By Momodou Jaiteh, Journalist, The Gambia
A regional youth forum on governance, human rights and peace recently wounded up in Banjul, Gambian capital.
The forum which revolved around the theme “Engaging Young African Leaders in the Implementation of the 2030 and 2063 Agendas, Accelerating Positive Social Transformations for a Democratic, Prosperous, Inclusive and Peaceful Africa,” was co-organized by United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Origination (UNESCO), Trust Africa and other partners.
UNESCO and its partners acknowledged that young women and men held creativity and potential to drive, change things for themselves, their own societies and the world.
Addressing the opening ceremony, Dembo Kambi, the Chairman of Gambia’s National Youth Council said African youths could no longer continue to be liabilities for their societies. He stressed that young folks in Africa could no longer continue to live in abject poverty, hopelessness and other problems in this day and age, saying: “We want to take part in the leadership and development process of the continent so that we can live the Africa we want.”
Mr. Kambi continues to argue that youths are not the future leaders of tomorrow but rather they should be leaders of today. “The time is now and if we allow the time to pass, we will regret it,” he told the gathering which consisted of mainly young people from the entire African continent.
He urged the youth to put aside their political differences and other divisive factors and work together for the collective development of their societies. Mr. Kambi then welcomed delegates and guests to the smiling coast of the Gambia which he called “Africa’s Youth Capital.”
In declaring the forum open, Gambian Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray, preached peace to African youths saying her country was a model in Africa as it brought down an entrenched dictator through peaceful means.
“The Gambia has set an example in setting up the narrative and showed the world that Africa can make it. We have moved away from an entrenched dictatorship by making a peaceful change,” Dr. Touray said referring to the ending of 22-year-long dictatorship of former President Yahya Jammeh who was voted out of office and forced to hand over power to the incumbent President Adama Barrow.
According to her, the youths are “the demographic dividends of Africa” that has crucial role in moving the continent forward.
The Gambian Vice President also emphasized the point that the Barrow Government has prioritize young people and make sure that they fully take part in the development process of the West African nation.
For his part, Dr. Ebrima Sall, the Executive Director of the Dakar-based TrustAfrica, during the dialogue on the topic: “Youth, climate change and migration”, challenged young people to have a sense of and knowledge on the issues so that they can establish the linkages between climate change and migration. That way, he says, the folks can figure out the problems and possible solutions around their surroundings.
“So, we can see where we are and where we want to be. We want a better world and human beings can make things happen that affect the entire climate,” Dr. Sall told the forum. He expressed delight in seeing young people from all of Africa having interesting and useful conversations on climate change and migration.
Hamat NK Bah, Gambia’s Tourism and Culture Minister, speaking as one of the guest speakers also urged young people in Africa to make good use of opportunities back home and stop risking their lives by embarking on perilous journey to Europe. “Why do you like to die in the high seas through the back way to Europe when the opportunities are here and you can make it at home,” Bah asked the youths.
He advised young people to be part of political process in Africa saying political decisions virtually affect all spheres of life in a country. “Why do you shy away from politics and political process of your countries?” The Minister questioned the youth adding: “You have to be part of both political and economic processes and you have to have a fair access to the national cake.”
Meanwhile, during the two-day forum marked by series of meetings, the participants largely young people from all over Africa, discussed equally strategic themes such as the future of education, a prospective approach to youth employment as well as climate change, migration, artificial intelligence and the digital revolution, among others.
They also came up with recommendations geared towards finding possible solutions to problems faced by young people in Africa.
Among UNESCO’s partners are: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), CODESRIA, ARTICLE 19, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the NGO women Africa solidarity through its Pan-African Centre for Gender, Peace and Development.
The Banjul 2019 third African Regional Youth Forum was held between October 28 -30 at the Paradise Suits Hotel situated within Gambia’s tourism resort of Senegambia Area.