Calling Africa’s Youth to Action
The youth represents Africa’s now, not just Africa’s tomorrow. Young people must wear the crown of leadership today, as the change-makers of today and tomorrow and as future leaders. It is time for young people to step up to the plate and not shy away from taking responsibility and receiving the baton of driving Africa’s development in a positive spirit.
This might seem like a daunting task, but we must remember that “he who fears the sun will not become chief”. This is how you earn your stripes as responsible leaders. And then, to your determined actions, add selflessness, not selfishness. Add collectivism, not individualism. Add synergy and complementarity; not thinking in isolated silos; leveraging your skills and building on ongoing work; not being primarily driven by financial reward or falling for whoever parades the most of it.
As you move forward, be guided by the words of Martin Luther King Junior, who said that life’s most urgent and persistent question was, what are you doing for others.
Do not dare stop at your dreams.
As the biggest stakeholders in Africa’s future, dreaming — and dreaming big — for Africa is all you should do. And do not dare stop at your dreams — arise from slumber, roll up your sleeves, create the dreams and make them happen. You are endowed by our creator with the inherent capacity to dream and create your dreams. And by doing so, take leadership in transforming Africa to be at the apex of global development, where it ought to be. The message is simple. It is time to engage in innovative volunteerism passionately.
The world may seem to be in a terrible mess today, but what I have learned has shown me that there is hope. Hopelessness destroys the will to live. It is only by holding onto hope and promoting hope in others that we can change Africa and the world.
My personal story
I was not born into wealth and opportunity. I grew up herding goats, and the only hope and inspiration were provided by my parents, who believed everyone’s dreams were valid and, through hard work and perseverance, they could be realised. I went to school without shoes, but the message was simple: there can be a better tomorrow with hard work, passion, and determination.
When I finished university, I did one year of volunteering to gain skills. I won a scholarship to study at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom through perseverance. Later I attended Harvard University Kennedy School of Government to pursue an Executive Education in Climate Change and Energy Policy Making. This experience taught me a lot of what I share with you today.
Never be afraid to dream big. Work hard every day. Use what you have to get what you don’t have. Always aspire to make a difference. Use your knowledge and pens to promote hope and change Africa and the world. Write about Africa. Tweet about Africa. Always know that the difference between “impossible” and “possible” lies in one word: determination. You have what it takes to combat the pain and shame of poverty, hunger, and unemployment using what you have — not complaints and playing the blame game alone.
Let’s seize the moment!