During the recent Executive Committee meeting in of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs, the movement paid tribute to Samuel Anim, who held the position of National General Secretary of the Ghana YMCA for 12 years. Samuel is a great man who worked tirelessly towards youth empowerment and capacity building in Ghana. His retirement in January 2009 was a huge blow to Africa, having dedicated 33 years to the Ghana YMCA.
He was born in 1948, at Konongo, Ghana. Young Samuel was an excellent School Administrator and possessed a Teachers Certificate ‘A’ before joining Ghana YMCA in 1975 as a Hi-Y Coordinator. He was under the direct supervision of Mr. Schroeter from CVJM Germany. During his era, Samuel relentlessly established and organized YMCA branches in Schools and Universities in Ghana.
In 1982, he was promoted to the position of Secretary for Leadership Training (Training Officer). In this portfolio, Samuel instituted and coordinated in-house training programmes for the development of professional and auxiliary staff of the Association. Despite some serious setbacks in the mid-eighties when Ghana YMCA was staff-constrained and cash-strapped Samuel played a critical role as the acting Regional Secretary for the combined Regions of Ashanti and Brong Ahafo and as Acting National General Secretary in the absence of the then substantive NGS.
By dint of hard work, Samuel was recommended to enroll at Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation and received a scholarship for the pursuit of the course. He distinguished himself among his peers and obtained a Diploma in Social Youth Work. Having accumulated in-depth knowledge in Community Development, Christian Education, Youth Work, Recreation, Sociology, Management, and Production, he was unanimously decided on as the person best fit for the Deputy National General Secretary position of Ghana YMCA in 1986. He supervised and provided managerial leadership to the Ghana YMCA Hostel, Guest Houses, and Canteen operations. Samuel served on numerous YMCA committees such as Ghana YMCA Headquarters Renovation, and Ghana YMCA Production Training Unit Privatization.
His ability to establish rapport with Ghana YMCA’s international partners led to swift responses from donors to sponsor youth capacity building projects and programmes. As a result, Ghana YMCA became one of the best recognized local NGOs for its community-based programmes.
From 1994 to 1995 Samuel held the position of first Fraternal Secretary to the Western Federation of YMCAs in Germany (CVJM-West bund), the first of its kind in Europe. As Fraternal Secretary, he worked closely with the Secretary of World Service and International Relations. Through this, awareness was created on the need for local associations to identify with the YMCA in the global context. He also visited over 300 local associations where he was involved with children, youth, and adult groups in their personal development.
Whilst in Germany, Samuel excelled in the execution of his responsibilities. He was recommended and sponsored to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Human Service, Springfield College, USA. After graduating with a distinguished pass, in 1996, he assumed the top position of National General Secretary of Ghana YMCA - a duty he responded to for 12 good years until his retirement in January 2009.
We thank Samuel Henry Edward Anim for his development of the national movement, and his commitment to youth, and we comment him for his achievements at national level and in the international arena. Thank you Samuel, go well, we wish you a well-earned rest and know that you will always be a friend to the YMCA, your extended family.
Photo: Samuel Anim accepts an honourary plaque from Evelyn Sadio, Africa Alliance Executive Committee Member from Senegal YMCA; staff photo.
By: Prosper Kweku Hoeyi, National General Secretary, Ghana YMCA
Young people from Sierra Leone, South Africa and Togo YMCAs are gearing up to represent Africa on youth justice issues by participating in the UN Human Rights Council’s session in March. They join youth from UK and Ireland YMCAs as part of the Youth Justice in Action campaign, funded by Y Care International.
Two weeks ago, the World Alliance of YMCAs submitted a written statement to the Council calling on UN member states to protect the rights of young people in conflict with the law. This statement is one of several initiatives in the “International Advocacy Strategy on Youth Justice” that was adopted by the World Alliance of YMCAs and Y Care International in 2008 to provide an international dimension to the Youth Justice in Action campaign.
From 5-21 March, the young people from the six partner national movement countries will be learning about the UN Human Rights Council, developing a strategy on how to raise the profile of youth justice issues, and actively participating in the session. A detailed training programme has been developed to help prepare and build the confidence of these young people to make their voices heard. All the young people have first-hand experience of the stigma, abuse, and injustices that young people all over the world face when they come into contact with the justice system.
