Tiny tots at Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund party protest against abuse

2017-07-14 17:34

Johannesburg – Tiny tots took to the streets of Johannesburg on Friday morning to say enough is enough, stop abusing women and children.

Holding self-made placards with their paint stained hands, they sang Nelson Mandela Ha hona ya tshwanang le wena, loosely meaning, there is no one like you.

The little activists, who were joined by teenagers, braved the cold and picketed against abuse outside the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund offices in Saxonwold, where the annual children’s celebration is taking place.

children protest
Little ones on Friday morning took to the streets to picket against the abuse of women and children. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund chose Friday to honour the late statesman's wish to celebrate his birthday with children.

The backyard of the offices had been transformed into a park with jumping castles, mini choo-choo trains and tables and chairs.

The day promised to be one that was full of fun and activism for the children.  

Although some seemed unaware of the true nature of abuse, they threw themselves at the event, holding hands and chanting "enough is enough".

'Celebration mixed with sadness and bitterness'

A warmly dressed little girl shook her head saying, "I don't know why I am here."  The five year-old's teacher came to her aid.

Her teacher, California Nkuna, 30, leaned over and reminded her that they had come to march against the abuse of women and children.

Nkuna said, "We are also here to celebrate Mandela month."

The little girl was among 20 other toddlers from Kgomotso Day Care Centre in Centurion.

A young girl, 8, from Orange Grove held a placard with the words ‘Protect us, speak up against abuse of children’.  

She said, "We are here to say stop abusing children. It is a bad thing. Adults should protect kids.”

A teenager from Centurion said, "We are here for what Mandela has done for us. He fought for our freedom and right for us to be here today."

She said she joined the march because she wanted to show her support to abuse victims.

Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund CEO, Sibongile Mkhabela, said the day would also be used to celebrate Tata Nelson Mandela.

"We do this in a time where our children are less protected and less safe…He came out of prison and the first thing that he said was that we need to change how we treat our children."

Mkhabela said Mandela devoted his time to children's causes.

"It hurts that our children today are hurting as much as they are. So today is a celebration that is mixed with sadness and bitterness at how we have done as South Africa, in as far as our children are concerned."

Holding placards they had made, they stood outside the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund offices in Johannesburg. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Allowing children to have a voice

She said the picket was important because it allowed children to have a voice.

"They are the ones without a voice, so this is to try and enable them to be heard because their voice never gets heard."

Mkhabela said she feared that the same people that were meant to protect children sometimes were the same people that harmed them.

"I know that as an adult, it hurts me deeply that we have failed to protect our children."

She said after the picket, the children would be treated to entertainment.

"They will be running around all day, doing what they do best, playing. We will also be having conversations with the children and the youth so that we can hear what is it that we can do to take away the pressure and restore for them the safety that they should enjoy."

She said communities needed to restore play time.

"One of the things that have gone out of our system is play. Then we complain that our children are obese, but nobody says it is because we have failed them, because they cannot do the normal things that keep them fit.

"We keep making them [the children] the problem and Nelson Mandela was very clear, children are not the problem. It is how society deals with them."

children protest
The fund is treating the children to a fun day at the annual children's celebration event. (Amanda Khoza, News24)


Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  johannesburg  |  protests

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