Mwombeki, a Lutheran pastor from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania, was delivering a keynote address at the opening of the All Africa Youth Congress in Kasoa, Ghana.
“The future is here, in Africa, but if the youth aspire to a prosperous future in Africa, they must make it happen,” said the leader.
“We have therefore prepared this first congress, to be a platform, a venue for African young people to meet, inspire each other, network, and make the determination that they will change this continent and prepare for themselves a blissful future. Africa: My home. My future.”
The congress runs from 31 October-5 November under the theme, "Africa: My Home. My future.” Organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches, it centres on the organization’s continental youth campaign on African patriotism. Another of its aims is to create awareness of the existing potential and opportunities that would inspire the use of talents and gifts to build a thriving continent.
Mwombeki said the church was convinced that young people were Africa’s greatest asset.
“When and if mobilized, and given the opportunity, the young people will change the destiny of the continent. Africa will be the next source and engine of growth and prosperity of the world,” he said.
Over 2,000 young people—ages 15-35 years— from across Africa are attending the congress. Dubbed “Accra 2022,” the meeting is the first such meeting organized by the Nairobi-based ecumenical group.
“The home we seek to have as African youth can only be built by us and no one else. It takes discipline, creativity, wisdom, integrity, honesty, righteousness, and the grace of God to build an exemplary home,” Rt. Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante, a Presbyterian church leader who is the chairman of the Christian Council of Ghana. told the youth congress.
“I urge the youth in the congress to go back to be ambassadors of a clean environment. We cannot create a home with dirty surroundings and we cannot leave a better future for the next generation if they have to combat deforestation.”
At the same time, Mwombeki regretted that youth in Africa were negative about their countries and the continent, and if given a chance, they would try to leave.
“Their negative attitudes have reasons. It is true that they are disillusioned by the status of their lives. Many finish their years of education successfully and cannot find meaningful work for years,” he said.
He listed reasons that many were not able or confident enough to start families, as they do not have hope in the future, were disillusioned by politicians and governments, and were angry because of the lack of credible democratic processes.
“Many give up hope and are ready recruits for human trafficking, slavery, radicalism. and violent extremism. Some have lived in the context of conflicts since they were born,” he said.
While highlighting the struggles with unemployment, corruption, and limited economic opportunities, among others, the youth have deployed risky and illegal migrations across deserts into the Mediterranean Sea, with the hope of reaching Europe, amid the risk of death.
“These young people are not only migrating from Africa because of economic challenges but many… think… life will be better outside Africa,” said the youth in a statement. “…truth be told, this all because many young people lack inspiration and have lost hope.”