Arrested without warrant, Makilawè from Togo, waited 12 months for his trial, during which time he suffered bullying and physical torture. Eventually sentenced to eight months imprisonment, he effectively lost two years of his schooling. Speaking about the training programme he said, “Having myself been a victim of injustice in my country, I shall take the opportunity to tell people about my experiences. I would like the Human Rights Council to equip itself with the means to sanction a country which disregards young people’s rights, particularly young detainees.”
In addition to the written statement addressed to the UN Human Rights Council, a series of other activities will also be organised at the Council to raise awareness of key juvenile justice issues. These include an oral statement and a parallel event organised in collaboration with child rights NGO Defence for Children International. The event - “Education as a Tool for the Genuine Reintegration of Children and Youth in Conflict with the Law” - will take the form of a panel discussion with international youth justice and education experts and YMCA youth. Invitees include government representatives, ecumenical bodies and international and non-governmental organisations working in related fields.
Source: World Alliance of YMCAs Website
Photo: Sakhithemba Half-Way House, South Africa, for youth in conflict with the law – one of the representatives is a Sakhithemba representative; staff photo
The socio political problem in Madagascar is still very serious, and is having considerable impact on social work. Madagascar YMCA centres and offices are open every day and the project activities are in progress, but there are difficulties and delays in schedules and implementation due to the political situation. There seems no quick solution to negotiated peace, since the violent political unrest in January. The most severely affected project is that of vocational training. While our beneficiaries understand this, they are disappointed by the country’s situation as they are relying on this YMCA project to assist their development.
Marie Hélène Raharivololona is 17 years old. She left the school very early, just after primary phase because her parents could not afford her school fees. She is saddened by the present situation and life is now even more expensive. It is the reason why a lot of young people participated in the robberies and looting she explained: it was just to survive, to find what to eat every day. But she says that she knows that robberies are not acceptable, and that she would never participate in that kind of activity.
Marie Hélène’s biggest concern is the general strike. “It will block everything, including my chance to have this vocational training through the YMCA. The country is going to sink into serious economic crises and people are going to become even more aggressive.” Marie Hélène witnessed how this happens in her own family. Her father works as a ‘pousse pousse man’ (pousse pousse is a traditional chariot pushed by a person), transporting goods such as furniture or vegetables. As the tradesmen now don't sell much, there are fewer things to transport. Before, her father used to earned Ar 15.000 per week (USD 15 per week), but last week he only earned Ar 5.000 (5USD). Worse, her mother didn't understand, and they were fighting all week. Marie Hélène says they still manage to eat twice a day, but they have decreased the quantity.
Another beneficiary, Iva Niaina Randriakotoarivony, 20 years old, speaks of his own difficulty in helping his mother to secure the family food. Since his father's death, he had to work on small jobs to help his mother. He dropped out of school very early. Iva Niaina’s mother works for a textile company and she was forced to stop because the company reduced its employees. She received only Ar 20.000, which was not even sufficient for one week. And since the crisis, Iva Niaina gets less as well. He was looking forward to becoming a mechanic through the YMCA vocational training programme, and is very disappointed that the schedules have been delayed because of the situation.
Our beneficiaries are seriously affected by the present crisis. And it seems that the situation is not about to improve quickly. On Tuesday this week, another negotiation was to be held in Ambohimanambola – a neutral place. When President Marc Ravalomanana did not arrive, the opposition, led by Andry Rajoelina, interpreted it as an insult and decided to stop the negotiations. The Roman Catholic Church also decided to stop its participation in any mediation activity with the Federation of the Christian churches, and asked the United Nation to take the mediation initiatives. But the regulation in the Federation of the Christian churches (FFKM) is based on the unanimity of the decisions, which means that this federation won't be able to assure any act of mediation anymore.
“The YMCA is committed to serving our beneficiaries as best we can in these trying times. This is the time when the youth need us most as they are badly affected by the unrest and instability,” said Jose Rambinintsoa, Chair of the YMCA Madagascar board.
