The Cry of an African Child

By Bushiri Mlondani

My name is Kofi and I’m a young child who lives in a small community that is in the middle of a vast African savannah.

Each time the sun rises, reflection of trouble and wonderings are awakened. Although it’s a lovely sight, it is also a journey to start another restless day.

The long grass surrounding our mud-brick cottages are starting to ruffle in the evening winds and I can’t help but think about the cry that has grown incredibly familiar. The cries of agony, hunger, and crushed dreams could all be heard.

No one appears to be able to escape the symphony of sadness that chimed through the community like a child’s cry melody.

The village elders congregate in front of a crackling fire, the flickering flames casting a glow on their features. They talk quietly about the drought that has engulfed our country and the food shortage that has become a regular occurrence. My young mind struggles as I pay close attention.

Drought has attacked our village for 5 years now, no food to eat and drinking water has been a problem. Sometimes the chief and some elders of the village travel for very long distances searching for food and water to drink while kids remain home starving.

Each day, I watch as my father and the village elders head out before dawn, their backs bent under the weight of hope and determination, searching for any sign of water and any green shoot that might offer a glimpse of relief. But each day, they return with empty hands, while the worry lines on their forehead grow deeper.

The cry of hunger becomes louder with each passing day. Stomachs ache, and strength flies. Mothers holding their infants, their faces stamped with a mixture of love and helplessness.

The laughter of children once a constant backdrop to our lives has faded into a distant memory. Each time I walked around my village, tears of sadness pushed me to work harder to change my village’s situation.

My best friend, Amina and I often sit by the riverbed, staring at the cracked earth that once held life. We talk about the dreams we used to have, the adventures we wanted to embark upon. But now, our dreams have been replaced by the harsh reality of survival.

One evening, as the sun dipped below the horizon and the cry of the village faded into the night, Amina leaned close and whispered, “Kofi, we can’t let this be our fate. We have to do something.” Her words ignited a spark within me, a spark that refused to be extinguished.

With newfound determination, Amina and I set out to find a way to fight the suffering that plagues our village. We ventured deep into the wilderness, guided only by the faint hope that there might be answers beyond the horizon.

Days turn into weeks as we journeyed through unfamiliar terrain, facing challenges and dangers we could never have imagined. But Amina’s brave spirit and the memory of the cries that have haunted us drove us forward. We encountered strangers along the way, people who shared our struggle and offered a helping hand.

Together, we learnt about sustainable farming practices, ways to conserve water, and methods to restore the land. We gathered knowledge like precious gems, knowing that it holds the key to changing our lives and the lives of those we love.

When we returned to the village, we realized that change is never easy, and the path we proposed required hard work and collective effort. But we refused to be silenced. We organized meetings, shared our newfound knowledge and inspired others to join us in our mission.

Slowly but surely, the cry of the African child began to change. It transformed from a cry of despair to a cry of hope, a call that echoed through the village and beyond. With united determination, we began to restore our land, nurturing the earth back to life.

A tear slides down my cheek as I stand among the flourishing crops. The cries that used to haunt my dreams have been replaced by the jubilant noises of life, of progress and of a future we dared to imagine. All the village elders were overjoyed with hope.

The cry of the African kid will always be one of hope, of overcoming adversity and of the unbreakable, I know this as long as we stand as Africans, we can make it.


29 August, 2023