Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the harshest and most difficult places to live in – if you get to live. Life, especially for the poor in most parts of the region is marked by an unending struggle to see through diseases, conflict, poverty, forced labour, rape and other quandaries from birth, through childhood, adulthood and even death.
In fact, the journey of a child, born of a poverty-stricken parent starts from the mother’s womb. While some women have to flee conflict-infested areas, many others have to labour and sweat just to find something to feed on.
According to the 2009 report by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on average, each day around 1,500 women die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Statistics for child survival are even dimmer as in its 2006 child survival report, UNICEF reported that the under-five mortality rate for sub-Saharan Africa was 160 per 1,000 live births, meaning that roughly 1 in every 6 children failed to reach their fifth birthday. This totals to approximately 10.5 million children under 5 years of age estimated to die every year in the world, of course the bigger percentage being from Sub-Saharan Africa.
To many of the surviving children, life never gets any better as they come to live in a sub-Saharan region grappling with a plethora of challenges from economic to social, political to climatic. A region so dire and where the poor inherit poverty from their poorer parents and plunge even deeper, where education is many a times a luxury, disease an indispensible enemy, and insipid life an inevitable scenario.
If not looked after, the situation for these children catapult from bad to worse before degenerating into a case of desperate situations calling for desperate measures.
Many find themselves braving the pungent smell and sickening sight of garbage as they sort trash and desperately scramble with flies and fungi for leftovers in dumpsites. Some, like those in nomadic places in Northern Kenya and Ethiopia, famed for cattle rustling, are “lucky” enough to know how to hold guns and riffles as early as 10-years of age. Some others become the subject of abuse, being forced into child labour with a meager or no pay, while some others, out of abject poverty and utter helplessness get absorbed into crime and grime, abusing drugs and alcohol and engaging in activities like illicit brewing.
As they grow into adulthood, most of them die while the youth blood is still running in their veins. Others become masterminds of the crime business committing crime after another, getting beatings after beatings and their lives wearing out and deteriorating by every minute count.
Some move from one correctional facility after another, before eventually ending locked up behind bars where life never changes for the better. It is sometimes in these dingy settlings stained with zero amenities to many, sexually transmitted diseases and hardcore criminals that many of them meet their death.
The life of an African boy child can only be described as desperate, unsavory, distressing, nondescript and perhaps non-existent.
What kind of a life is it if the world “struggle” is engraved in you from your mother’s womb to your grave?
And That's the Steifmastertake!