With only 5 days now left before the long awaited Mo Ibrahim Discussion Forum kicks off in the city of Dakar, Senegal, hopes and Expectations from the camp of youth delegates and communicators are high, though coming from different regions and walks of life, the theme under discussion is one that touches and affects almost every African youth, after days and weeks of preparation and anticipation, we can’t wait for the golden opportunity to grab the microphone and engage with our policy makers and government representatives.
The Mo Ibrahim Forum is an annual high level discussion forum facilitated by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. Participants are drawn from around the African continent to discuss and debate the African agenda as articulated by the Foundation in collaboration with key members of African civil society. Among other things, the Foundation seeks to promote good governance practices and exceptional leadership in Africa.
This year’s Forum focuses on an interesting theme, “YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT, EDUCATION AND CIVIC PARTICIPATION IN AFRICA." This rings a line on my mind on what is stipulated in the Zambian National Youth Policy which states and I quote “The best empowerment that can be given to the youth is education and training.”
Notable among the prominent people to grace the forum this year include the worlds celebrated Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, an inspiration for our generation. It is at this forum that he will get to officially receive the award that was recently bestowed on him by the Foundation following his remarkable courage to speak to powers and authority. Out of the 400 estimated number of delegates to gather in Dakar, 20 will be young people from around the African continent, who have been recruited by Restless Development to add the Youth factor, this goes a long way in securing our voice and ensuring that our concerns are heard.
As we gather in Dakar, we hope to learn more from every delegate part of the forum, we hope that through their experience and reflections we will make milestones in addressing the issues of unemployment and education on our continent. After almost 50 years of gaining independence by most of our countries, we still remain greatly marginalized as young people from taking an active role in the running of affairs in our countries.
Though small in number at the forum, we still hope that our concerns will be heard, we hope that through this forum we will speak on behalf of the millions and millions of our brothers and sisters we have left behind in various communities whose voice is not otherwise recognized.
I think of our friends in Malawi looking at the prevailing economic hardships, and not forgetting, my own country of origin, Zambia, were we still have young boys and girls who sit on logs in classrooms, university students who sit on the floor, all in the quest to get some education. These thoughts flash before me as I attend this forum, I hope that lasting solutions and recommendations would be reached to help in addressing some of these persisting challenges that have afflicted our countries for far too long.
Post by Isaac Mwaipopo
Youth Communicator for Southern Africa