(Pictures above of Justice for Africa action on 20th October in Nigeria)
On October 20th 2023, a day before Africa Human Rights Day, the Justice for Africa campaign held its second global mobilisation, with more youth- and student-led organisations from more countries participating than their inaugural mobilisation earlier this year.
The global day of action showcased the remarkable determination, partnership and solidarity of students, youth activists and survivors of human rights abuses, including child labour survivor advocates, across the world. Driven by a shared goal of delivering the right to education for all in Africa, activists not only held youth-focused events but also actively claimed and asserted their and their peer’s socio-political rights.
Of the $4 trillion cost attributed to the injustice facing African children and young people the campaign is targeting, a staggering $3.8 trillion has international roots. Justice for Africa activists, therefore continued to adopt a multi-faceted approach for their advocacy and mobilisation on 20th October, simultaneously tackling national and international injustices, such as domestic investment in education and global tax injustice, and demonstrating the links between them.
STRONG, LOUD AND DIVERSE ACTIONS
The Justice for Africa campaign is led by students, youth activists, and survivor advocates themselves who decide on the most effective type of action for their context, leading to a variety of tactics during global mobilisations. In Tanzania, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), there were marches in Dar es Salaam, Pemba Island, Monrovia and the mining town of Uvira, respectively, all targeting local decision-makers to demand quality education and an end to child labour. In Tanzania, the action attracted over 1,000 participants; in Liberia, the National Student Union joined youth activists to march to the ECOWAS office, and in the DRC, school children and young advocates ended up outside the Uvira’s mayor’s office, where they deposited their petition demanding quality education for all.
(Pictures above from left-right of Justice for Africa actions on 20th October in Tanzania, Liberia and the DRC)
In South Sudan, Guinea, Namibia and Nigeria, activists held rallies, photo stunts and dialogues to raise awareness in schools, with student activists in Namibia emphasising Ubuntu philosophy, where no African child is left behind. Youth activists and survivor-advocates in Cameroon used the media to advocate for Justice for Africa on the radio and television across the Eastern region of the country. Similarly, in Sierra Leone, committed to engaging a broad audience on the campaign’s demands to end poverty, inequality and debt injustice, activists extended their actions beyond the Marforki Chiefdom community to radio discussions on Bankasoka FM in Port Loko District.
(Pictures above from left-right, top - bottom of Justice for Africa actions on 20th October in South Sudan, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Sierra Leone)
In Eswatini, the Swaziland Youth Empowerment Organization (LUVATSI) expected 100 vulnerable young people and students to participate in their Justice for Africa regional dialogue in Shiselweni at Madulini community, yet almost 200 turned up to share their perspectives and experiences of education injustice. Youth activists in Zambia exemplified the power of community-driven initiatives, harnessing the power of sports as an educational and awareness-raising tool to demand justice with a march followed by a football match in the Sansamwenje Community of Isoka District. In Burundi and Uganda, student leaders held intergenerational forums with decision-makers from the national government and in Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe, students held Justice for Africa action workshops, including creating placards and wristbands and holding rallies. In Ghana, the national student unions collaborated with the All Africa Students Union to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Education ahead of October 20th, deciding to visit Dzorwulu Special School on the day of action, followed by a protest and media engagement on the needs of children with disabilities.
(Pictures above from left-right, top - bottom of Justice for Africa actions on 20th October in eSwatini, Zambia, Burundi, Uganda, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Ghana)
SOLIDARITY BEYOND AFRICA
Considering the international roots of many of the injustices facing Africa, solidarity from outside the continent is a critical part of the Justice for Africa movement, especially on global days of action. On October 20th, young feminists from Trinidad and Tobago led digital actions and made solidarity wristbands, amplifying the crucial aspect of gender justice of the campaign’s demands. In Indonesia, student activists collaborated with international students from the Gambia to hold a photo stunt, write solidarity messages and make wristbands. In the UK, students at the University of Glasgow hosted a pop-up stall during Black History Month, using beads to make wristbands and distribute flyers about the Justice for Africa campaign. Young people and students from various states across the USA also came together to take action in a strong show of solidarity with their African peers, including in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington DC, Connecticut, New York and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.
