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Opinion: What exactly is children’s day in Nigeria? – Zuriel Oduwole

Ever since I was a child, when I hear someone say, ‘Happy Birthday,’ I know that someone is being celebrated, because they are a year older. So, when I hear ‘Happy Anniversary’, I then figured out that it usually means something that involves more than one person celebrating something special. This could be like a wedding anniversary, like that of my grandparents. They have been married for 53 years, so, I understand it.

But when I hear ‘Happy Children’s Day’, at first, it seems like I understand it. Then I ask: What exactly is Children’s day? I am asking because children are born every day of the year, just like I was born. So, I asked myself, why is there one day that people choose to celebrate Children’s day?

When its someone’s birthday, there is always some kind of celebration; like a small party and your friends come around. Then if it’s a major birthday like 18, or 21, or 30, or maybe 50, then a lot of people come and the person whose birthday it is feels special. Sometimes they receive gifts or presents, and sometimes, a special treat, like a surprise to go somewhere they always wanted to go. That lets you know it’s a special day for the person. What about Children’s day? I wanted to find out what special things happen for Children’s day. After the day ends, do children really feel special like if it was your birthday? Do children all around the country receive some presents or gifts that lets them know they are celebrated? I don’t know if this is what happens.

May 27 is Children’s Day in Nigeria. The day is celebrated on different dates in the world.

Then I thought to myself, I don’t think it was children that started Children’s day. It has to be adults. Because if it was children, then you bet it would really be “Children’s day.” We would throw a party for ourselves from the start of the day to the end of the day. There can never be school or class on that day. We would buy cool gifts for ourselves, and toys for the younger children, and new clothing to wear as well. Maybe we would go to the movies, and end up in a park just screaming our heads off and playing, and catching up on social media. Yes, that’s what we would do if we were in charge of Children’s day. So, let me ask: how much of this happens during Children’s day?

Maybe for Children’s day in future, if adults still want to be in charge, then some leaders can say things like: “we would build 10 parks before the next Children’s day,” and mention the towns and communities; or say: “before the next Children’s day, we would have 5 new computer centers in each state,” and mention the towns; or things like that. That way, children know what they are getting, and then the leaders can show what they are doing.
Last month in Lagos, I hung out with my new friends at the Akande Dahisu Memorial School in Osborne Road – 150 of them. What did we do? Well, even though it was not Children’s day, we talked about ourselves, what we like to do, where we want to be in a few years, and I showed them some of my documentary clips, and talked about film making. Then we did what all children do – laughed loud, played, and took goofy pictures.

The next day, I spent time with 400 students from 12 Lagos State Public schools in Alausa, Ikeja. We talked about career and what it’s like if they want to be film makers. We laughed, played, poked fun at each other, and then we had a small workshop on film making. Sometimes, this is what we do as children, I think. So, maybe in addition to the leaders telling children what they would do for them on children’s day by this time next year, maybe they can do one more thing – create a cool and playful environment, where we youths and children can gather together [okay, with a little adult supervision – just a little], and be allowed to just be youths, and have some real fun with ourselves, and talk about what we like to see in the world, and what we like to do when we are older.

Maybe that would have a more lasting effect when people talk about Children’s day; because at least, we would have celebrated each other, talked to ourselves, and shared some of our challenges, and maybe the little we are doing that is right. I know many of the children I met had questions for me about what I do, talking to world leaders and making films; and in just answering, I learned a lot about them and they learned a lot about me. That morning, was an example of our Children’s day. So, I have a question: why can’t everyday be Children’s day? We promise to behave.  After all, somehow, it seems every day is ‘Adults’ day.’ Just turn on the news, or open the newspapers, you would see what I mean. I hope Children’s day in 2018 would really be a great time to look forward to, for all children, but especially those in Nigeria.

This article was written by Zuriel Oduwole and culled from the Guardian News.

Solomon Obende
Solomon Obende is a graduate of Public Administration from the prestigious Ambrose Alli University who is passionate about communications for development. He is proficient in crafting effective social media strategies. He listens to Jimmy Cliff's songs daily.

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