2012 Youth Summit: Welcome to the Revolution
“Every single day as I walk to school through the dirt littered paths, filled with brackish water, I long for the day I will move and erase every trace that I was ever here…” This is one of the poignant entries that I made in a journal that I kept early in life as I grew up in Kibera, one of the largest slums in Africa.
Most, if not all of the entries that I made, screamed an urgent desire to come of the slum. Beneath that desperate cry were echoes of ambition that reverberated in my heart. I wanted to be a lawyer so badly so that I can participate in weaving a society hinged on social justice. I worked very hard, got lucky and against all odds, and joined the law schooll. -
A couple of months after graduation, I attended a burial of a guy I grew up with, played house with and schooled with. He had been gunned down as a suspected criminal, just like a dozen of my other friends, s. this was very heart wrenching for me and triggered a deep desire to work with youths in my hood and other similar .if only to work together and figure a way of getting out of the slums without dying in the process. . This served as the inspiration behind Living In a Shanty Town ( L.I.S.T.) – an organization whose mission is to convene a grassroots movement of empowered youth who can initiate personal, economic, political and social change in slums.
I have always felt the story of our team captures what L.I.S.T. is all about: we are change makers who are not chained to our past. L.I.S.T is us coming together and working toward breaking the poverty cycle and creating a platform for reaching out for the support to help break the poverty cycle to do that, we don’t need charity – we need a fighting chance.
You, the wonderful S2C ambassadors, are the shining stars that the world needs to be a better place. We are living in an interconnected era and greater solidarity is needed as we make the world a new, address some global issue like poverty, climate justice and other pressing problems.
There is no better place to be than Africa. Ten years ago, “The Economist had a cover article that read: “Africa, the hopeless continent.” Recently, it another one that read: “Africa Rising.” We are privileged that in our generation, the world is looking at Africa in a new set of eyes.
Even more exciting, is the current youth demographics, over 60 % of Africa population is youth full. Young people are interrogating the realities of their continent, finding gaps and working toward new Africa realities. You, the S2C ambassadors, are a testament to the passion, focus and commitment to shape a new Africa. We have technology in our hands – social media, mobile technology – to drive our agenda. Let us not relent in our commitment. How, then, do you claim our space?
(i) Be The Change
Changing the world is not dogmatic. Neither is it philosophical. It starts with changing the small acts of injustice around us.
(ii) Be Focussed
There are many things that you can do but you don’t have to do everything. Identify a cause that you want to live for.
(iii) Better Together
Network with your peers,. there is power in numbers. Solidarity in confronting global challenges in this age of connectedness is direly needed.
I wish you well in your work and in Mahatma Gandhi words go and be the change you want to see in the world.
Our keynote speaker for the 2012 Youth Summit, Charles Abugre, Regional Director of UNDP United Millenium Campaign, (which focuses on the MDGs with a view to bringing in the citizens voice) voiced a rousing and highly motivational speech on the realities of Africa and how we can be positive about our futures. Below we publish some of his key quotes from the speech. Please note, the opinions of Mr Abugre do not necessarily represent the opinions of the United Nations.
It seems fitting that the first wave of S2C Ambassadors would graduate on the day marked internationally to honor the needs, sacrifices and struggles of African youth and children. On 16 June 1976 the uprising of youth in Soweto, South Africa, was to become the defining moment of a slow revolution. 36 years later 15 young men and women who had applied themselves diligently to youth development over the past four years were awarded their graduation certificates at a celebratory ceremony held in Kadoma, Zimbabwe. During proceedings, S2C Ambassadors paid tribute to the sacrifices of African youth and committed themselves to being the agents of change in their countries.
Many participants in receiving their certificates acknowledged the importance of the Subject 2 Citizen programme as a vehicle of change, and a tool that can be used to guard against the future abuse of children through political and social manipulation. The newly graduated S2C Ambassadors also welcomed the second wave Ambassadors and encouraged them to build on what had been created.
The Africa Alliance of YMCAs, initiators of the Subject 2 Citizen, embraced graduates with warmth and bittersweet pride as programme facilitators, Vezi Mncwango, Gil Harper and Mutale Chanda thanked participants for their dedication and encouraged them to capitalise on what they had learned to bring change in their communities.
The S2C programme has opened many doorways for participants. For Munga James Katana, the communications aspects of the programme would being him success in his career. "Through S2C, I got a job as a radio presenter in a radio station with a listenership of two million, and last year I was awarded best journalist of the year in the coastal region of Kenya," stated Munga James Katana.
Kevin Faishinou found the conflict resolution a helpful tool in his negotiations of high-level conflict. "Because of the skills I learnt from S2C, I played a huge role in stopping strikes at 2 big public universities in Togo," said Kevin Faishinou.
While the first wave S2C Ambassadors will be missed, they have left a strong legacy for the new Ambassadors to evolve.
Kadoma welcomed the opening of the 2012 Youth Summit with equal parts laughter and formality as 60 youth gathered from Europe and Africa to lend their voices to the African youth development.
The ceremony ushered in a new era for the Subject 2 Citizen youth movement, as the second wave of Ambassadors applauded the graduation of the first phase the day before, and introduced themselves to the programme. Proceedings were attended by notable Kadoma figures including, Deputy Mayor Chamunorwa Chinyarianye, Zimbabwe YMCA Chairperson, Langton Mbanga and renowned businessman, Philip Chiyangwa.
Proceedings were launched by the melodic and thoughtful reflections on youth health, masculinity and rights by lyrical quartet, Synergy, and a local inspiring poet, Talent, lent his strong voice to the dissatisfication youth feel for the manipulations of politicians who abuse their youth trust.
Mbanga expressed his appreciation for the efforts made by the global youth to advance their well-being and reminded participants that development must never be isolated from the identities of the people who are meant to benefit from it. "I am talking about the need for development that depicts our Africaness. The young must become citizens now," he concluded to resounding cheers from the participants.
Recently graduated S2C Ambassador, Peter Avong, speaking as a representative for the graduates, paid particular attention to the need for youth responsibility, "If we are responsible for our futures then anything is possible. S2C has helped us to have a paradigm shift and build our capacities so we are closer to acheiving this."
Chiyangwa, spoke of the freedoms youth need to protect to ensure their futures: "There are three degrees of freedom. Freedoms which everyone in their lives should observe and utilise to claim their space," he began. "The first is politics. It must be clear to you to know your rights and you must claim your space to influence dialogue. Second, it is very important that you respect your culture and third, the Law. Whatever happens to empower or disempower you, it is the law." For real change to take place, Chiyangwa highlighted the need to work with these three freedoms, to focus on changing these freedoms from within and to not focus instead on only one.
The Youth Summit will continue through the week and regular updates will be posted on the Youth Summit Blog and through the AAYMCA Facebook and Twitter pages.