(Pictures above from left-right, top - bottom of Justice for Africa solidarity actions on 20th October in Trinidad and Tobago, Indonesia, the UK, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, New Jersey and Washington DC)
ADVOCATING FOR CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES
Achieving Justice for Africa’s main demand of delivering the right to education across Africa means recognising that education injustice is intrinsically linked with other forms of injustice facing children and young people on the continent. A child’s right to go to school is connected to their right to health, their right to be free from child labour, and their right not to be forced into early marriage or experience abuse of any kind. Understanding this, youth activists strategically advocate for cross-cutting issues within Justice for Africa, focusing on fostering holistic and lasting change in children and young people’s lives.
In Burundi, Nigeria, Liberia and Tanzania, activists are demanding an end to child labour alongside the right to education. In Cameroon and Sierra Leone, campaigners are exposing the negative impact of mining in the regions they operate in, both in terms of child labour exploitation and the extraction of resources that increase the profits of corporations from high-income countries and drain money from the local community. Young people and students in Malawi and Zimbabwe are demanding action on unsustainable debt and human rights, being firm in the belief that ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’, and South Sudan is focusing on the rise of child marriage across the country.
The campaigns in Ghana and Eswatini strive for not just access to but inclusivity within educational structures, especially for disabled and rural students. In Uganda, the focus is on the right to health, highlighting the role of global injustices in undermining health spending and the ensuing consequences this has on vulnerable young people, especially refugees.
The majority of the national mobilisations also called for an end to poverty and inequality, such as in Zambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Botswana, and zero tolerance for gender inequality or gender-based violence.
SURVIVORS OF INJUSTICE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THE MOVEMENT
At the heart of the campaign is not only amplifying but also centring survivors' voices, recognising their leadership in the effort to end the injustices they have experienced. In Liberia, Janet, a child labour survivor-advocate, spearheaded their action by leading a march in the streets of Monrovia. Survivor-advocates of child labour and human trafficking in Cameroon led actions in media advocacy and awareness in primary schools across the Bertoua region’s refugee camps, and a former child soldier organised the entire day of action in South Sudan.
(Picture above of Janet in Liberia leading their Justice for Africa march on October 20th)
In Tanzania, Nigeria and the DRC, survivor-advocates were also at the forefront of public marches, while in Uganda, Burundi, Ghana and Cameroon, survivor-advocates, including refugees, were not only participants but speakers in the various demonstrations and events, sharing their testimonies and demanding justice.
Engaging decision-makers to accelerate impact
Students, youth activists, and survivor advocates directly engaged duty-bearers at the local and national level as part of their Justice for Africa mobilisations on October 20th.
For example, in Ghana, student leaders held discussions with the deputy education minister, Hon. Ntim Fordjour, following a petition they had presented to him on the rights of disabled students. As a result, the minister committed to releasing funding for special education schools across the country, and activists will follow up to ensure their promise is delivered.
Youth activists in Cameroon engaged community leaders, including His Royal Highness S.M Mekene Diamond, Chief of Diang, Divisional Officer Mr Essomba Francis, and the military commander, Mr Fobenh George and in Namibia, they continued engagements with the National Children's Council. In Burundi, they actively collaborated with three senators, Hon Vicent Sukunoba, Carine Belyse Dukundana and Ndutura Nibitanga, who represent vulnerable groups, including children and indigenous people. Additionally, representatives from the Ministry of Civil Service, Public Service and Labor, and Employment were present during Burundi’s action.
In Tanzania, the District Commissioner of Kinondoni and representatives from the police force, teachers union and other local government leaders were part of their mobilisation in Dar es Salaam. In Zanzibar, Pemba Island, they worked with Chakechake District Education Officer Honourable Burhan KH. Juma, Ward executive officers Nassor Mohd Kamis and Khamis Sulemain Ally, religious leader Sheikh Harith Suleiman and the National Youth Chairperson Rushda KH.Khamis.
In Eswatini, a Member of Parliament and other community leaders actively participated in sessions with students and young people, with the MP expressing a commitment to support the work of Luvatsi and pledged to engage in future Justice for Africa planning meetings.
(Pictures above from left-right of Justice for Africa actions on 20th October in Tanzania and Ghana)
As activists against systemic injustices embedded in structures of power for generations, Justice for Africa understands that the transformative change won’t happen overnight, regardless of how urgently it might be needed. That’s why between the first global mobilisation on February 20th, 2023 and their second on October 20th, Justice for Africa activists have been continuously advocating for the campaign's demands at the local, national and international levels, and they show no sign of slowing down. From following up on promising meetings and petitions with decision-makers, organising more community awareness and outreach sessions, to collaborating as a global team to plan their next international target, Justice for Africa is just getting started.
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