This African Youth And Governance Convergence (AYGC) delegate from Ghana can’t help but be poetic at this rate
And she is not even exaggerating the least
The convergence was just such a powerful experience
I hope I capture my experience well enough
Prologue-Launch of the 11th African Youth and Governance Convergence (AYGC)
A launch of the 11th edition of the African Youth and Governance Convergence it was and I, the privileged guest. It was happening in one of the plush hotels in the city and boy how I showed up for it! I called myself the privileged guest because I was attending (together with a colleague) on behalf of the non-profit we work for-The Family Trust. Thanks so much director. You set me up for an experience of a life time!
From the opening prayer till the unveiling of the plaque, I observed with much interest the importance attached to the event. And all the while I kept saying to myself: ‘if the launch has such media and government officials then the actual convergence will be awesome!’
Wait. I had not seen anything yet.
Further into the launch, a number of alumni shared their experiences and I discovered that one of them, a tertiary student together with her mates, had set up an NGO to support the education of children in one rural area. All because of her experience from the previous year’s AYGC! Wow this AYGC must be something!
That night, I carefully thought through all the ideas I had been nurturing till that day. They looked so possible as my ink brought them to life on the sheets of my notepad. I had been stirred up to do something about them!
Well, now that I think of it, I guess I was a way consoling myself also; that is, if I did not make it to the convergence. Ha-ha!
Behind the scenes…
So, miracles do happen and this talker right here was given a rare opportunity on a golden platter; yes, golden platter. Ladies and gentlemen, I was going to be a delegate at AYGC 2019! (C’mon this is the point where I get an applause!).
Of course, my joy overflowed its boundaries!
For the remaining weeks, AYGC was all I could dream about. My friends and family heard nothing than AYGC. And my childhood fantasies of meeting different people from different parts of the world, becoming a reality. I packed a dress a day, getting my seamstress busy with a dress for the African night. I tasked my mum with the selection of spices, in readiness for the country cuisine. I was the empress; everyone was at my service. Ha-ha!
I read on issues I found relevant to the convergence. Chaley! (My Friend) I had to up my game for such a gathering of ‘big’ minds.
Thanks to an open world all the past 10 editions of AYGC were only a few clicks away on my android phone. I checked out the pictures and videos a hundred and nth time! In fact, I could place every photo to its year and venue.
- The soldier’s wife from Zimbabwe, (then Rhodesia)
- Mandy from Nairobi Kenya
- The shouts of ‘Umuofia kwenu’ I had heard from Chinua Achebe so many times
- Thus, how far I travelled Africa’s depth and breath growing up…
- Only through her books…
- My beloved African classics!
So, you can imagine my wide-eyed expectancy. Here I was, about to experience living among sons and daughters of these lands I had only read about. Not twitter chats, but in a real-life setting and with real conversations. In fact, if that was the only purpose AYGC sought to achieve, I would be fulfilled! Hehe. I was not travelling out of Ghana, but for me, it was like the world will be knocking at my door in a matter of days!
AYGC at last!
So, 11th August 2019 finally came and I went to the convergence grounds all ready for the events yet to unfold.
Right from day one we learnt simple words like Akwaaba, Karibu, Asante Sana etc. With simple questions as ‘how did you hear of the AYGC?’ we sparked off hearty conversations, reaching deep into our practices as a people, just as the brothers and sisters we have always been. It was like a family reunion! I could not even get my name tag that first night without making a friend. We had amazing team building sessions that did us so much good.
So, by the time we worked at committee levels we were already familiar with one another. I was on the committee on Education and we looked at the challenges of education on the continent, with regards to access and quality, and even more making the African youth resourceful enough to take up the reins of leadership. It was the part of the convergence I was really looking forward to. Sharing our ideas on the issues was insightful since the issues were common to us all. We explored what our governments were doing and found how we can learn from each other. And I can say same for all the other committees.
