At the beginning of the year, I had unshaken expectations that 2019 would be a season of growth and blessings but I wasn’t sure the shapes and styles these would come my way. Fast forward to April, I got a call from the ONE in Nigeria office asking me to fill a form already sent to my e-mail. I clicked on the link and it had the title, “African Union Youth Forum“.
The only reason i didn’t scream out my lungs was because I was in a bus traveling from Onitsha, Anambra State to Enugu and the fact that i was sitting by the right hand side of the driver; It would be unfair to confuse the driver who had just escaped being stuck in an unfriendly pothole.
I got all the necessary requirements for my trip and on Tuesday, 23rd of April, 2019, i boarded Ethiopian Airlines for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It felt surreal throughout the flight. I was smiling and shedding joyful tears- Who would have thought a local girl from Obinihu would soon visit the African Union Headquarters!
It may interest you to know that this was an ALL expense paid trip by the ONE Campaign. I was lodged at the famous Radisson Blu, Addis and couldn’t contain my excitement. I woke up in Nigeria, only to sleep in Ethiopia on the same day (Dazz how starz do, right😂). I met other members of the ONE family, before retiring for the day.
On Wednesday, after breakfast, we headed for the AU HQ to set up the ONE Campaign Booth and for the opening ceremony.
This would be the beginning of many interesting events. Kindly read on!
Participants were welcomed by H.E Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, Commissioner, Human Resources, Science and Education, who encouraged all to get actively involved in the whole process.
Miss Aya Chebbi, the AUC Special Envoy on Youth, reminded the youths to take advantage of the privilege they possess.
She shared the following points on the reason youths were gathered from all corners of the continent and they include:
- To shape the direction
- To raise our voices loud and clear
- To disrupt the hierarchy
- To claim, shape and own our space
- To celebrate our diversity and share our culture (Pan Africanism).
This was followed by the presentation on the 1 Million by 2021 initiative by the AUC Chairperson, H.E Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat. He charged youths to receive the microphone handed over to them by the AU, as the time had come for them to raise up their voices.
The Pan African Debate took place with the topic, “This house believes that the AU remains relevant for the African Youth today”. Three speakers spoke for and three other speakers spoke against the notion. Both sides had valid points as they pointed towards what is currently the reality and a hope for the Africa We Want
The concluding session for the day was the Continental Youth Network Architecture and Effective Mobilization where participants were shared in groups and individual members were asked to share ideas on how to achieve the Africa We Want.
Some of the ideas raised were to improve accountability at all levels, setting targets on inclusion, getting actively involved in places and things that matter.
Day 2: Co-Creation Session
Theme– Framing the discussions: Trends, Bottlenecks, Solution Areas.
This session was successfully driven by a team of six panelists namely Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Maureen Achien, Dezeree Azobavi, Beatrice Njenga, Ingi Bugaten, Dr. Ologbuni .
They gave insights on trends relating to Education, Employment, Engagement, Entrepreneurship (4Es). Their points in no particular order include:
- 4 in every 10 young workers in Africa are the working poor
- Creating quality jobs are also very important
- Creative and cultural industries are effective tools for promoting entrepreneurship
- To do more, youths need to network more
- Youths hold the key for a better future hence, the need to equip them to use that key
- Youth volunteerism should not be seen as a tool in improving unemployment
Co-Creation Session on Education
There are three pathways mapped out to achieve a better Educational system and they are:
- Alternative pathways
- Models for Teacher Development
Facilitators discussed approaches in using the three pathways in achieving a more productive Educational System. Some of their submissions are:
- Scholarships can be provided by Africans for Africans as it gives more flexibility than when it is provided by the West
- Providing and integrating digital skills into school programs would help improve Education
- Curriculum need to reflect the realities on ground with respect to jobs available in the continent
- A large portion of the budget should be allocated to education and research in alternative pathways to jobs
- Collaboration among all levels of government is key
- Increased investment in people’s capabilities and institutions
- Investment in digital labour provides a platform for enhancing education.
I had the privilege of being selected to be a Group 6 member and we called ourselves, THE CATALYST. We were tasked with identifying the current challenges facing formal education and proffering solutions through alternative pathways to education using charts to represent ideas.
Day 3: Group work on Co-Creation Session continued
With the aid of five canvasses, trends, bottlenecks, solutions, expectations were written to express ideas on how to effectively engage the use of alternative pathways to Education.
All groups working on similar pathways reviewed presentations in order to choose a common representative idea to present to the house.
The following presentations were made on Education:
- Policies should be formulated that mandate the government/private organizations to commit 1% of profit to Education budget in order to fund scholarship
- Creation of systemic impact/regulation to track how money is gotten and how it is spent on education
- Create community centers at both rural and urban areas that serve as wholistic safe spaces that help in producing a healthy African who stands as a global citizen
- Create a mobility scheme for teachers in Africa by African organizations
- Engagement of Educational consultants to develop curriculum for teacher training
- Integration of digital literacy/blended learning as well as creation of digital hubs for teachers.
Ethiopia was kind to me and the people are hospitable. I never used handkerchief because the weather was cool and that was priceless considering how much i sweat.
On the last day in Addis, the ONE family chose to refresh at a Mexican restaurant at night. I had my first ever mojito drink and grilled chicken. We also visited the Stadium which was popular for the different forms of leather material.
More memorable was the fact that i celebrated Good Friday (The day Christians mark the crucifixion of Jesus Christ) twice because Ethiopians follow the orthodox calendar which is different from the western church.
I am grateful to the entire ONE family for giving me the privilege to visit the African Union. Thank you to ONE in Nigeria, Country Director, Serra Makka-Ugbabe. I love you so much ma’am.
To Ms. Flora, Mr. Tumba, Mr. Ulrich, Mr. Olalekan, Ms. Doreen, you all made my stay beautiful. Indeed, we are ONE!
To think that my first ever international trip was to the African Union still makes me happy in an inexplicable way. I would forever remain indebted to ONE Campaign for trusting me enough to invest in me. The door of greatness just opened, i believe many more blessings are lined up for me.
I also thank all who gave me gifts for my trip- His Grace, the Most Rev. Prof. Daddy Hezekiah (MFR), Daa Egejuru Onukogu, Mrs. Chizoba Ume-ezeoke, Princess Hephzibah, Princess Onyinyeomachukwu, Nkiru Arum, Chibuzo Ihegboro, Nono Adibe, Clara Phillips, you are all amazing. You all were sincerely excited for me. Engr. Chukwudinma Obiegbunam was the one who sent me some money in July 2018 to get my passport. I am thankful dear. To those who checked up on me all through my stay at Addis, God bless you. May you be celebrated soon.
To you my dear reader, never look down on your potentials. Keep pushing and at the right time, you would shine forth.
I wish to use this medium to invite you to join ONE- An international organization committed to eradicating extreme poverty and preventable diseases in Africa. To be part of this great movement, kindly visit: www.one.org
Thank you so much for your time.
ONE Champion 2018/2019