By Fredrick Nzwili*
The all Africa youth congress will convene in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, from 29 October-4 November 2022, under the campaign theme “Africa: My Home. My Future.”
In the Nairobi meeting, about 50 youth from 26 countries are sitting as a “think tank,” through which they are constructing a blueprint for the congress.
From 25-28 October, the youth are exploring ideas, format and the structure of the congress, which is seen as the climax of the three-year campaign by the Africa-wide ecumenical group.
At the end, they will take a roadmap to the churches to help prepare for the congress.
“Here is more of planning…We will have a blueprint on how dynamic the congress will be. We want a congress where desire will be triggered among the young people to say let’s embrace, let us work together and change the narrative about our continent,” Rev. Dr Lesmore Gibson Ezekiel, a Nigerian who is the director of programmes said at the All Africa Conference of Churches headquarters in Nairobi on 26 October.
According to Ezekiel, the youth are saying: "we are disappointed and we know that we can change the narrative.
“The message of the youth is we will no longer remain silent, we will no longer be your tools or political manipulations, the youth are saying, we are no longer leaders of tomorrow, we are also leaders of today and therefore we can take our space, without necessary waiting for you to create the space for us,” said Ezekiel.
Of Africa’s over 1.2 billion people, 60 percent are youth. Although the population is rising, governments' willingness to tap this resource for economic growth is invisible. The young frustration and agitation has also soared among the youth, amid shrinking economic opportunities, growing corruption, rising unemployment, and limited political participation opportunities. A key pointer to the frustration is the desperate African youth who drown in the Mediterranean Sea, as they attempt to reach Europe where they hope life is better.
Still, there are signs of hope. Some youth are breaking the odds to launch start-ups and innovations contributing to the business and technology sectors. Some are successful in mining, technology and manufacturing.
“If we mobilize the young people through the church we can be able to direct things. Using the soft power of religion—Christianity—we can inculcate values for proper and servant leadership. There are a number of young people who have a lot of talent, have a lot of innovation and who can lead successful processes,” said Collins Shava, a Zimbabwean and the All Africa Conference of Churches executive secretary for youth.
“The hope is in the young people taking political leadership, taking business leadership. It is in the young people leading in all processes,” said Shava.
Rev. Samuel Davies, national coordinator youth and young adult in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sierra Leone, stressed that the congress was paramount for the youth in Africa.
“When we come together, we build the hope that has been lost. We sensitize each other. When we come together, we will definitely change the future of this great continent. It's all we have,” said Davies.
*Fredrick Nzwili is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.