Dear President Cyril Ramaphosa, African Union Heads of State and Governments,
Silence the Guns – Not the Youth
As a collective of young people from across the continent of Africa we call on you to urgently work with youth to address the systemic issues that have disempowered our generation. As young Africans, over 226 million and counting, we are stuck in a period of our lives that the 2019 Ibrahim Forum Report called the “waithood”. But we wish to escape this state of waithood; we have bold dreams of the Africa we want instead.
The Africa we want to live in, is one that sees every young person involved in its development and flourishing. We want to see young Africans from all the African states, enabled to join hands and work collectively, in peace and in unity. We want to use those hands, our strengths and the power of our minds to collectively, creatively and innovatively raise Africa up to great heights and with our abundant resources, be a blessing to the world.
We could not put it better than African Union itself in The African Youth Charter, where you declare yourselves “CONVINCED that Africa’s greatest resource is its youthful population and that through their active and full participation, Africans can surmount the difficulties that lie ahead.” We young people agree with this statement and desire an active and full participation – but this has been denied us. These are some concrete ways in which youth can be empowered to build a better future that will bless the whole continent, and we are ready to work with you in making these a reality.
Firstly, we call for a reprioritisation around youth inclusion. We call on African Union Heads of State and Governments to enable genuine youth participation in public life, especially in: governance, policy making, and economic development. Despite the vast majority of our African populations being youthful, we do not see ourselves in current leadership. The AU Youth Decade 2009-2018 Plan of Action states “Empowerment means having the ability for supporting enabling conditions under which young people can act on their own behalf, and on their own terms, rather than at the direction of others.” The decade has passed and yet the young people around Africa are still seeking this empowerment.
Secondly, we call for a bold commitment to safeguard future generations through an eco-system of locally controlled ‘future funds’. African countries are blessed with natural resources and human talent. We call on the African Union to mandate all African countries to set up and fund a network of future funds that local communities can use to build strong, inclusive and environmentally sustainable economic opportunities for youth and coming generations.
Thirdly, we call for an overhaul of the antiquated rote educational approach, and a transition to methods that enhance critical thinking, learning and problem solving. As part of this transition we need an enabling environment, including digital infrastructure, created to elevate entrepreneurship and innovation; natural strengths of African youth. These changes will empower young Africans to compete in a global economy.
Lastly, but urgently, we call for an end to the unfair and unjust profiling and targeting of young people in National security operations. Police and security forces brutality is commonly focused on the young. We demand the right to peacefully and constructively call for change without being endangered; rights enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
We submit these calls to you reflecting an eager and ready ability amongst young people to work with African leaders for the betterment of all Africans.
God bless you all. God bless Africa.
Dated this 4th day of December 2020.
Oscar Fwangmun Danladi, Nigeria
Ulan Garba Matta, Nigeria
Racheal Purity Wambui, Kenya
Malango Kayira, Zambia
Sarah A. Namiiro, Uganda
Emmanuel Kimbe, Zambia
Daniel Kayemba, Uganda
Lungu Collins, Zambia
Musamba Mubanga, Zambia
Sinan Kitagenda, Uganda
Charles Bakolo, Malawi
Grace Sichula, Malawi
Peter Kolani, Malawi
Thobeka Dodo, South Africa
To engage or suggest other ways African youth can play a greater role in the future of Africa, email firstname.lastname@example.org