Every year in December, there is an annual worldwide celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, probably one of the most important documents in history. In 2018, at the Alliance Français in Nairobi, there was an amazing event that saw a large number of artivists, musicians, actors and NGOs converge to celebrate70 years since the signing of the declaration in Paris. It was a unique and memorable event that catered for everyone, regardless of gender, age or race. Skits were acted out; spoken word artists took to the podium. And I should not neglect to mention that the list of talented performers included children too. Of course, music graced the occasion – and not the type of music that has you questioning your existence in the presence of your parents but the good, fun music that had everyone in a jolly mood.
Pardon the skeptic in me but I have to put this out there: If someone was to walk up to you and ask you how you have benefitted since the fight for equal human rights was made a priority, what would your answer be? That answer would be unique to every individual, mainly because of our different backgrounds. That is an undeniable fact, one we cannot ignore or overlook. I am a skeptic, I question everything and try to reason out a solution or a better understanding, but deep down I will always appreciate and celebrate every achievement towards a better world.
It has been 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I have been around for only some of that time, and when I read about the human suffering and atrocities that our parents, grandparents and the generations before them lived through, I feel a distinct sense of relief. Mankind has been on quite a journey, and sadly it is one that seems to constantly involve detours, bumps and red lights. This raises the question of just how effective this declaration has been in our everyday lives.
Let me put it this way, we have witnessed how heartless humans can be. After all, the declaration came at the end of World War 2, one of the worst mass exterminations in human history. We now have a document to protect us from our own kind, to guide us away from our secret dark nature. We have guidelines for treating each other as equals, making abuse and discrimination wrong. A long journey still lies ahead, but the fact that these instructions have been recorded makes them much easier to legislate. It makes it easier to look out for one another; to know what to look out for. It makes it clear that every human, regardless of physical, mental or emotional limitation, is entitled to be treated as just that, a human. Surely that is worth celebrating?