On Monday, June 17, 2024, the Jesuit Urumuri Centre brought together members of the AHAPPY Generation clubs from partner schools to celebrate the International Day of the African Child. This day, observed annually on June 16, commemorates the struggle of African youth for their basic rights.


Students from each of the 12 participating schools showcased plays, poems, and songs centered around this year’s theme: “Education for All Children in Africa: The Time is Now.”


The event was attended by Rev. Fr. Tite Mutemangando, SJ, Admonitor of the Regional Superior of Jesuit Rwanda-Burundi and Superior, Socius, and Chaplain of Christus Centre, Rev. Fr. Ernest Ngiyembere, SJ, who is the Director of Jesuit Urumuri Centre; and Jesuit guests Eric Chikanya, SJ, and Benjamin Togoum, SJ. Judges for the student exhibitions included Rev. Fr. Pierre Celestin Musoni, SJ, Prudence Kayiranga, SJ, and Pacifique Iradukunda, SJ.


Fr Ernest Ngiyembere, SJ and Fr Tite Mutemangando, SJ

In his welcoming speech, Fr. Ernest expressed his gratitude to the AHAPPY club members and their teachers for their attendance and the creative exhibitions they prepared. He emphasized the importance of participation over competition, assuring the students that their involvement in the clubs is already a victory:


“As you are all aware, we remember this day because of the Soweto uprising in 1976 during which South African youth protested the use of a foreign language in schools, resulting in many deaths. Today, we are here to protest too, we are not here to compete. But protest calmly. We’re here to protest against those who exploit you, infect you with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, impregnate young girls leading to school dropouts, and influence you into drug abuse.”


He further highlighted the significance of these protests by Rwandan youth against these threats:


“The youth we remember today were shot down with guns during their protests. Your lives are at risk too when you encounter people who want to devalue your lives. The AHAPPY Generation program is a safe space where you can protest and discuss these challenges and temptations in order to encourage each other and to stay steadfast on your moral journeys towards successful futures.”



The exhibitions emphasized inclusion for all, highlighting the stigma that mentally and physically disabled children face in society. After attentively following these performances, Fr. Tite, the guest of honor, expressed his heartfelt gratitude. He appreciated the profound messages conveyed through the exhibitions and expressed his delight at seeing the modern society advocating for the eradication of stigma.


He further encouraged the youth to adhere to the teachings of the AHAPPY Generation club to avoid future pitfalls:


“Sometimes you all encounter street children or the homeless on the streets, often due to not having heeded the advice of parents, teachers, or the Church. I urge you, as you have shown today, to be a light (Urumuri) to others; teach your classmates, communities, and other children that they have the right to education and stay in school. Dear youth, our future, remain vigilant, do not become a statistic. Make us proud, we believe in you, we love you.”



Towards the end of the event of the day, the three best performing schools were awarded cash prizes. All clubs were also sent back to their schools with one thousand (1000) customized exercise books to distribute to other club members who were unable to attend the event.


The celebration of the International Day of the African Child by the Jesuit Urumuri Centre and AHAPPY Generations clubs was a poignant reminder of the importance of education and the ongoing struggles faced by African youth. The event not only honored the past but also inspired hope and resilience in the next generation, urging them to be advocates for their own rights and the rights of their peers.


Henriette Mushimiyimana

JUC Communications Officer.