Permit me at this point to share with you some traits of the media and its practitioners that will make a difference in the lives of the African Child:
1. VISIONARY COMMITMENT to the cause of humanity as a core value. One core index of measuring of a person or organisation commitment to the cause of humanity is the unalloyed commitment to the cause of the child. “I think if we want to say that life is changing for the better, that there is an improvement that we are better off today than we were yesterday – I think that must show in the children.” – President Thabo Mbeki, Commonwealth Summit on Children, 1999
2. A SENSE OF MISSION to be a Best-interest-of-the-child media practitioner. I mean a commitment to society and its cause. It means an eye for history, which has no respect for immediate gratification or pain. The reward is kept intact for the attention of the whole wide world. Perfunctory or business-as-usual professional catches the ever-busy attention of history and posterity. Sir Eliezer “Elie” Wiesel, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, who is the author of 57 books, the best known of which is Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in two of Hitler’s concentration camps. When Wiesel, who had dedicated himself to the cause of humanity through his campaign for a world of peace was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, the Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a “messenger to mankind”, noting that through his struggle to come to terms with “his own personal experience of total humiliation and of the utter contempt for humanity shown in Hitler‘s death camps”, as well as his “practical work in the cause of peace”, Wiesel had delivered a powerful message “of peace, atonement and human dignity” to humanity. Wiesel said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.\
3. A SENSE OF MISSION GIVES BIRTH TO PASSION, which is the foundation of any successful and impact-making venture, noble or ignoble.
4. PASSION IS FUELLED BY INFORMATION. Information about a cause when properly received with a heart. This is the birth of EMPATHY. It brings us into the shoes of those whose cause we desire to plead. Donald Frank “Don” Cheadle, Junior, in 2004, played a lead role as Rwandan hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina in the genocide drama. The role opened another chapter in his life as he became aware of the evil of allowing genocide of that magnitude. He immediately began campaigns for the end of genocide in Darfur, Sudan, and co-authored a book concerning the issue titled Not On Our Watch: The Mission To End Genocide In Darfur And Beyond.
5. When media practitioner becomes fully informed and empathy is born, it is important to note that empathy comes with a twin brother, whose name is HEALTHY CURIOSITY, without which we cannot have professional direction. It means, ‘you do not just look; you see. You do not just see; you interpret and you do not just interpret, you act. You don’t just act, you act, you act fast.’
6. When EMPATHY and the HEALTHY CURIOSITY become the children of the media practitioner, they open the floodgate of CREATIVITY (originality, imagination, inspiration, ingenuity, inventiveness, resourcefulness, creativeness & vision) AND INNOVATION (novelty, modernism, modernization, improvement, advance & originality) AT THEIR BEST. Janusz Korczak aptly summed up his life thus, “the lives of great men are like legends-difficult but beautiful.” Janusz was always fighting for a better community and education for the children. He was a principal for the children houses, a doctor, and paediatrician. It was Janusz Korczak, who introduced progressive orphanages designed as just communities into Poland, founded the first national children’s newspaper; His books How to Love a Child and The Child’s Right to Respect gave parents and teachers new insights into child psychology. Generations of young people had grown up on his books, especially the classic King Matt the First, which tells of the adventures and tribulations of a boy king who aspires to bring reforms to is subjects, which central theme is child participation.
I refer to the foregoing traits as the manifestation of a visionary commitment, which I will shed light on more in the next sub-session. When this is in place it gives expression to an unflinching commitment to a regime of advocacy that sets an achievable agenda to bring to the very first burner of private and public conscience and consciousness the rights and responsibilities of the African Child for due respect in the best interest of the child.
Thank you for joining us today. I urge you to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE… Do have an INSPIRED day.