PUT CHILDREN FIRST
ON WORLD CHILDREN’S DAY, ASSITEJ SA SAYS PUT CHILDREN FIRST
– A CALL FOR BOTHO/UBUNTU PERSONIFICATION IN TIMES OF WAR AND CONFLICT
Botho/Ubuntu is a Southern African concept that espouses the rights of human beings. It could be translated to mean, I am because you are. In this conception, there is no “other”, since what we do to others we are doing to ourselves. We are interdependent and interrelated. It is a stark reminder that we, the people, shape our desired world. All the time, consciously and subconsciously.
Tata Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela once said “there can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” We take a moment to think deeply about his words against the background of the wars and conflicts inflicting the world.
We acknowledge and repudiate the terror of wars, conflicts and atrocities, underpinned by ideologies and beliefs that affect children and young people negatively. The deep-seated interests propelling these have tremendous capacity to harm if they are not constantly re-examined and challenged. Almost all the countries of the world have signed a declaration meant to protect children, provide them with services and enable their participation. We believe this commitment must serve as a guide to shape a world that nurtures children and young people.
We take the side of all children and young people being affected by war. We acknowledge with horror that in the past month more children have died in Gaza than have been killed in conflicts around the world since 2019 [www.savethechildren.org]. The first and most fundamental right is the right to life. We align ourselves with a vision that puts children first, and demand that all leaders in diverse contexts have the courage to take decisions that envision and create a world fit for children. This means putting an immediate end to war and working actively for peaceful solutions.
ASSITEJ South Africa forms part of the ASSITEJ International Network, working for children in a way that is sensitive to their diverse contexts. This is done through inclusive Theatre and Performing arts.
Through theatre and performing arts, we have seen nations united, critiquing and shaping a world that imagines the possibilities of harmony. We invite you to sit with the concept of Botho/Ubuntu and ask what it means for you, and how you can make use of it, challenging for change, to make the world better.
We end with the words of Amanda Gorman: “… For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”
We ask, how does a world fit for children and young people look to you? How can you shape it? What actions will you take to make this possible?
– Statement from the Board of ASSITEJ South Africa
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