It’s an open secret that people fascinate me. If we didn’t live in a world that promoted economic success to ensure survival, I would be happy to spend my days watching people get on with their lives. I get extremely excited when I think about the contents of my “People Watching Kit”. With all this said, you can imagine how excited I was to be called up to a training with a hundred African youth. MY FAVOURITE KIND OF PEOPLE. The young African boy or girl fascinates me in such a way that I can’t even begin to explain on this blog. But, I will try.
Firstly, allow me to declare the deep love I have for Africa. I feel like it is a fantastic place to live in and the people that populate it are amazing. The prospect of spending two weeks with young Africans from about 40 countries was really fascinating to say the least. These young minds were assembled by the African Union, through their Youth Volunteer Corps (AU-YVC) programme, which was training its 6th Batch. Post training, young Africans are deployed to do volunteer work with organisations from a country other than their own. It is fair to say, the selection process was rigorous and I can imagine the sleepless nights that were spent narrowing down 5000 hopefuls to the final 100 that were invited to the sessions at the University of Johannesburg. On the first night, we received our official welcome and began introducing ourselves. ‘Hi I am from Liberia’, ‘Hi I am from Egypt’, ‘Hi I am from the Central African Republic’, ‘Hi I am from Kenya’, ‘Hi I am from Angola but I am studying in Berlin’. As the introductions went on, I quickly realised that over the next two weeks, I will get my rare opportunity to meet Africa
My fascination with young African minds stems from observations. If you take a quick break from mainstream media and do some research, you will be able to see that young African are doing the most incredible things on the most incredible stages. Coming from a continent that is often associated with famine, disease and war, it makes the achievements of some of these Africans all the more impressive. For me, Africa is home and I mean that in the most literal sense. After living in 9 African countries at one time or another in my life, I have begun to associate myself with the continent rather than a single state. Do I have some favourite African countries? Of course I do, but at the end of the day my mind is focused on things that we advance us all.
When it comes to my continent, I am not as well versed as I would like to be. My selective knowledge brings me great stress because I know that Africa has a lot more to offer than I am aware of. In my quest to know more, learn more and appreciate more, I have realised that the most accurate pictures of an Africa region can only be painted by those who live in it. The AU-YVC training gave me the opportunity to meet these painters and visualize the images that they paint about the Africa I love so much. On top of all the insight that was being shared about cities, countries and regions, we had extremely component facilitators enhancing our knowledge on topics such as Pan-Africanism, key African Union organs & instruments, personal growth and leadership. Each morning, I woke up with intensive enthusiasm, knowing that the day presented me with the opportunity to speak to Africa.
During the session, we were constantly reminded of our responsibility to contribute towards the Africa we want. This message was communicated by our facilitators and visiting high level officials alike. In many ways they are not wrong, it is very evident that young people in Africa are the key to our political, social and economic aspirations. Looking around the room, day in and day out, I began to realise some of these change agents are sitting all around me. This was hardly surprising considering all the expertise that is in the 6th Batch’s arsenal; lawyers, journalists, marketing gurus, public health specialists, architects, farmers and web developers.
On the final day, we selected an African hero whose name would be used to brand us as a Batch forever. In honour of the host country and the hero that he is, we decided that the AU-YVC’s 6th Batch would carry the name of Steve Biko. Such a fitting name for such a culturally diverse, competent and united group. By the way, Steve Biko also happens to be one of my favourite African heroes, an intellectual who has no equal! 🙂
To my fellow AU-YVC; I hope that you have the most amazing experiences as you dedicate 12 months of your life to Africa’s growth. As far as I am concerned, it is a highly honourable act and one day your grand-children will get first-hand information on your contribution to the Africa that they enjoy. I can’t wait to hear all the experiences and continue to learn from each one of you.
To my fellow Africans; it is time that we begin to place our continent above personal or national successes. I am a firm believer in the notion that Africa must strive to achieve collective success and also respond collectively to failure.
For more information on the AU-YVC programme, kindly visit: http://www.africa-youth.org
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