It can hardly be sieved-the difference between Civil Society and the governments, of course those in governance, elites and the a few who’ve come across this knowledge in a higher learning institutions can; leaving the majority at crossroads. Most education curriculums in Africa aren’t designed this way that Human Rights are ventured into at a later stage not early stage; yet it wouldn’t be expensive if it was otherwise.
Human Rights Vs African beliefs and norms
When one talks of ‘Human Rights’, in Africa this paints a contradicting picture. For instance, in the most traditional African societies the ‘elders’ are meant to be respected and highly regarded as blameless whose orders and decisions are taken unquestionably; a child would never come out and claim to be punished (even under mistreatment) in line with fighting for their rights or a woman over taking a lead in decision making. Yes, this is changing, but slowly and not entirely.
A lady enlightened how rights could simply be taught- from a simple perspective; it’s just a sense of objectivity of how all human beings should be treated, a fair treatment for all that in the end maintains peace in society. So, child rights, women rights, workers’ rights to mention but a few may from a broad sense from the African perspective be seen as a disgrace to society.
It may broadly be seen and sensed as a form of selfishness; that most people are still naïve about Human Rights, who and what Civil Society organisations are and as to why all this isn’t directly incorporated into the curriculum at an early stage. Of course, this is the governments’ role and form of sensitization.
Most African citizens should be blamed less for ignorance about Human Rights, since in one way or another they back lash with the African norms and customs and make governments in power unease. Hope an calmer remedy can be sought soon.
It is at this discussion at Goethe institute in Kigali that I further realized what the common people-that matter most do ever miss out!
Our main center of focus was ‘Human Rights’ and the panelists mainly constituted of representatives from civil society organizations. And ofcourse as an interesting discussion can be; the panelists did their first bit of breaking down the topic and pondering on issues closer and related to it, then minutes later it was opened for the house to be engaged.
The world today is under various leadership and political systems and yes, as civilization came; with it much more was born and to this day continues to be nurtured.
Human Rights is a word that today appears back and forth-as political obligations and aspirations are continuously raised everywhere. Governments, under different leadership especially in Africa are continuously pointed at and cautioned by the western world through organizations against the abuse and dishonor of Human Rights; of course in most societies where wars, ambushes, anonymous murders and freedom of press are rampant, this all provides a straight platform for accusations of ‘Human Rights Abuse’
Most African leaders do in turn point back to the accusers- due to the fact that the discomfort of the pressure is unbearable, that they are just being discriminative in their actions; Why is the International Criminal Court mainly focus their attention onto African leaders?, are they the only ones abusing the rights of people?!
See, in the ‘democratic’ leadership today, principles are put up and clearly stipulated by a Government but if they were to be fully implemented as designed in the first place, then the world wouldn’t be what is dreamt of a ‘paradise’.
As part of the government’s roles is to protect the people’s rights. Bodies which like ‘Civil Society Organisations’ are then established to further help; mainly with a role of sensitizing and giving people a platform to realize and claim for their rights. CSOs are to further act as watchdogs, guide and caution governments on issues that won’t violet human rights.
As a matter of fact, most CSOs have been set up by the governments in rule, so a strong possibility of governments acting ‘Am the law or the law is under my might’ happens. What happens when the government meant to protect human Rights doesn’t?
Ignorance of Rights
Knowing, acknowledging and implementation of Human Rights doesn’t come in handy; Dr. Peter Stepan says it took most of Europe hundreds of years to get where they are when it comes to this. Africa has just and is still in the transformation of most leadership systems-of course which are new to us all, and we are yet there.
Reality is that, a peasant has no clue of what ‘Human Rights’ are and why and how they should matter; to most Civil Societies are not known and ignorance of one’s right sometimes (if not most) saves them; since the few who are informed and willingly come out to claim or fight for them (rights) are seen as posing a great threat to the oppressor.
These days, by most, Civil Society is mistaken to be ‘political Rights’ not ‘Civil Rights’, maybe because CSOs are nurtured by political systems in power…
The weaker gender!-no more, to only cook, deliver children, stay home accomplishing the chores or do farm work she was meant.
Not a word of advice-however developmental could be heard from her in meetings but only to listen, abide and implement whatever the idea was from the ‘Men’. Not even in their own marriage did she have a say!
This has been a Woman of late, worldwide; yes, not only in Africa has she been through that all. It has taken real time and hardwork and sensitization raising a woman to where she is this day.
From the backyard to the Office- as Employers, behind the wheels as Drivers, in lecture as Lecturers, to holy places as Church leaders, in the media as Journalists, on to the stage as outstanding celebrities to sport fields as Sports personnels; even to the ‘parliament as Political leaders’; yes, leaders- who could ever imagine this!
Because of this all, realization of the similar ability which for long lies hidden in a ‘Woman’; Today, even single mothers and widows stay strong and focussed to take on all responsibility there is…
A great symbol of love; passion and care they breed. Just as Mother Theresa of Calcutga was quoted, ‘Peace begins with a smile,’ peace and hamony they build; a child’s first sight will be a ‘smile in it’s mother’s face’, right from the smallest unit of the society-a family, so a role so big they play in nation building from the roots.
‘Gender connecting grass root women to development’ is the theme in this year’s ‘International Women’s Day’. Indeed, many women still are faced with oppression in some of the parts worldwide.
Though her potential and role has been realised and appreciated, this gender still is undermined by some people in most societies worldwide.
The fact that this pride has also been abused by even a woman herself can’t be hidden far, preserving it is a challenge that has to be faced by a generation ahead.
She not only bears labour pains, humiliation, harassment and false accusations but also sacrifice and patience.
A mother gives to her child expecting nothing in return- a great sacrifice she does all her life to you at whatever age.
Blessed indeed they are that inspire every first generation of one’s life. An exemplary life she lives, a determination and patience she carries with her. A lead she deserves in the world’s building and betterment.
Imagine how this world would turnout, without her!