Archive for September, 2010

A STOLEN CHILDHOOD

Posted in Uncategorized on September 20, 2010 by Marian Toure

For illustration purposes -- A child happily selling oranges

Friday night in Accra — Ghana’s Capital — and I’m on my way home from lectures after a long tedious week. 

Thought I had it bad but someone else had it worse. Am crying (figuratively) because I use public transport and the road network is in so deplorable a state — as if to say there’s been a time when it hasn’t – that I wish I could develop wings to fly. Traffic on the La Paz-McCarthy Hill road is at its peak, yes, even after 10pm. 

Am sitting in my chartered taxi, contemplating my fate and the choices I had made. Is being in Accra a good idea? Maybe not I kept thinking to myself. When will I get home? Sigh – I need a shower and some sleep, come on, move already! 

Sudden through the chaotic traffic a little voice: “Yeas peor, yeas peor wota”. I suddenly became present in the moment; it was as if someone had woken me from sleep. I hurriedly scanned around to locate the person behind that angelic voice. 

It was the voice of a child, couldn’t have been older that 10 years. My heart sunk. To say it went into a pit of sorrow will surely be an understatement. My eyes welled with tears, my head thumping – headache the size of the rock of Gibraltar — I could feel the veins on my forehead throbbing and pulsating under the skin. 

Why? Where is her mother? Has she a mother? Relative? Who would send a child she’d bore for nine months into these crazy streets to hawk and worst of all, at night? No! Oh my God! Huh? I couldn’t believe it. Flashback – what was I doing at 10pm when I was her age? I was screaming inside, I wished I could take her off the street and take her home with me. No responsible parent, no matter how poor would send such a precious little girl into the streets at night. 

What is our world coming to? I was angry. Was I angry because I was a woman with maternal instincts? Certainly not! I was angry because I was human and I have a heart. This little girl is our future. The future of my beloved country rests on the shoulders of children like this one. 

There certainly is nothing wrong with teaching our children how to be entrepreneurial but there is a time and a place. The days of birthing half a dozen children to serve as farm hands are over so also, the days of slavery and child labour. Children, as young as 8, have become wage earners for families, when it shouldn’t be so. 

We need to do something about this as a society and fast. Bring back the days when childhood was about fun, play and innocence. The sooner the better! 

I pledge to do my bit, however small. What are you doing? Always remember that every little helps. Be a voice for the voiceless. 

  

 

“Yeas peor, yeas peor wota” (English) Yes pure, yes pure water — A hawker’s call for attention to their wares.

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