AfricaAfrican Youth Leaders Tell UN: We Are Force for Change

AAYP Press Release

African youth activists called on the international community Wednesday to view the 220 million young people on their continent as a positive force for change, not a problem requiring solutions.

“We must change the narrative about African youth to become a narrative of collective, positive actors, among the most informed, the most resilient generation of Africa,” said Aya Chebbi, the African Union’s special envoy on youth.

The growing youth population is often viewed as a potential time bomb for the continent, as governments struggle to provide education and good jobs to the millions of young people seeking a better life. Recruitment by armed groups and migration away from the continent have increased, as the root causes of hopelessness are not adequately addressed.

Youth envoy Chebbi, a Tunisian national who had large cutouts of African continents dangling from her earlobes, told the U.N. Security Council that negative narratives can be dangerous.

“It is disempowering,” Chebbi said. “Many young people have internalized the idea that they are marginalized and now see these violent groups as legitimate fighters, not perpetrators of violence. So we have to value our youth and their contribution to society; they will look for recognition elsewhere if we don’t.”

“If the right investments in youth are made, and their social, political and economic engagement recognized and nurtured, societies may reap a peace dividend,” said the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Africa Bience Gawanas.

She noted that across the continent the youth are demanding urgent action and are making their voices heard.

“From Algeria, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, young people are at the center of pro-democracy movements, effectively mobilizing, organizing, leading and clamoring for inclusive and accountable governance, youth participation and economic opportunities for all,” she said.

Wednesday’s Security Council debate was convened around the African Union initiative to ‘silence the guns by 2020’ and end conflict on the continent. It coincided with the International Day for Non-violence.

“We want youth to give up the guns, but can we answer the big question in the mind of a 19 or 20 year-old: Who am I? What are we offering them?” Youth envoy Chebbi asked.

Hafsa Ahmed, 27, joined the meeting via a video link from Nairobi, Kenya, where she is a co-founder of the NGO Naweza.

She said African youth face “deep rooted obstacles” to meaningful participation in peacebuilding efforts, which are traditionally the domain of the older generation.

“When young people are involved and brought to the table, it is often tokenistic and our needs and interests are often reduced to issues of education and employment, when we actually have diverse needs as youth — and the capacity to contribute to the biggest challenges facing our communities and our world,” Ahmed said.

Ugandan activist Victor Ochen recounted how many of his dreams were ruined because his childhood was spent in an internally-displaced persons camp. He told council members via video from Kampala that he made the conscious decision not to be recruited at a time when young boys around him were targeted.

“I was pondering whether picking up the gun to fight was the way to go, but something in me kept on telling me war is not option, you need an end to suffering, picking up the gun will only escalate suffering,” Ochen said. “I chose peace.”

At the age of 13 he started a peace club in the IDP camp to discourage recruitment of child soldiers. He later went on to found the African Youth Initiative Network to transform trauma into an opportunity for leadership and build peace.

“I can say it is very difficult for something good to come out of a life of conflict,” he said.

He urged governments to improve the quality of life for their citizens, address inter-ethnic issues and called on the international community to abandon sanctions, saying they do not work against the state as intended, but affect ordinary people.

Source VOA


Don’t Be a Lazy Youth!

By Azugbene Solomon

The uncomfortable reality when you decide to go after your dreams is that at times it can be a very difficult and painful process. Nothing is free in this world, and if you really want to do the extraordinary, you will be called to make sacrifices.

“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” — Nikola Tesla

Think clearly about this. The process starts with you having a feeling of fulfillment when you study, focus and work on what you deeply value. Maybe it’s protecting the environment, changing the lives of children through education, developing new technologies that take humanity forward. It can be anything. I mostly value exploring the power of ordinary people to do the extraordinary.

Probably you’ve read before that is important for you to have a vision but this is just partially true. The vision is actually the outcome of your inner values. The vision may be blurry, but if you move forward from what you deeply value, this will create a sense of purpose and the vision will unfold along the way. The process starts within you when you honestly become aware of what you value and embrace it. This is your inner world.

Then, ideas begin to form in your mind of how you can transform this sense of purpose into reality. These ideas depend on your knowledge, your competence and their implementation depends on many external factors. This is the outer world.

The key to your success is finding the way to bridge the inner world with the outer world. How do you transform your passion and what you most value into a tangible benefit for the world so that it becomes sustainable? You transform your enthusiasm into a product or a business through your competence, knowledge and skills.

Unfortunately, when you lack the competence and the patience to acquire practical knowledge about the outer world, you challenge yourself and your inner world. You don’t say, “I know I am worthy to live my dream, I so greatly value this road that I will keep learning and working until I discover the way to make it happen.” Rather you unconsciously tend to think: “I am not good enough,” “Who am I to deserve this,” “I don’t think it’s possible,” etc.

When you lack the competence and the knowledge, never doubt yourself and never challenge your self worth. Simply understand that you need to put more work, do more research and create the competence to transform your dream into reality.

Think clearly about this. It’s never the extraordinary people who do the extraordinary. It’s the ordinary people like you and me who decide to step out, get up off their knees and take the journey. Because they complete the journey, ordinary people like you become extraordinary. You are worthy. Don’t be lazy.

For some, life is a waiting game. People wait for better timing or for the right moment. One day – they think – they will have all the right cards on their hands and opportunity will knock on their door, just like that. They won’t even have to get their butts off the comfy couch.

Nothing in life happens just like that. Opportunities are made, not given. Successful people get what they want because they work for it, they earn it. So if you’re looking for advice on how to succeed in life, here it is: Stop. Being. Lazy.

1. – You are worthy by Dragos Bratasamu
2. – Life is short by Sophia Amoruso