CAPE TOWN - Children should be educated and not enslaved, cartoonist Bethuel Mangena said on Monday, leading up to the commemoration of World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.
Mangena, African News Agency cartoonist, will join cartoonists and illustrators from around the world in protesting child labour through their art in a global campaign with Cartoons For Change. His cartoon will be used as the poster for the campaign.
Mangena said Guatemalan activist and Cartoons For Change founder, Fernando Morales-de la Cruz, reached out to him on social media to ask if he would be part of the initiative.
"I didn't think twice about it even though I'm not getting paid for it. For me, it's better to be part of a good cause that fights for peoples' rights and dignity – that makes me feel like I'm contributing something to make this world a better place to live in," he said.
Speaking about his cartoon, which depicts a young child with a chain around his neck being dragged away from school, Mangena said he wanted to come up with an idea that was simple, yet would send a strong message.
"To me child labour is not different from slavery, hence using the image of child who is chained and dragged away from school to go work for these multi national companies and is in turn paid nothing, losing their freedom and future," he said.
"I can also place child labour in the same category as human trafficking as most of them end up dead or sold all over the world. We need to stand up and protect the rights of our future leaders."
Mangena joins other cartoonists, illustrators and creative professionals who will use their talent and creativity in defence of children who are victims of exploitation, Morales-de la Cruz said.
He said Cartoons For Change wanted to creative professionals to "protest against the cruel reality suffered by more than 152 million child labourers, a number estimated by the International Labor Organisation (ILO)".
"It is absolutely unacceptable, cruel and illegal that 70 years after signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 30 years after adopting the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the coffee, tea and chocolate consumed at the United Nations and in the centres of power and influence of the world, where they claim to support and promote the Sustainable Development Goals, are produced with child labour," Morales-de la Cruz said.
"There is an urgent need to stop the exploitation of hundreds of millions of girls and boys. There are too many industries, such as chocolate and coffee, in which child labor continues to increase, because it is highly profitable for multinationals."
Cartoons For Change will be published by the media and shared via social media.