This event brought together 84 youth participants from civil society, youth organizations, religious groups, educational institutions, government ministries, YMCA membership and disabled peoples’ organization.
As we deliberated on the Africa we want; relating this dream to the trends that were discussed, the Africa we want seemed impossible in the eyes of many. However there is nothing greater than a unified cause. To make the seemingly impossible become possible. This is what the African youth need to make the Africa we want a reality.
The young people of The Gambia believe that, as African Renaissance youth, there is a need for solidarity in purpose and that we then have to act collectively to attain this dream. However, we also believe to achieve this, the youths need to have a change of mindset that seeks knowledge and skill acquisition rather than the desired immediate wealth attainment. Young people need to be politically informed and aware, inculcate productive attributes, implement their own ideas and believe in themselves. Above all, they are of the opinion that there is a need to fight corruption and the systems that create them.
A couple of years ago, only a few young people of The Gambia where keen on politics. Now, after 22 years of oppression by the former president, the number of young people interested in politics has greatly increased. The impact it has had, has transformed the mindset of the youths. They are more engaged in the affairs of the country, more outspoken about the issues affecting them with more youth representation in Parliament than before. The youths of The Gambia are today more than ever determined to never allow such an experience to happen in The Gambia. They want to be part of the decisions-making bodies and become advocates for change.
Change begins from the home and that is where we build our foundation, our characters are molded and shaped as we grow. As young people, we believe if our foundation is weak from the onset then our future will definitely be unstable. As Africans, we need to remember where we are from, our roots, our traditions and our cultures. We believe that our strong roots should never be compromised. In saying this, we need to be mindful of our negative cultural traditions and practices as well yet enhance and embrace the good ones in order to improve our lives. This we believe as young people contributes greatly to the way we perceive things and the way we act now and in the future.
Contentment, love, unity and forgiveness are talked about and taught as we grow up in our homes, communities, society, churches and mosques. How we receive these teachings and whether we have a strong mindset depends solely on us as young people.
If these are not in place, the Africa we want will only be a fantasy told by a dreamer. Our youths of today have awoken from their slumber and cannot be taken on a joy ride by those that are supposed to protect and provide a conducive environment for their self-actualization. They are thirsty for change, they are ready for change and they are ready to see this dream become a reality for themselves and the generations to come.
As they become the pace setters paving the way to the Africa we want, we call upon the support of all youths to speak with one voice so that together we become active participants of the Africa We Want. We know we cannot cry for change and do nothing about it. That is why we want to be part of the change as contributors towards the development of youths across The Gambia, the African continent and the world.
Source: Priscilla H.D. Dunn ,The Gambia YMCA