|The winner of the UNICEF prize for promoting child rights receives praise from UNICEF Representative in Burkina Faso Joan French (centre) and UN Resident Coordinator in Burkina Georg Charpentier.|
By Jean-Jacques Nduita
OUAGADOUGOU, Burkino Faso, 12 March 2007 – At an awards ceremony held here earlier this month, during FESPACO, Africa’s largest film festival, UNICEF honoured ‘Un matin bonne heure’ (Early One Morning) with a prize for the promotion of child rights. Guinean director Gahité Fofana received the UNICEF trophy and 2 million CFA francs.
The film calls on everyone to be concerned about the rights and well-being of children.
The award was announced by Hanaa Ouedraogo, 14, head of the UNICEF-supported youth jury for the prize on the rights of the child. Hanaa said the film impressed the panel because it particularly urges parents and all those in authority to care for children. In order to create a bright future for our societies, she added, children must be put at the heart of the development agenda.
UNICEF and other UN agencies also nominated other films promoting human rights.
The film ‘Djanta’, produced and directed by Burkinabe Tahirou Tasséré Ouedraogo, was awarded by the United Nations Population Fund with the prize for the promotion of the rights of women. In addition to its outstanding technical qualities, ‘Djanta’ won praise for its themes of equality between men and women as well as women’s economic subordination to men, their struggle against violence and their lack of access to resources.
The UN prize for the culture of peace and tolerance was awarded to the Nigerian film ‘Ezra’, which explores the issue of peace and tolerance during the conflict in Sierra Leone which involved so many child soldiers. Newton Aduaka who produced the film was also honoured with a golden stallion, FESPACO’s most prestigious award.
Improving the situation of children
The three films reminded audiences of the reality in West Africa, a region blighted by conflicts and emergencies. Incalculable damage has been done to education and health systems by war. The gender gap in the region is particularly wide and adds further to the already critical situation.
FESPACO takes place every other year in Ouagadougou.
UNICEF and the governments of West Africa are working in close collaboration to reverse the current downward trend in the situation of children, but more work is needed to sustain these initiatives.
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