Photo: Marie Hélène Raharivololona; staff photo
By: Lantonirina Rakotomalala,General Secretary, Madagascar YMCA
A new era is dawning for leadership in YMCAs in Africa, as evidenced by the appointment of E. Edward Gboe as National General Secretary of Liberia YMCA. An energetic young leader with a proven track record in the YMCA, Edward brings with him fresh perspective a passion for a community-driven approach.
With thirteen years’ experience in organisational development and management, the YMCA is in good hands with Edward at the helm. He is a graduate Student in Public Administration and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management. Edward has participated in many local and international training seminars, including training in management and organisational capacity building. In addition, he holdsa certificate in Youth Administration, Advocacy and Community Development from the World Alliance of YMCAs.Edward is currently a member of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs Capacity Building Team for movement strengthening and technical support to national movements. He has worked for many years in rural communities in Liberia, delivering services in community development with a number of local and international organisations. Before his appointment, Edward served as Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator of the European Union Community Rehabilitation Program in Liberia.
By: Gil Harper
The time has come for Africa’s voice to be heard, was the clear message articulated by the new Chairperson of the African Union, Leader Muammar Gaddafi, of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, during the recent African Union (AU) 12th ordinary session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Gaddafi emphasised the need to balance Africa’s relationship with the international community, by taking into account justice and the respect for the African people so that they are given their rightful place in the world arena, according to AU press releases.
One of the main actions on his agenda is the status of Africa to be allocated permanent seats at the United Nations Security Council which will be carried out during his mandate, as Chairperson of the AU.
“The time has come for Africa’s voice to be heard through its active participation in the African civil society,” he said, emphasising on the need for all the citizens of Africa, irrespective of their gender and age, to assume their full responsibility as citizens of Africa so as to ensure the development of the continent by strengthening it to overcome the multiple challenges Africa is facing today.
“The Africa Alliance of YMCAs has embarked on an ambitious Subject to Citizen project which focuses on providing youth with the space, place and ability to influence decision-making, in particular that affecting the youth themselves. The issue of citizenship is particularly pertinent for Africa and for youth organisations, so we are in support of any continental focus on citizenship,” said Carlos Sanvee, General Secretary of the Alliance.
The theme or the 12th ordinary session, focusing on infrastructural development in Africa with an emphasis on the transport and energy sectors, could not have been more appropriate. Africa’s ultimate quest to eradicate poverty and industrialise can only be realised if infrastructure is put in place.
A good portion of Africa’s productive agricultural, mining and tourism hinterland is inaccessible due to lack of or poor road, waterway or air transport. Much time is wasted in African travel by air as there are few direct flights between countries and sometimes one has to connect from one African destination to another through Europe. If we quantify the money and time lost, one can appreciate the need to invest in African transport. Manhours are lost as African citizens are often stuck in traffic for a third of their working day - cities like Acccra, Abuja and Nairobi are prime examples of this.
Development of energy infrastructure will result in a great upliftment of African lifestyles, with more homes being electrified. Not only is electricity a cleaner form of power compared to wood and cow dung, it is more efficient and environmentally superior when compared to rampant tree cutting. Energy development in general and electricity in particular also has a gender dimension to it – women are saved time and energy looking for and carrying firewood. Women bear the labour-intensive burden of gathering and carrying firewood as well as preparing the fire. Freed from this, empowerment can be realised through women’s involvement in various development initiatives.
A well-coordinated infrastructure development can be a big employer - it will provide employment to many African citizens, taxes to governments and concessions to private companies, resulting in a win-win scenario for all stakeholders involved.
It is sad to note that Africa is endowed with resources that we do not control. The Inga River in the Democratic Republic of Congo can light the vast sub-southern African countries, Nigeria produces crude oil but imports refined oil and is notorious for power cuts. Without energy development, industrialisation remains a dream. A clear focus on energy and transport in Africa is taking the first steps towards industrialisation and ultimately poverty eradication and gender equality for our citizenry.
By: Tawanda Chimurenga
Superstition holds that Friday 13th is a day of good or bad luck. In the Gregorian calendar, this day occurs at least once a year. So what is the significance of this day for Zimbabweans?