AYGC General Assembly
Indeed, those committee working times were wonderful days (with tongue in cheek) of little sleep in preparation towards the great General Assembly (GA) of the convergence. I was especially impressed by the work of our coaches; mostly professors, educationists youth activists, government officials and alumni. These were people who had come to invest in Africa’s leaders, and did so with zest. They have rich experiences and we were privileged to have been engaged by them all week during plenary sessions. From discussions on nurturing strong intergenerational systems for Africa in terms of political space participation and succession planning for corporate and public service, they gave us so much to ponder and to be inspired by.
GA day was amazing; notably the debate sessions. You should have seen the passionate and profound submissions by my fellow delegates. The tension when the nays were getting louder, and the relief when the ayes were more. Altogether, the energy I felt in that room was infectious. I saw a youth who knew that opportunities were theirs for the taking, if Africa is to progress. That day was a turning point for me. My confidence after speaking before that great house increased by a thousand folds.
Now, lest I forget, we had a durbar in commemoration of the International Youth Day with the Paramount Chief of the Oguaa Traditional Area, and a historical tour to the Elmina Castle (both in the Central region of Ghana). We marked the Year of Return too, (2019 marks the 400years of the Trans -Atlantic slave trade in the history of Africa) so that all connect with our identity as Africans and be challenged unto pushing the continent to where it is supposed to be.
Time with a legend
The best part of these events was the night when we all, adorned in full regalia of our homelands; that same night, we received one of Africa’s greatest men, His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, the former president of Nigeria. I was so excited. O what a night! It was mini Africa clothed in beautiful colours and smiles! Just like the Africa we want; I didn’t want it to end!
We made our final night as memorable as we could. Starting off with a feast of dishes from all the countries represented there; it was as one delegate put it, ‘the taste of Africa on one plate’!
And then we danced and laughed to beautiful tunes from the continent. We clung to every moment so fondly knowing that in a matter of hours we will be missing those precious moments. As for the selfies you can only imagine…
Hands in soil
That’s the only way to toil
The seeds you keep
Those ones you will never reap
Get out and make hay
Keep the pride and guilt away
That’s the only
That’s the only way to grow
(LYRICS FROM ‘GROW’-AYGC THEME SONG)
What I’ll miss
I miss our daily-meal times at the restaurant. So much bonding happened there. It was interesting to school fellow delegates on the local dishes and see them make faces. I can still hear the laughter and chatter that rung out across the room from the many tables.
I witnessed Cupid’s arrow as gentle and small as it is shatter language barriers and have its way. I watched with awe a passion so strong for an Africa that works, take the better part of our differences.
And so each day, as I walk here on the streets of Accra, relishing every bit of those moments with the honourable delegates of AYGC 2019; I am confident that from when the sun rises till it sets on each of our home countries, there is an ever zealous youth working tirelessly in their own small ways towards an Africa beyond aid.
Platforms as the AYGC are important and timely in these times where the conversation is all about nurturing and sensitizing African youth for leadership towards Africa’s development. I can’t even begin to put into words how grateful I am to the organisers, especially the visioner Mr. Seth Oteng for giving me the opportunity to participate in AYGC 2019.
My world has suddenly grown bigger. From where I sit, I see collaborations for the development we seek made easy. What more can say? Well maybe a little show off on my diversity of tongues since those past 7 days will do. So here you go:
Medaase, Asante sana, Merci beaucoup, Tatenda, Thank you!
About African Youth And Governance Convergence (AYGC)
Initiated and convened by the Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF), the African Youth and Governance Convergence is the convergence of a 4-tier leadership programme for African and Diaspora youth; leadership grooming, cascade of mentorship, community impact and networking and exchanges.
African Youth and Governance Convergence since 2009 also brings together youth leaders, educationists, government officials among others and is hosted by the various African countries. During the week long stay, Participants are put into committees on Education, Health, Governance and leadership, Employment and Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Rule of law and Justice, Diaspora youth affairs, foreign affairs, Environment. Through intense research, discussions and debates, delegates present their recommendations to these challenges at a General Assembly.
This year it took place in Ghana, at the Hillview Guest Centre at Abokobi, Accra under the theme: ‘PARTNERSHIPS FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT; KEY TO BUILDING AFRICA BEYOND AID’ Get all the details of #AYGC2019 at http://aygconvergence.org/
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