‘Youths can help change Africa’s narrative’

African Union’s development arm, Nepad on April 10 held its second communication and advocacy platform in South Africa. Nepad is championing, ‘The Africa We Want’ through Agenda 2063 lens—the continent’s strategic framework for socio-economic transformation over a period of 50 years. At the gathering attended by participants from across the continent, youth essay contest winners received prizes while youth champions who are carrying the spotlight on the Africa We Want were awarded for their efforts in making a difference to people’s lives. During the event renowned South African musician YVONNE CHAKACHAKA now AU Ambassador of Goodwill spoke highly on the need for youth engagement in actualising Agenda 2063. She later spoke to our correspondent and coordinator of the Agenda 2063 Media Network, CHARLES MKOKA. Excerpts:

Chakachaka: It’s important that AU engages with young people

Q

: Why is it important to ensure young people are part of Agenda 2063?

A

: These are the leaders of tomorrow, so we need to empower them now; we need to engage them now. We need them to be part of the whole strategy in changing Africa’s narrative and part of the change, we want to see. So that come 2063, it is these very young people that are leaders who are capable of leading. That’s why it is so important that AU engages with them.

Q

: What is your key message to them, the youth?

A

: My message to the future leaders of Africa is that we learn from the mistakes that were done and not dwell on them. We need to change Africa and be the change we want to see. Change the Africa we want.  Now it is the time, because if it is not done, we will be judged by the next generation.

Q

: How do we make sure that young people coming do away with the culture of ‘dirty politics’ which is so entrenched on the continent?

A

: I think sometimes these are pains, sometimes self inflicted pains that we are doing to ourselves as Africans. As I said Africa is a beautiful continent, it is not a dark continent that everybody believes it to be. This continent has absolutely everything nice from weather to space—agriculture, minerals—everything is there in Africa, but who benefits from that? The people who are supposed to be benefitting aren’t.

So we need to change the narrative. We need to make sure that whatever mineral is there benefits the people of that particular country. So with these young people they know, they have seen, they have experienced the hardships. So it is their time now to take the battle on and change the narrative.

Q

: How would you guide the role and performance of the media in the quest to ensure the road to 2063 and meeting the seven aspirations of the continent’s vision of a changed Africa?

A

: The media has a key role to disseminate information. It has to be positive information. Hence, the creation of Agenda 2063 Media Network is the step in the right direction in as far as achieving the vision of African development is concerned.  But when things are done incorrectly you also have to be critical.

Q

: How do you react to the fact that when young leaders secured leadership positions they sometimes change their behaviour?

A

: It is actually very unfortunate that when people are in position of power they forget where they are coming from. I have been in the music industry for 35 years and I still avail myself for anybody, no body guards, no bureaucracies around me because I know that I am made by these people. So I give myself time to listen, to learn from them and to impart my knowledge where I need to. But to the young people I don’t say I know it all. I always want to listen to them because my challenges are different from their challenges. That’s why we need to work together. As I said no one has to compete, we have to work together to complement each other.

Q

: Corruption is a huge challenge on the continent, how do we inculcate a culture of transparency and democratic values in the youth?

A

: It is our duty all of us not to be corrupt. If you can steal a pen and think it is OK, then you have a problem. That is being corrupt. If that pen is supposed to be given to a child at school, it should. So corruption is not all about money no. It is about doing things incorrectly. So passion is doing things correctly and being passionate about whatever things you do, not wanting everything. Remember we are born with nothing and when we die we take absolutely nothing so there is no need to be corrupt.

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