If you know me or are getting to know me, you will find out that I am extremely passionate about girl child issues in Africa, particularly the education of the girl child. I have been doing a lot of work with a girls' secondary school in Kwale County recently, and it has been an amazing experience. I have heard so many stories that I will share in another post, but it is amazing what girl children face on a daily basis in and around their homes, and their communitites. True African Original is committed to advocating for the fundamental right to education for the girl child and continues to work for the advancement of her educational welfare, because according to the Global Campaign for Education:
- HIV/AIDS infection rates are doubled among young people who do not finish primary school. If every girl and boy received a complete primary education, at least 7 million new cases of HIV could be prevented in a decade.
- Education is a key economic asset for individuals and for nations. Every year of schooling lost represents a 10 to 20 per cent reduction in girls’ future incomes. Countries could raise per capita economic growth by about 0.3% percentage points per year – or 3 percentage points in the next decade - if they simply attained parity in girls’ and boys’ enrollments.
- Failure to educate girls and women perpetuates needless hunger. Gains in women’s education contributed most to reducing malnutrition between 1970-1995, playing a more important role than increased food availability.
- Women with education are better able to successfully resist debilitating practices such as female genital cutting, early marriage and domestic abuse by male partners.
I spent one day last weekend at the Rondwe Girls' School, and conducted a self esteem workshop for the girls who are mostly 15, with the exception of two 13 year olds. We talked about the portrayal of women in the media, body image, self confidence and self worth, and overall the girls seemed to have a general feeling of self worth.
I shot this very amateur video of the girls performing the poem "On Bended Knees" written by Shaban Mwero, that highlights the challenges many of them have faced. I was very moved when I first heard them perform it and thought it was important to share it. The girls are on full scholarships offered by the school, which runs on donations from well wishers.
ON BENDED KNEES
In miasma of indignity
In turmoil’s of infirmity
Inferno of infinity
On bended knees
Begging but just for a smile
Us to make move one more mile Angles we do
Won’t you smile too?!
Days are painted but black
Life bleak and black
For the key when we complain
In a manner so plain
Thrashing crashing trash they do explain
“Father, I want to go to school!”
“Are you a fool?”
“That’s why I want to go to school
The master key to search!”
“I have no cash for such”
“But primary education is for free!
I want to attain a degree”
“No school! That’s my decree!’’
“The key is for Wanjau and Kamau
It’s not for Wangoi nor Wamboi!”
Why deny us the key
That would set us free
Why girls and not boys
We are human beings…… not toys!
On bended knees
For education must we beg?
In villages is severe drought
Beautiful flowers are wrought
Pretty precious petals made but nought
Ruthlessly…. Angles we are dragged
Roughly dragged but to plantations
With ferocious blades confrontations
Mindlessly…. Pretty precious petals they unmould
Harshly…. Unending pains then unfold
For mercy we cry
Till tears run but so dry
“Isn’t circumcision for women?
A sign of bad omen!”
“We are not in bomas to discuss tradition
This is an irreviewable constitution!”
“But the pain we gain
Now and again
Our brains shall strain!
‘Eeehe! We mould your mood
For your own good! Aaa
On bended Knees
For change we cry!
In furious hostile turmoil
Innocent angles we boil
As aspirations…. Parents foil
“Atieno….I’ve got u a husband
A handsome man to make your blueband!”
“But daddy I don’t want a man”
Wololoyaaaye! Nyarko! If you don’t want a man!
Then get yourself a woman!
They dump in disgust
They dump us to rust
In turmoil to last
On bended knees
For redemption we plead!
When we visit the police station
In pathetic situations
We get no solutions
But heart breaking confrontations
“haiyayayayayaaaaya!Who morested you
Why? When? Where? How? What!”
Questions without a moral fibre
But on bended knees
Humbly….. we persist and insist
“Please don’t resist to assist!”
Brigham Young once said, "You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation." Let us all strive to bring about the change that will ensure that the girl child takes up her rightful place in the classroom, because future generations depend on it.