By: Edna Ninsiima
“Africa could be so much better and the responsibility is with all its young people. The question is; are you going to rise to the challenge?”
The East Africa Youth Leadership Summit was off to a good start this morning with youth from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan and Tanzania in attendance. The first panel explored the Role of Youth in Championing values of Good Governance. The key points to note included: the need for transparency in systems and decision making as well as accountability of ourselves and others. Ruth Namara, Country Director of Destiny Institute International in Uganda stressed the need for education in terms of skill and knowledge acquisition. She also called upon the youth to be proactive. “Why should we wait for things to happen first for us to demand for inclusion in spaces and our rights?”
Women youth legislators from Tanzania and Uganda consecutively; Honorables, Upendo Peneza and Sarah Babirye emphasized participation.
“We must define who we are and therefore how we want to contribute to our society. That includes seeking information and stepping up to opportunities as they come.” – Honorable Upendo said.
Hon. Babirye added that we’re all politicians starting from our family units and that we must start there in making a difference. Bobi Odiko of the East African Legislative Assembly stressed self-introspection, use of social media to effect change and reading.
In the afternoon presentation on The Many Faces of Underdevelopment in Africa, Ivan Atuyambe of MSTCDC spoke on gender inequality and the need to break social constructs that curtail the freedoms of women and other less privileged people. Ivan also broke down the rule of law, the idea that it is because leaders themselves break the law that citizens too disregard it and conflict leading to violence.
The second panel conversation delved into Youth as The Answer to the Transformational Leadership challenge in East Africa. Mr. Ndyaguma sought an answer to how youth who have been deliberately sidelined from governance can effect transformational leadership; to which Hon. Upendo reechoed accountability in terms of those with access creating spaces for others and the others availing themselves take up these spaces. The Member of Parliament of the 11th Parliament also challenged the youth to take responsibility in transformational leadership and do the work. A heated blame game ensued, with passionate rebuttals to her thought. The audience challenged her privilege, asking if she was aware that she was the exception to the rule. Many said that they have worked hard enough and still not got the opportunities.
The multi-faceted conversation which was next, had youth attendants presenting ideas and thoughts from the day’s discussions. From our leaderships identifying youth’s strength’s and supporting those as opposed to thinking for them, to the land tenure systems and how they frustrate youth who would otherwise be interested in agriculture. MC Benny, a spoken word artiste and rapper spoke about rejecting stereotypes about artistry and occupying spaces. Angelina from South Sudan challenged us all to work towards ending corruption in our different capacities.
So, are we rising to the challenge? Perhaps. Is our leadership availing systems to support the youth’s efforts? Maybe not satisfactorily. Discussions continue tomorrow.
Photos by: Fahad Fuad