It is the day when SADC frog marched the MDC down the aisle in a forced marriage to the cheating and callous ZANU PF. Long regarded as a dictator’s club, SADC acted as the groom’s father in giving away the MDC in a one-sided relationship where ZANU PF has everything to gain and nothing to lose.
The question is: is this the new trend of African politics? If all winning opposition parties have to form a unity government with losing dictators like the situation of Kenya and Zimbabwe, then what is the need of holding the elections in the first place? On April 22, South Africa will be going to the polls to choose a president and party of their choice. Why not just save money and people’s time and ANC, COPE, IFP and DA can form a government of national unity, since South Africa is an avid fan of this one-size-fits-all political arrangement. It also brings in the question that if ANC is to lose in the elections, will it bow out gracefully? Just asking.
The ink of Tsvangirayi’s signature on the power sharing agreement has not even dried and South Africa is already inhumanly bundling Zimbabweans in their hundreds and shipping them back to the troubled nation. A locally-based human rights organisation has criticised South Africa for the forced repatriation of Zimbabweans without first guaranteeing their safety. Southern African Women for Immigration Affairs (SAWIMA) spokesperson Joyce Dube repeated accusations first made by the South African branch of MDC that South African police are rounding up Zimbabweans, and deporting them on the basis that the opposition party is now in charge of Zimbabwe. She added that repatriating the victims without first punishing the perpetrators of the violence they went through would only see them re-live the trauma when they return home. In a statement, the MDC said, “Dozens of marked police trucks were seen hovering around Hillbrow, Braamfontein, Yeoville and Berea, arresting Zimbabweans. Some were intercepted on their way to work and one woman was taken while on her way from leaving her child at pre-school.” The MDC also accused the South African police of ignoring valid papers like permits and passports that some of the Zimbabweans possess.
Surely there is no evidence or any sign yet that the all-inclusive Zimbabwe government will work. The latest farm invasions in Zimbabwe and the arrest of the MDC treasurer general and Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate Roy Bennett tell the story of what really to expect from Mugabe and his cronies. It also shows the true colours of SADC who promised the safety of Bennett. If SADC is sincere in its one-sided deal, then why are they not telling Mugabe to behave and secure the release of Roy “Pachedu” Bennett. The police accused Bennett of treason and then banditry and it took days for him to be officially charged. What are SADC and AU doing about this unfortunate betrayal of the inclusive government spirit?
Zimbabweans are in South Africa not by choice – they fled from persecution, their homes were burnt down, breadwinners abducted or murdered and we can also not run away from the fact that the economy is dead, giving life only to hunger and abject poverty. The world, including South Africa, knows about the abductions in Zimbabwe, they know about Murambatsvina where peoples’ houses were destroyed, resulting in deaths of a number of children and terminally ill people, the violent attacks on opposition supporters and the latest cholera outbreak that has also sneaked into South Africa and other African countries.
Further, how are the deported going to survive? Do they have rights of any sorts? If Mugabe has the gall to arrest a senior MDC official on swearing-in day, then what about these little fish? If a journalist is abducted and killed in Zimbabwe, he is not a hero. It may make small news on the day and the next day it is all forgotten. It will be left to the family of the deceased to suffer without their breadwinner. Life goes on for everyone else. SADC, led by South Africa, is behaving like a spoilt lot who do not know what suffering and poverty means. I challenge one of the SADC leaders to send their 12-year-old child to stay in Mbare, Harare, Makokoba or Bulawayo for three months. Not as a tourist or in those fancy luxurious student exchange programmes, but with a local family - just living as Zimbabweans do.
SADC leaders should stop thinking as if they are born leaders, but rather as human beings with an understanding of what it means to be human especially a poor one. Zimbabweans are not saying they want to stay in South Africa forever. All they want is a life. They want to be able to live and provide for their families. A roof over their heads and a meal is all they need. There is no place like home and obviously they want to go home as soon as there are jobs for them so that they can fend for their families. They want to feel secure and not fear being targeted, abducted, jailed or even killed.
Yes Tsvangirayi is now the Prime Minister but what does it mean for a hungry Zimbabwean? Tsvangirayi will move into the state house with his family only. One may be his supporter, but you will be arrested the moment you try to get close to his residency to beg for lunch. Prime Minister Tsvangirayi just cannot feed all Zimbabweans or protect them. He could not secure the release of MDC activists languishing in prison and he could not save Eric Bennett from arrest. What about the unknowns who will just disappear and no-one will notice?
