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Sierra Leone News: Children urge to identify as Africans… on June 16

On Friday 16 June, children from seven primary schools in Freetown converged at the office of Stop It-Sierra Leone on King Harman Road in Freetown, where they received lessons on the significance of identifying oneself as an African child.
The purpose of the gathering was to commemorate the 2017 Day of the African Child, a day set aside to honour children who fought for and died trying to achieve change in Soweto, South Africa in 1976.
As part of the commemoration, Stop It- Sierra Leone also organised a story telling competition, which encouraged the children to write about their identity. The first three pupils in this competition will receive a scholarship award for the next academic year.
In her opening statement, the Chair of the occasion, Kiptieu Sesay-Agyei, described who the African child is, stating that the African child is a sole remnant of people found not only in Sierra Leone but around the world. “In Sierra Leone it is those individuals and citizens who find their identity embedded in Sierra Leone. It is the Sierra Leonean who seeks the good of her people. It is the person who is desperate to create a positive image of Sierra Leone”.
She said identity is not just who we are but who we will become.
She called on the children to search and question how much of the African child they were, they have been and want to become.
Giving the keynote address, the Honorary Consul of South Africa in Sierra Leone, Aminata Kallay, stressed the manner in which Africans have lost their identity. She said, when the colonial powers stripped Africans of their identity and replaced them with altered identities, much was lost. She added that what remained was intertwined with and influenced by the philosophies of the colonial powers.
Kallay said, “To a large extent, our language was stolen, our minds were stolen. To a large extent, the images the rest of the world sees of Africa are the same negative and stereotypical images Africa sees of Africa”.
She said the identity Sierra Leoneans should try to promote is to rebrand Sierra Leone away from the ugly image of war, poverty and corruption towards that of a confident and beautifully endowed country that is an ideal destination for tourism and business.
Estherlyn Metzger a class five pupil of Regent Square Municipal School, said she does not want what happened to children in South Africa to happen to them. Metzger said, “I want to live like an African child; I want better education and I want early marriage and child abuse to stop.”
By Edna Smalle
Monday June 19, 2017.

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