1.7.14

Week II: Notes from my YALI SCRAP Book

“Given all the natural resources that we have in Africa, and all the other resources that we have been blessed with, does any one know why Africa remains the way it is now? I cant count the number of times I have heard this particular question been asked. I wish Prof. Babatunde’s class with us all at #UDWFL #YALI2014 on “Challenges Facing Africa” was the last time, I will be asked such a question. Sadly it won't. 


Last week was quite hectic and intense. We had closed to 11 academic tutors and mentors, who took us through cross-cutting interdisciplinary subjects - like “Democratic Representation and Accountability in the US; Rule of Law and Judicial Independence; Challenges facing Africa. We also visited a couple of NGOs, CBOs like Easter Seal, Delaware Center for Comptemporary Arts (DCCA) as well as some historic centres like the 9/11 Memorial, Stature of Liberty, Twin Tower…etc"

Learning about American history in-depth for the first time was very much an eye opening for me. Through this program, I was able to get deeper understanding on how the US system is structure,  particularly about their federal system and most interesting how though there is one federal constitution, each of the 50 states has its own constitution, local government structure (county but not sovereign). 

The American polity is quite complex and vast and yet it has managed to minimise faction. 

SO - WHAT is the issue with Africa? if I may ask -

What would it mean for most African government to provide participatory leadership? 

How can African youth partner with their government to improve services and better their community and country? Prof. Babatunde asked.

During one of our sessions, we had a conversation on Mandela, being one of the exemplary on Africa Leadership “he gave the type of leadership that generates servant leadership. As #African we can contribute to the rest of the world” said Prof. Setiloane 

Further, Prof Setiloene provokes each one of us to think deeper to “Why was NelsonMandela the way he was? 

My take home however from last week kept me reflecting on Nelson Mandela’s leadership approach and how his uniqueness and values could be the one Africa model we can uphold in terms of advancing effective (citizen) Leadership in Africa.


 Just as Prof said; YES- “we know what the current state of Africa is but can we look at the future and its transition?” 

NOTE: #UDWFL or #UDWFYAL is the General hashtag for Washington Fellows on Placement at University of Delaware

27.6.14

STATEMENT FROM YOUTH ACTIVISTS TO CAMEROON OFFICIALS ON POST2015

"Cameroon: Prioritize Youth Issues at the Heart of post2015‬ Development GoalsBuea‬Cameroon‬"
On June 10, 2014, twenty-two (22) youth leaders and activists representing 10 youth-led organisations across the country joined the association, @Women for a Change Cameroon (WFAC) for an Experts Strategic Meeting that seeks to develop ideas, brainstorm and build strategies on how to engage and gain government’s support in promoting strong language around youth development issues, sexual and reproductive health information, education, and services for young people and adolescents with respect for their human rights
Participants of the meeting have all been actively engaged in the Post-2015 process for over a period of 14 months.
“As grassroots youth and women’s right activists, we have a chance now to add our voice to the global call on the future we want”, says Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo, Executive Director, “we need to engage with our government officials and ensure they commit in prioritizing youth issues at the heart of the development goal, especially aspects that deal with the full realization of their sexual and reproductive health rights, dignity and integrity”.
The post2015 process entails a series of discussions and consultations to draft the next development agenda that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals established in the year 2000. This WFAC strongly believes, Zoneziwoh says; “is closely related to the attainment of Cameroon’s Vision2035 as realization of this vision greatly depends on the investment made now on youth with commitment in prioritizing youth issues in the post2015 development framework”.
We therefore urge the state of Cameroon not to make the mistake of leaving youth and women's health issues behind. Our rights matters and must not be ignore in the post2015 deliberations!

25.6.14

THE FIGHT FOR SELF-CONSTRUCTED IDENTITIES: SHOCKING SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THE LGBT RIGHTS MOVEMENTS AND THE DISABILITY RIGHTS MOVEMENT

So, this afternoon’s lecture was about LGBT rights. Apart from it being a very insightful discussion, the session sounded very much like a class on the disability rights movement. By this I mean that I discovered that there are shocking similarities between the LGBT rights movement and the disability rights movement.
What are these similarities?
Well, to start with the two movements started as a breakaway from medical identities. Medical professionals labeled those with different sexual orientations to everybody else as homosexuals. Similarly, medical professional gave various medical labels to people with impairments. Both groups found themselves excluded from society because of these identities.
In response to this, both groups have stood up and started movements whose main purpose is to be included as full members of society – the LGBT rights movements and the disability rights movement. Both movements are self-representation bodies, that is, they are comprised of and driven by the very people whose interests are being promoted. Also, both movements are contesting strongly held social norms, promoting the accepting of difference and fighting for citizenship rights. It’s a fight for self-constructed identities and the legal recognition of these identities.
For some strange reasons, the two struggles have somewhat played out the same way. Both movements began as a breakaway from medical identities as I have already mentioned. Both movements have had clashes with police due to their identities as social deviates without a place in society.
Both movements took advantage of the opportunity that was created by the civil rights movement to have their voices heard. Both movements have used feminist arguments to promote their cause – they also sometimes disagree with feminist constructions of a human being. Both movements have been one of the central issues in major policy reforms, including gaining traction in presidential election campaigns. The issues of both movements have moved from personal/private issues to human rights issues.
From these developments, it can be seen that both movements have made a steady movement towards their main goal of building inclusive societies which accept human difference. However, both movements are carrying on with their fights as there has not yet been the universal acceptance of their identities, even within the movements themselves – apparently, both movements do not agree on what to call themselves.

