By Edna Ninsiima
“Change begins home where you are,” Raphael Obonyo, one of the panelists wraps up his introductions in which he has called upon young people to occupy and claim spaces where they can influence. A resolve that has been made from day 1 well into the fourth day, now at the East African Community headquarters. The conversation is on The EAC Youth Policy and Governments’ Responsiveness to Youth Needs.
The question: Do governments listen to youth? Stephen Machua thinks that it is only in Rwanda and Kenya that there’s been a notable responsiveness.
Yet we have excellent youth policies, so where is the challenge? “Our policies are perfect for holding leaders accountable, but they’re not self-actualizing.” Raphael proposes that while we ask for accountability on whether policies have been drafted, we must also seek accountability for implementation. On slow progress, he recommends what he terms as; “cross pollination” in reference to sharing ideas, trading and moving together. “As of now, we’re not doing that much.” Honorable Upendo agrees.
What are the entry points of taking youth policies to the next step? East African Youth Council that will tackle both issues of regional importance and those at National level. Honorable Sarah Babirye proposes. Mr. Obonyo thinks that to even wait for an East African Youth Council to be formed is stalling. He thinks that with the enthusiasm that has been displayed during this summit by all youth leaders present, ideas are ripe for implementation if synergies are created and networks maintained.
In reactions: Jeremiah from Uganda proposes that the East Africa Youth Summit venue rotates between countries of the East African Community, and Carol from Tanzania challenges the state-based inequality on the panel citing the absence of a South Sudan and Burundi delegate. Michael from Kenya seeks a solution for the Kenya – Uganda Migingo Island disputes one in which his brother, a fisherman was killed – to which Sarah reechoes unity comparing Migingo to a child whose parents originate from different countries. “That child still belongs to both parents.”