27 Jul 2014

A Summary: The 2nd Mandela Institute Development Studies Annual African Youth Dialogue On Elections And Governance In Africa.

                                                                               By Grace Mageka
Mandela Institute Development Studies (MINDS) is a 3 years old institute that was launched in Addis Ababa in 2012 and it has made profound changes. Professor Nkosana Moyo the founder and Executive Director says MINDS was launched  because the African continent has been under-performing since the gain of independence therefore the need to create our space as Africans to come together to discuss our problems, development issues and share our aspirations openly.The big question is why we are where we are and how to we fix it? This is the rationale for MINDS conversations to create space for internal and honest conversations.

First, MINDS focuses on the African research heritage programs since institutions that are there are foreign-based, MINDS meetings and workshops are held in Africa to promote knowledge to future leaders and how African issues can be solved. Secondly MINDS focuses on the High level dialogue series on the post-colonization interest and the role they play. Lastly MINDS focuses on the Annual African youth dialogue to facilitate leaders of tomorrow, the current generation and youth leaders to get exposure from current leaders, what they are doing successfully and as Africans to get to know the continent and interrogate the current levels on African youths’ involvement in electoral and governance process on the continent. 

The first Annual African Youth dialogue was held in Accra, Ghana last year at The Kofi Annan Centre with 23 African countries participating. This year 38 countries participated with 103 participants. Using the following criteria to select participants to participate in the youth dialogues and workshops on Elections and Governance programme and Civic Education.

Age (18 to 45) 2 participants male and female from each country
Gender (50-50) include women in finance, media and politics
Location Rural vs Urban (strive to include participants based in rural areas and who are already involved in leadership and/or actively participating in community and youth issues (socio-economic or political issues)
Disability: Strive to include people living with disability
Region (South, East, Central, North & West and the Maghreb, and Islands)
Entrepreneurs (business owners)
Professionals (Teachers, Researchers, Academics etc.)
Politicians  & Leaders
Youth working in the Civil Society Sector
Others (student  & unemployed –who have demonstrated some community initiatives and leadership
African Youth in Diaspora
Young people in the Media

President Paul Kagame commented on the need for less talks & more actions during Minds Youth Dialogue. “This kind of conversations has been there before, we have been talking. In all these discussions people seem to know what they want. There is a feeling of hope, energy and by the time we get out, we rarely hit the ground running. This is a major issue that we need to address" He went further to say "Until something is done, He will always use the words 'seem to know'. How do we use the talent in the room? In Africa, there are many things we need to do; why are we not doing them? "
Grace Mageka at the MINDS Dialogue 2014

Opportunity comes once in a lifetime and as young people criticism should not scare us as you all know we are very resourceful, innovators, economic drivers, hope builders, policy makers and community changers but to do things in the right way and follow our passion to be able do valuable things in the continent all we need is identify the issues, use brain and not emotions to be able harmonize and create a mass movement in the continent therefore creating a future for future generations.

Nelson Mandela once said, "young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.so say my vote is the key to unlock the doors of injustice” So I say my vote is the key to unlock the doors of injustice in Africa. I vote because I believe that voting is supposed to be credible way of making decisions in a peaceful way, in a manner that everybody can be heard. Abraham Lincoln said the ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets, Good citizens take actions for positive change Africa is presented globally as a laughing stock to the whole world and we need citizens to change that. All you need to know is that no one was born a good citizen; no nation is born democracy rather both are process that continue to evolve over a lifetime.

Participants at MINDS Dialogue 2014
Leadership as a Job description in governance and accountability in Africa. There are so many tasks to be performed in Africa and this is a journey to the job description as youths lets be aware of our responsibility in the current state of Africa elections and outcome lets’ mobilize and chose youth leaders among ourselves with qualifications to lead us from one point to another, with the ability to lead us and experience with youth leadership despite the fact that we have different categories of young people with different interest and experiences. My fellow youths the vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking justice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men said Lyndon the 36 US president. This is very true. Men imprison other men in poverty, war, sickness and death and this comes with greed, corruption and the madness that comes with excessive power.

My advice to young people is to volunteer so that they can empower minority groups regardless of sexual orientation, everyone is important, engage the community since there is power in engagement and numbers, mobilize among themselves, understand each other, participate in NGOS and civil society to improve leadership so that they can reclaim their recognition and dignity in the society cultivating political leaders like crowds,participate in the society elections there is power in numbers.Youths in positions of responsibility must always know the power in numbers and should be responsible so that youths should not be absorbed in the corrupt system instead credibility to governance processes, we have to push ourselves to positions of authority initiatives to action.

Thank you very much president Paul Kagame for being an inspiration to us we have learnt a lot from your conversation with Profesor Nkosana Moyo.


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