click here to read more about Washington Fellowship 
Follow the YALI WF conversation on social media:

#WashingtonFellows – General hashtag for the Washington Fellowship program
#YALI2014 – General hashtag for this year’s [2014] Young African Leaders Initiative
#YALICHAT – Hashtag to link to the greater YALI Network (beyond the Washington Fellowship)
#UDWFL  or #UDWFYAL - General hashtag for Washington Fellows on Placement at University of Delaware

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The Op-Ed is a cross posting from 
Edmore Tendai Masendeke, Zimbabwean Disability Activist and blogger, currently on placement at the University of Delaware, taking Civic Leadership.

24.6.14

YALI WEEK 1 TAKE HOME

The Africa we want like Prof Maloba, one of our UD YALI Mentor said  lies in our hands, the young people.  The answer reside among you, said Delaware Governor, Jack Markell, to us all during our visit at the Legislative house on Thursday June 19 2014.

It’s been a week since I began my leadership journey as a UD Washington Fellows 2014, here at University of Delaware. Though the days have passed but the the echoing words from our mentors and instructors still ring loud and clear in my head, reminding me of who I am and the responsibility I have as a young african leader, [ Young African Leaders Initiative Network]

Africa like the rest of the world is changing - yes. But can these changes help advance sustainable development in Africa? What Change do We (I) want for Africa by 2063? What is the Africa I want - for women, children and all? These and many other questions I have been reflecting on as I learn more about American history and politics, especially how the American system was structured, to include community participation?

My take-home for this first week therefore is The Africa We (I) want starts from Us (Me). I am the definition of Africa.

17.5.14

A Young Cameroonian Woman's Reflections on CPD47

The Cameroon we want by 2035 is certainly not a Cameroon that rejects and abuses peoples’ rights. It is certainly also not a country that doesn’t realize that it is a development profit to involve and invest in young people, including aspects that promote the full realization of their sexual and reproductive health rights.

Last month, April, I left my little city, Buea, for New York to attend the 47th session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD). Joining over 300 youth activists across the globe, together we spent a week hopping from one UN building and/or corridor to the next, to one government leader/head to the other,  exchanging thoughts and opinions, and / or contributing to inputs on language around the negotiated document. There were moments that we spent several hours and sometimes staying up till 2am or 7am, monitoring each move for opportunities to share our voices and imposed our presence and negotiated language to government authorities at the outcome documents. Which were either written on paper, text and / or narrated orally.  And when we were not at the corridors lobbying, we were either attending side meetings or were active on social media, engaging with young people around the world, garnering their local support and urging them to amplify our voices locally and widely.

This year’s CPD marked an important moment in development history. Firstly, it is 20 years after Cairo consensus of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action (PoA). Secondly, it negotiated outcome document shall play an important role in influencing the post2015 development review. Like most of my colleague, particularly those in the civil society, I had great expectations and hopes on the outcome document. I knew for sure that world leaders, including Cameroon government will be more progressive and positive in articulating strong human rights language, especially that which addresses youth and women empowerment, adolescents and young people’s sexual and reproductive health rights and services.

Having realized that, the regional outcome documents - Addis Abeba Declaration was quite progressive in  the promotion amongst other, young people’s sexual and reproductive health rights and services, access to comprehensive sexuality education.  I was very confident of the CPD47 negotiated outcome document to be a landmark of the century. Sadly, my expectations were a little shattered when Cameroon (negotiators) were far from admitting to existing commitments that were agreed upon at the ICPD, 20 years ago in Cairo, as well as last September 2013 in Addis Abeba. They rejected every language that had sexual rights and reproduction that it was a masked for SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity and expression). And instead aligned and led a team of conservative groups of some African countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Sudan (excluding the Holy See, Rome), all under the banner of "African group" to reject on any language on rights. It was very devastating and at the same time surprising for me, seeing Cameroon of all nations leading an African Revolution against Rights at the UN headquarters suddenly becoming friends with countries that have got little or no mutual relationship.

Inasmuch as I do recognized Cameroon’s timid approach towards advancing gender equality, youth and women's empowerment rights, particularly in women's political leadership and education, With the experience at New York, I wonder if it indeed cares about the people, especially the women, youth and girls, and whether it is ready to realizing vision 2035 that seeks to make Cameroon an emerging, democratic and united nation in diversity by 2035.