The prolonged political malaise, Western dependency, crippling corruption, and shambling economies prompted a plethora of consequences in the African region. It became increasingly necessary, therefore, to adopt a bottom-up approach towards development. And this could happen by bringing citizens from different parts of Africa, to discuss issues that affect their lives. Students of African Rebirth—an initiative aimed at popularizing the so-called “Citizen Diplomacy”—are expected to graduate in September after 6 weeks of extensive lectures.
During the training, students were able to get hands-on experience in peacebuilding, anti-corruption strategies, entrepreneurship, digital transformation, among other issues. In the first lecture, for instance, students were lectured by two prominent Africans, Yohana Ermias, the CTO and co-founder at EQUB Financial technologies PLC, and Alexandre Nshiniymana, CEO at Sanit Wing Ltd. The lecturers/panelists stressed avoiding the copy and paste mentality, in addition to having a settled business plan to be able to transform your small-scale business into a large one in Africa.
The second session, in addition, focused on digital transformation and the empowerment of youth in the technology sector. Whilst the global pandemic facilitated the use of technology, with the absence of effective policies in place, the digital transformation remains a long way off. Professor Hirut Woldemariam, moreover, argues that technical education should be incorporated into the educational systems of Africa, to ensure that our youth are ready to face the challenges of cyberspace as well as to utilize the benefits flowing from it.
More fundamentally, the other four lectures tackled regional issues, and most importantly diplomacy and regional integration. During the third lecture, students were introduced to new concepts about African integration and the need to have African solutions to African problems. In the fourth lecture, African Rebirth was able to bring the Deputy and acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somaliland Liban Yusuf Osman whereby he gave an important lecture on diplomacy. Mr. Osman argues that Diplomacy is “The art of enhancing and restraining power”. Building on that, Professor Bola Akinterinwa stated the only diplomacy that works in the region is multilateral diplomacy, citing the example of the African Union (AU).
In the 5th lecture, the lecturers and panelists focused on the necessity of Youth participation in leadership& politics. African youth need to actively engage and participate in politics, the panelists argue. In the 6th lecture, the guest speakers expanded on the idea of youth participation and the bottom-up approach towards development.
Besides the workshops, students were able to socialize with one another. Every week, trainees meet to discuss issues related to peacebuilding, corruption, and development. They are given the platform to exchange ideas. The motive behind these exchange programs is to bring Africans together. Since state-to-state diplomacy fails to represent the demands of the people, “citizen” diplomacy seems a feasible solution. Students are expected to have a “virtual” ceremony in September, to receive their certificates. They are asked to wear clothes that represent the culture of their home country. We conducted an interview with the founder, Mr. Enoch to learn more about the African Rebirth and its departments.
1. Why did you come up with the African Rebirth Initiative?
Over a year ago when I was thinking to start the mighty African Rebirth, I realized that throughout the history of the world, there is no society that has achieved a high-level civilization and prosperity without peace and Unity. And therefore, when you look at Africa both historically and currently the idea of peace and unity is wanting. Therefore, African Rebirth comes to fix this; both ideologically and strategically. To defy mediocrity, inspire and empower young African leaders with a mindset of peace, unity, and prosperity, I started this noble organization to redirect and restructure new thinking in many young Africans across the continent. Our focus is on young people because they make the greatest percentage of the whole of Africa and if not catered for, we risk again the future of Africa into mediocrity and unfilled dreams to see a new Africa filled with hope over despair, with peace over conflicts, with prosperity over poverty.
2. Do you have different departments in this initiative?
Yes, we do have three main departments.
1. Under the mentorship program, we recruit and give a chance to young leaders to learn about the following:
We recruit young leaders from every African country every two months and the long intensive program lasts for 6 weeks. Second, young people have the exposure to networking with others and learn from top leaders in the African governments like Ministers, senators and other seniors, top business leaders, and civil society leaders.
Through this program, we have trained over 500 young leaders in a period of months since its inception.
2. Through the Ambassadors program, we give young people the opportunity to represent their countries at African Rebirth. So far, we have over 45 African countries represented. The young leaders who call Ambassadors, help fellow young leaders in their countries connect them to the noble opportunities that African Rebirth offers.
This program is also meant to enhance the art of networking amongst young people. 3. The exchange program; To enhance the unity and cross-border ideas, young African need to connect and share ideas. Therefore, this program allows young people to do so.
For example, we have regional connections like Northern Africa meeting Eastern African. We make sure that each African region has met with each other from North to South and East to West. Second, the exchange happens also between professionals from all regions of Africa: for example, people of the same profession meet on a weekly basis.
3. Do you think that the African Union/African governments should support such initiatives, or it should be purely sponsored by civil society organizations away from governmental influence to ensure transparency?
Absolutely yes, most especially like a non-partisan organization like the AU because they got influence and make key policies that influence the political, social, and economic lives of young people and therefore, collaborating with organizations that are central to young people’s future like African Rebirth is a game-changer and it’s not necessary but the right thing to do. I, therefore, call African governments and civil society organizations to collaborate with African Rebirth to catalyze the transformation of the African young people.
4. How to join the African Rebirth?
African Rebirth has no application to be a member; we just support young people through programs, and they apply to be part of it. Therefore, when the right time for recruitment reaches, we share the application links. Don’t forget to follow and share for updates. Stay tuned we got amazing stuff for Africa and we invite you to take this noble journey together.