study conducted by the International Centre for Research on Women, one third of girls in the developing countries are married off before the age of 18 years. If the present trends continue, 142 million girls will be married before their 18th birthday over the next ten years.

Dear elders and community members, this is why I raise my voice today, because;

I don’t want my basic rights as a child violated

I don’t want to be forced to drop out of school

I don’t want to face my sister with health complications due to early pregnancy

I don’t want to be infected with HIV

Dear brothers and sisters, many girls are suffering today because of child marriage and more will suffer if we remain silent. This is why I say; now it’s the time to speak up.

So today we call upon leaders to develop and enforce policies and the provisions of the children’s Act to promote equality of opportunity for all children.

We call upon the both county and national government to develop programmes that will protect children and ensure free compulsory education for every child in the country.

We call upon all communities to stop all cultural practices that violate the rights and well being of children.

I pray that we shall never forget that every child in this country is looking forward to a bright future.

Thank you and May God bless you all.

Gabriel kariuki Gichuki

Mount Angel Primary School – Nyahururu

Class 7

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