Dear African Girl: An Open Letter to Our Future Women was originally published on International Women’s Day 2019 on Afro Girls by Tokunbo Kujore.
Dear African girl,
We have failed you. And for that, we are sorry.
Sorry for ignoring the cultural obstacles keeping 52 million of you from getting the proper education that you deserve. Sorry for the violence in the institutions that are meant to keep you safe and the attacks from the individuals who fear and are threatened by your potential. Sorry for failing to realize that something as minute as distance is one of the factors keeping you from learning. Sorry for the lies that we told about “free” schools. As you know, they aren’t. They are designed that way so that the people in power can continue to feed into the cycle of corruption. Sorry for idly standing by as you trade in your childhood for marriage and pregnancy. Sorry for subscribing to the idea that girls are meant to be in the home and are not capable of being leaders, entrepreneurs and change makers. You are indeed capable of all of these roles and many more if you so choose.
We battle with high unemployment rates, yet we don’t have enough teachers. We build new shops and restaurants but we don’t build schools or provide safe spaces for you to learn. We create memes on pop culture, yet we aren’t creating innovative solutions to the challenges we face. We radiate excellence in every single area and industry globally, but we are stagnant on our own continent.
Honestly, there aren’t enough apologies in the world to justify any of this. We have the power and resources to make change, but it’s more convenient to teach you to accept resilience as a lifestyle. Then we provide empty remorse in the form of a sorry to justify mediocrity. We’ve used tradition and culture to hide behind dysfunction for far too long. You deserve better, baby girl.
The truth is that your magic has the power to change the world - our world. It’s a shame that many of us don’t believe that by supporting you, by helping you reach your full potential, the entire continent will bloom. You are the secret to ending poverty, literally and mentally. It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to see this. If we could just embrace this one idea, some would stop looking at you as just an opportunity to fulfill a CSR quota and instead look at you as the queen that you are. Your voice, your magic and your power, matter. Beautiful African girl, we owe you the best.
We owe you safe, gender inclusive institutions. We owe you effective educational reform where the results produce qualified teachers and a competitive curriculum. We owe you commitment and accountability from our governments to execute on their promises. We owe you a dedicated and trustworthy people who will make sure that resources that should and will affect you are allocated responsibly.
The answer to a thriving economy for us lies in making sure that you receive the best that education has to offer and we will do everything that we can to provide you the right resources to go to school, stay in school and succeed. If the platform is not there, we will create it. If the school is not there, we will build it. If the resources are not there, we will do what we can with what we have to provide it.
We celebrate people who dare to make things better ethically, those who are fighting for you, for you to have a voice and a presence in our world. We’ll do better – now is the time to right our wrongs with action.
Our precious African girl, full of unrealized opportunities, whether you ever read this or not, by 2050 when we become the home of 1.3 billion people, we want to write a different letter to your girls about the story of Africa. A story of progress and success, full of your ingenious decisions, and void of apologies.
A better Africa.
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