Of course Zimbabweans need to go back and rebuild the country but their safety and wellbeing has to be guaranteed. If Mugabe wants all the Zimbabweans back home, not a problem. Charity begins at home. He should also bring his daughter back first so that she will go to the same school with no books or teachers in Chitungwiza; the same for his ministers. I wonder what memories Zimbabweans will have of their treatment in the hands of the South African government and what they will tell their children about SADC. How will Thabo Mbeki and his mates be judged and remembered? I will remember them as accomplices to the people of Zimbabwe’s suffering and for being a disgrace as African leaders. Now I know where South African President Malema learns his leadership style from. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Shame.
After the series of violence and vandalism that occurred in the capital city during the end of January, Antananarivo, the capital city of Madagascar, came back to normal for a moment. Economic activities re-started, the YMCA office opened again, and life was gradually coming back to normal. However, anxiety still prevailed and fear and concern haunted the population.
The opposing party, the recently removed mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, called for demonstrations on Saturday February 7, in front of the presidential palace to claim for a non satisfied demand – his call for a transitional government with him at the helm. And then the most dreadful happened. The protestors were trespassing a ‘red zone’ where no-one was admitted without prior authorisation, and the presidential guards fired at the population. As a result, about 50 lost their lives and hundreds were injured. Carnage, butchery… many such words can be used to name what followed.
What was to follow still reflects the shadow of this fear and of trauma. The following day, the city was quiet, as if nothing had happened before. People went to work, children went back to school, stores re-opened and the black market was again blooming. The Defence Minister resigned, the opposition party appointed their Prime Minister to lead the High Authority for Transition as they call it. The church federation and the international community intervened for mediation without much success.
The YMCA’s position is clear: neutrality and mediation. But the most important is to think of how to face such a situation. When we concentrate on the key word of the vision statement – empowerment - and analyse the situation, the YMCA wants to be first of all an active agent for human development. “The situation also called for more in-depth reflection on how to support young people to get out of extreme poverty, and to no longer be objects of manipulation but responsible citizens, as we dream of,” said Jose Rambinintsoa, Chair of the YMCA Madagascar board.
“Along this line, the YMCA is still running its activities. Our baseline study for our vocational training project will be adapted to take into account the impact of the crisis. Nonetheless, the YMCA has has to suspend its awareness sessions and conferences planned in the framework of the vocational training project, in order to avoid the political interpretations.
“The school canteen will continue to function, given that the inflation, exacerbated by the crisis, doesn't allow parents to attend to the needs of their families. On top of this, the calendars of activities will be somewhat modified.”
Both Rajoelina and President Marc Ravalomanana have released statements deploring the violence and both have declared committed to negotiations, despite initially denouncing this option. The people of Madagascar wait and see…
Photo: Demonstrators at the President’s television station, YMCA staff photo
By: By Lantonirina Rakotomalala, Madagascar YMCA National General Secretary
At the recent South African Poverty Hearings, it was noted that the group most affected by poverty has shifted from the elderly to the youth. Youth now suffer the brunt of bad policies which results in poor education, inefficient life skills and unemployment. As if not bad enough, HIV/AIDS, crime, drug abuse and high rates of unwanted teenage pregnancy are also wreaking havoc, not only in South Africa but across the whole continent.
In South African prison cells a large proportion of offenders are classified as youth, many of whom are held for serious crimes that include murder, rape and armed robbery. Only God knows what they will do for a living when they leave prison. For political parties, the status of the youth is irrelevant – offenders, ex-offenders, non-offenders – as long as they are eligible to vote. Political parties will stop at nothing to win an election and the youth vote can bring much support. It did amazing magic for Barack Obama in the United States presidential elections and you can imagine what it can do for the South African political parties who are going to the polls in the next few months.
