Redeeming The African Girl Child

What one big idea should African leaders implement that will harness the power of the continent’s girls to transform all our futures? Africa’s problems are peculiar, and this quality of uniqueness stems from a range of various factors. To approach and effectively tackle these peculiar problems, one needs a set of practical and unconventional ideas. First, African’s reality differs, such that the narratives and plight in Egypt, Algeria and South Africa are not necessarily the same nor concomitant with the narratives in Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya. However, the challenge of dismal condition of the girl child seems ubiquitous in Africa. The pitiable condition of the girl child is a common denominator in the continent, a scourge that blights the constituent countries of Africa which needs well determined and exigent actions and applications to expel. When we observe the scenario, we are immediately served with existential questions, such as; what are the ways in which African leaders can harness the power of girls in Africa? How do we get every girl into school and learning? How do we enable girls to become the engineers, entrepreneurs and political leaders of tomorrow in Africa? The search for a single sacrosanct idea that will magically transform the plight of the African girl child is simply arduous, and futile just like searching for a needle in a hay stack. Not that the African continent repels palliative and curative measures targeted towards saving it, rather, Africa needs an in-depth understanding of the scenario on the part of the rescuer. Unfortunately, majority of the good willed men and women who attempts do lack a thorough understanding of the issues at stake. This is the reason why we get basic solutions from people who see and comprehend only on the surface level; education and women empowerment is suggested without empirical and practical steps towards the tangible liberation of the girl child. The bad condition of the African girl child, like most of African social problems is intertwined in the people’s culture and tradition, its interpretation and execution. The custodian of these cultures are at most cases uneducated and even when they go to school, matters bothering on such issues of his traditions and cultures are not treated, he rather learns the history of the world (with focus to the west), economics and politics, which are all good, safe for the fact that the philosophy in his backyard is left untouched, not critiqued to expose the pros and cons, a critical appraisal. So it is that when people insist that education is the sole messiah of Africa’s problem, it only sounds a bit ridiculous and one is forced to ask which education? The one already in Africa for almost a century now? In tandem with the foregoing, we are here laying our focus on what big idea the African leaders should implement to save the continent, whereas studies have proved that African leaders at best have practically failed its people and at worst, the architect of some other contemporary problems of Africa. This is not a call for the revolution of the fabric of leaders we have here, albeit necessary and long overdue, it must also have by now sound cliché. However, this is a warranted reminder to the people that the mission to save the girl child in Africa is not the sole responsibility of the leaders. Reforming the girl child and her conditions in Africa is a humanitarian mission, one that should involve all right thinking human and not left for the leaders. The situation of the backward girl in Azigbo or Ijebu-Itele is one that demands the benevolent and generous applications of each and every sensible human, for her redemption and reformation. If we are bent on finding a singular solution like a magic wand that will automatically transform the situation, then the only thing that can come close to that is what I like to call “Grassroots education and Radical enlightenment.” In grassroots education and radical enlightenment, the educator in the classroom is not the only teacher and the elected officials in government are not the only leaders. Each and every one of us is both teachers and leaders. Against the backdrop afore stated, grassroots education and radical enlightenment demands we remember that the first port of socialization is the family. A girl child will have her self-esteem built by the pedagogies of her family and the constituent members. The family remains the first contact and institution of learning for any individual. The bewildering question at this juncture is why does this same family that boosts the boy child concurrently dampen the girl’s morale? The whole society needs a radical enlightenment. For Mr Okafor, a trader at Awkuzu, to understand why he needs to equally treat and expose her daughters to equal opportunity as the sons, he needs to be enlightened, radically, and to achieve this, we must decipher his places of interest and captivate on it to tutor him. Concentrating on our formal schools, we will definitely miss Mr Okafor, and most probably, his offsprings, immediate and remote family. This gives credence to the thought that we need to employ informal systems and channels to catch the real audience who needs the education, who are directly or indirectly the perpetuators of the menace searing our society. If Mr Okafor goes to church, we should take the mission there, in his trade unions and business sources, the message should be taken there. Likewise in his kinsmen meetings, clan gatherings and town hall meetings, the message should be extended there. Virtually all African man and woman, from the Professor down to the roadside trader, the government official and even the criminals belongs to a clan, a kinsmen union, a town, and all these unions are taken seriously, all the resolutions from it carried and executed with impassioned zeal. These unions most times overtake the schools in inculcating lessons especially to the elders and the senior members of the society. How about we seize these channels to orientate, educate and sensitize? Richard Dowden in his masterpiece Africa, foreword by Chinua Achebe, he reaffirms that any attempt to uniformly define Africa usually fails. He opined that when we open our mouth to do so, we say, “Africa is…”, and whatever you say next comes tumbling and crashing and will never neither capture nor explain the whole of Africa at once. Thus, to solve any problem of any magnitude in Africa, it is imperative to first study the countries differently and their conditions, understand the scenario, before suggestion, implementation and execution of any solution whatsoever. To solve the problems of the African girl child, people must come down from their high places, get closer to the people and feel their plights. The fast growing social media must also be employed in this outreach because when and where it is hard for the girls themselves to voice out in the tangible world, it is easy for them to lay their views and complaints, meet with people and empower themselves in the virtual world of social media. Walter Rodney in How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, related that a foreigner becomes the architect of his own woeful failure when he fails to understand that he needs to learn from the indigenous people of his new clime. That been said, what Africa needs is not just foreign aids both from Co Africans or the other parts of the world, or conventions and conferences, or one big idea to shock it to development, what Africa needs is the thorough understanding of its condition by its messiah, Africa needs collection of little efforts of sincere motives and not meant for the glamour of world press. Little measures that will create a ripple effect, transforming into a big stride and rescuing the girl child. The big idea we need now, is the sincerity and then the unity of purpose, we all must agree that it is finally time to get down to work. Thank You.

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