Day of the African Child Commemorations (June 16)

June 16 has been declared the Day of the African Child (DAC) by the African Union in 1991 in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa. During that time students marched in protest against the poor quality of education they received and demanded to be taught in their own languages.
This year’s theme is ‘Accelerating Protection, Empowerment and Equal Opportunities for Children in Africa by 2030’. The African Charter calls for the protection of all African children against ALL forms of discrimination as well as allowing for equal opportunity for ALL. This also includes the protection of the LGBTI child against any form of stigma, discrimination and abuse because of their sexual orientation. Young African lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex – LGBTI individuals are often subjected to various forms of abuse from religion and tradition;
– Many times it has been said that being LGBTI is a ‘Western import’ and it is not of African origin.
– LGBTI individuals & same sex oriented families are shunned upon by most African society.
– LGBTI suffers at the hands of culture and religion and are exposed to various forms of abusive practices that are believed to ‘take the gay evil spirit out’.
– In some cultures, intersex persons are killed because they believed to possess evil spirits.
– Lesbian women are subjected to horrendous rape as it is believed that this will make them heterosexual or to teach them a lesson.
– Transgender identifying persons often have traditional conflicts; they cannot attend initiation ceremonies (bogwera and bojale) and are viewed as outcasts.
– Laws and policies are passed that are used to imprison many gay men in Africa.
– LGBTI people are dehumanized across Africa.
These are some of the issues that LGBTI youth face in Africa. They deserve protection from these forms of abuse and human rights violations.
“The protection of children from all forms of violence is integrated into all 17 SDGs ranging from gender equality to protection from economic exploitation. SDG 16 is particularly significant as it represents the first time children’s protection from violence is a global target in the development agenda. The indicators or measures to accelerate the protection of children include the need to reduce all forms of violence and related death rates, including ending abuse, exploitation, torture, and trafficking of children, as well as promoting the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensuring equal access to justice for all.”
Africa and Homosexuality:
The following sentiments were shared by Bisi Alimi (2015) to illustrate the context of how homosexuality is African.
“In digging up facts I found that, while many Africans say that homosexuality is un-African, African culture is no stranger to homosexual behaviours and acts.
For example, in my local language (Yoruba), the word for “homosexual” is adofuro, a colloquialism for someone who has anal sex. It might sound insulting and derogatory, however, the point is there is a word for the behaviour. Moreover, this is not a new word; it is as old as the Yoruba culture itself.
In the northern part of Nigeria, yan daudu is a Hausa term to described effeminate men who are considered to be wives to men. While the Yoruba word might be more about behaviour than identity, this Hausa term is more about identity. You have to look and act like a yan daudu to be called one. It is not an identity you can just carry. These words are neutral; they are not infused with hate or disgust.
In the Buganda Kingdom, part of modern-day Uganda, King Mwanga II was openly gay and faced no hate from his subjects until Christianity and its condemnation was brought to Africa. Though King Mwanga is the most prominent African recorded as being openly gay, he was not alone.
In Boy-Wives and Female Husbands, a book examining homosexuality and feminism in Africa, the researchers found ‘‘explicit” Bushman artwork that depicts men engaging in same-sex sexual activity. There have been other indicators that the transition from boyhood to adulthood within many African ethnic groups involved same-sex sexual activities.” – Bisi Alimi (2015)
In Botswana, transgender identifying persons are not allowed to attend initiation schools (bogwera le bojale) as they are deemed to bring disgrace to the Setswana culture. Lesbian women are still silently raped with the aim to ‘correct’ them, these cases often go unreported as young lesbian women feel that they are not protected.
LEGABIBO hopes that this day will provide an opportunity for learning and sharing, thus, help to create an enabling environment for all and strengthen the LGBTI and PFLAG support group visibility. Furthermore, we call for the protection and provision of equal opportunities for the young LGBTI by families, society, policy makers, the church, schools and service providers and encourage the strengthening of old partnerships and create new ones that will benefit the LGBTI community. It is important to note that true African culture celebrates diversity and promotes acceptance.
For further information, please contact Bradley Fortuin at LEGABIBO on +267 316 74 25,