Besides their vote, the youth are the most active come election time. They volunteer to put up posters and conduct door-to-door voter drive campaigns. Unfortunately, the youth are also used for dirty campaign tactics like political violence, intimidation and harassment. In the infamous India Mumbai attacks where more than 185 innocent people were killed and many more injured, the perpetrators were all younger than 25 years old. This had nothing to do with elections but instead had everything to do with politics. In Kenya’s post-election violence that claimed the lives of more than a thousand people, the youth were most active in the gruesome killings. In Zimbabwe the story is the same. The unemployed youth are unleashed to torment their families, friends, neighbours and everyone perceived to be supporting the opposition.
This brings the following questions to mind: What is the youth’s role in politics? Is it really worth it for the youth to be involved in politics? How well represented are the youth in government? Are the youth getting a fair share of the cake?
In South Africa, Durban YMCA Manager, Ian Booth, in an interview with a local radio station, argued that youth are not getting a real deal. He explained the youth are promised a lot by the political parties, and then very little is done for them following election day. He cited the rise in unemployment, teenage pregnancy and crime rates as some of the products of bad policies that affect the youth. Booth believes that the government is not developing the youth or preparing them to be responsible future leaders. He pointed out that it is only organisations such as the YMCA and others who are equipping young people with much-needed life skills.
His sentiments have been voiced by the leader of the African Christian Democratic Party, Rev Kenneth Meshoe. He stated that one of the major challenges in South Africa is moral decadence, which is an indirect result of a lack of good role models in the leadership of the country.
When it comes to the big question of how to choose a political party that will further the interests of the youth, it is wise to always look to the leadership to decide if they are good role models. They should not only be good orators but must also be visionaries who are accountable to the people for their actions. Booth warned against the excitement of just going with the flow, and instead believes voters should look at what all the parties and politicians have to offer.
Now is the time for the African youth to believe in themselves and also rise above party politics. The youth should not wait for governments to do everything for them or believe everything said by politicians. It is time to make the politicians answerable to the masses and it is time to take Africa to another level.
Photo: Street boys incarcerated, 5 Sep 2008, Dave Blume
By: Tafadzwa Ndiyamba
Youth campaigner and volunteer, Mohamed Oman Buahin Sandy was recently awarded the Outstanding National Children of Excellence award for 2008 by the Children’s Forum Network (CFN) through the Ministry of Social Welfare Gender and Children’s Affairs.
He was recognised and commended for his campaigning for youth justice through Sierra Leone YMCA. This has involved raising awareness through advocacy about rights of the youth, solidarity march, radio discussions and jingles, and monitoring of courts and detention centres.
Sandy has been volunteering since 1997 as a youth campaigner for the Youth Justice in Action Campaign, Sierra Leone Chapter. He is currently the Secretary General for the YMCA National Youth Council where he has participated at all levels to become one of the prime champions on youth issues.
Sandy said he was passionate about youth development issues, justice and youth empowerment, and that one of his key focus areas of volunteerism was around the protection and maximisation of the welfare and potential of young people.
The award winner is a graduate from Fourah Bay College where he studied Linguistics and Sociology. He also holds a Diploma in Cultural Studies, and served as Vice President of the Student Union.
On Friday 30 January 2009, we witnessed a formal revival of the floundered political agreement for power-sharing in Zimbabwe, and we now wait to see the swearing in of Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister on 11 February and the formation of an all-party government on 13 February.
Despite the Zanu-PF and MDC having hardliners amongst their ranks, it is a good start to note that the two political leaders were open minded and gave each other some concessions to share power during the last round of discussions.
However, enormous challenges will test whether the marriage vows will stand the tough matrimonial times that lie ahead. Mugabe unilaterally appointed key positions of Attorney General and Reserve Bank Governor in December without MDC’s input.
The issue of provincial governors, ministerial allocations and the abduction of MDC’s activists continues. The altered provisions of the original agreement are a major test of sincerity on Zanu-PF’s part , who claimed they were typographical errors.
On Tsvangirai’s part, he assumes all responsibility while Mugabe has all authority at a prima facie glance of the document. Health, education, the economy and all sectors have collapsed. Will the west give Tsvangirai aid, while Mugabe remains branding the western imperialists? Is this finally the beginning of easing Mugabe out of office after a generation at the helm? Like any marriage, let us wait and see as only time will tell.
By: Tawanda Chimurenga