1998 • KEYNOTE SPEAKER FROM SOUTH AFRICA
Growing up in the Cape, Zurayah had first hand experience of the hardships suffered by her community but, in particular, the burdens placed upon their children. Following the death of her mother, Zurayah had to care for her younger siblings. The responsibilities she bore were onerous and caused her to lose the joy of experiencing her own childhood years.
for her family in an inner city area was difficult enough but was compounded
when the ruling administration declared that her environment
be cleared to make way for white occupation. It was this ruling that
created an awareness, not only to Zurayah but also to her neighborhood,
that personal security and comfort could not to be taken for granted. It
also gave Zurayah her first taste of apartheid and the effect it would
have on her life and the lives of her community.
1986, she joined Molo Songololo (a Xhosa expression meaning Hello Millipede),
a child rights organization concerned with the survival, development and
protection of children and their rights. The organization symbolizes
the unity of children from diverse communities, working together for the
advancement of society.
She was charged with sedition on the grounds of national security interests and it would be four years before the case was dropped against her.
Today, Zurayah is a recognized speaker at national and international seminars on children's rights and she has widely addressed the issues of poverty. Molo Songololo has grown in stature and a highlight was its hosting of the first Children's Summit on the Rights of Children in South Africa. At this summit the Children's Charter of South Africa was compiled which led to a special clause on children's rights being added into the country's constitution.
In addition, Molo Songololo has hosted an International Film Festival, created a forum for children to address parliament and the constitutional assembly on children's issues and also facilitated a submission by children to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
It is Zurayah's belief that children's rights will only be enhanced when they form a pillar of democratic governance and are recognized internationally.