STREET CHILDREN IN AFRICA: The Leaders of No Tomorrow

These children lack the necessary tools for survival, which are shelter, food, education and a right to be treated as humans.

According to ILO and UNICEF, there are about 30 million street children in Africa with South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Egypt and Nigeria making vast numbers. When we talk about street children, we refer to impoverished and destitute children who live on the streets, city or village. The parlous state of street children comes to mind when you think of Africa in general. On this continent, the gap between the rich and the poor keeps appreciating with the leaders turning a blind eye to the ugly state of the unfortunate street children. The question remains, who is to blame for this shameless act?

Growing up, I recall how they designated us as the leaders of tomorrow; that slogan was so famous we always envisioned ourselves as becoming doctors, scientists, engineers, governors and presidents. If only we knew these dreams were for the rich or the privileged ones in the society. Today most of the kids who believed the idea of becoming the prospective leaders of tomorrow have turned out to constitute the bedrock of the street children we see in the streets.

I walk around the streets in every country I have visited in Africa and its an identical story, young homeless children either begging or playing around the roadside. They seem to have gotten used to the street culture that the only thing on their mind is survival. Some of them as young as 4-year-old lurk around the street corners begging money from every passer-by. These children have been called all inhumane names like “street urchins,” “thieves,” “gangsters,” “menace to the society” and you wonder how they ended up in the streets, was it their choice or their government’s neglect.

I will continue chanting the same song; the 30 million African street children have no business been on the streets. How can a continent with so much wealth and resources allow this nonsense to happen? The corrupt African governments are the instigators of the crime we witness on the streets because if they had employed a little fraction of the money they steal to take care of every street child, the roads would be free of displaced children. The criminals in the society grew up in the streets; it’s a harsh world out there, and the motto is survival of the fittest. The government in Africa deliberately allowed poverty to trend because when the people remain poor and uneducated, they resort to dividing and conquering them to stay in power. The high crime rate originates from the increasing numbers of street children. Lamentably, there are no laws aimed at rehabilitating them, and in situations where the laws are present on paper, it does not reflect on the growing number of street children.

I bear the pain in the hearts of the street children in Africa; they have every reason to feel neglected because the government represents the enemies of their progress. Why should I come to this world when all I will face is poverty, hunger and neglect from the people who swore before entering office to defend me. I pose a challenge to every African leader who is currently in power. I challenge them to develop realistic and achievable laws that will end the dominance of children in the streets. No child in Africa should be on the streets; there is enough money to go around. The street children should be entitled to the fundamental necessity in life, which is access to quality education, shelter and a chance of becoming the future leaders of tomorrow. As always, it’s my opinion.

Credit Photo: The African Exponent

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