The African Youth and Governance convergence (AYGC) is a 4-tier leadership grooming programme for African and Diaspora youth. The 7-day annual gathering seeks to equip youth for leadership, through Leadership grooming, Cascade of mentorship, Community impact, Networking and Exchanges.
You will agree with me that this is an attractive ‘package’. In fact, I wondered exactly how this was done behind the glitz and glam of the pictures I had seen; Was it the usual speaker-audience talk? How can so much be done in just a matter of days?
Well, let me do you the honour with my 2019- alumnus experience:
Africa’s youth forms its largest population. These youth are the next generation of African leaders and have to be inspired and nurtured unto leadership. Yet this is a challenge because for a long time this same group have not been involved in leadership and governance as much as they should, whether at our public institutions, or in the corporate spaces.
At AYGC, we had extensive discussions concerning this, and explored having a succession plan through intergenerational systems (I will talk more about this in my next post). Beyond that, however, I observed the AYGC approach to leadership grooming in:
Youth leaders at convergence grounds
Firstly I learnt that by custom, activities at the convergence are administered by a president and a vice president. So young people from among participants (appointed on a criteria by the AYGC secretariat) were tasked with this role. They ensured that there is a seamless order of events, and that delegates are cooperative. At General Assembly (GA), they were the chairpersons, seeing to the smooth running of proceedings at the house. Again regarding work at the committees, chairpersons were elected to steer activities. Here too, all of the work was done by delegates, and the various chairs coordinated. The coaches only had to supervise.
This is the point. The coaches stay back and put power in the hands of these youth. The administration of the convergence and committee work is put in the hands of participating youth. This way they could demonstrate their competency in handling the issues that we faced on a daily basis at convergence grounds. They put their leadership abilities to use in real contexts.
Research and drafting of policies.
At AYGC research and drafting of policies is the major grooming activity.
Now let me quickly brief you on exactly how this is done.
For the purposes of research and policy drafting, delegates are furnished with synopsis on all thematic areas, previous years’ resolutions booklets and materials to fall on for information, long before the convergence time. Later at the convergence participants are briefed on GA guidelines and exactly what is expected of every committee. Again there is a mock GA session before the actual GA day. And then at GA ideas, thoughts and opinions are presented to the house for debate and voting.
As such, committee work was mostly brainstorming and ascertaining how workable suggested solutions can be. The well-organised nature of this all important activity, made it a walk in the park, yet a critical learning process.
What better way of knowing what the youth have to offer than to provide them the platform to demonstrate it? What else could be more effective than allowing them to analyse the issues that they are daily faced with and contribute ideas in solving them? The whole idea of drafting policies and generating solutions to challenges was ‘BIG’ for us! I mean we hear of these issues every time, discuss it and that is the end. But there we were at convergence grounds, presented with a rare opportunity to be actively involved with thinking beyond the challenges, for solutions!
Indeed it is a tactful approach to grooming leaders.
Cascade of mentorship
Also in attendance at AYGC were some accomplished men and women. They were participating not as delegates, but as helpers to the good cause of AYGC. We had educationists, social entrepreneurs, youth leaders and activists, professors, ministers of state, and the convener of AYGC himself – Mr Seth Oteng-Executive Director of Youth Bridge Foundation. These wonderful people stayed with us as coaches the entire time. They were assigned committees according to their area of interest and knowledge. They served as guides throughout committee work so that we would not be a youth of zeal without knowledge.
Their expertise was a readily available go-to resource for us, all week round! The essence was that after AYGC we can still have them as mentors and keep learning from them. So with AYGC you will never walk alone on this pursuit of leadership.
Networking and Exchanges
So, like I said in my earlier post, “…I watched with awe a passion so strong for an Africa that works, take the better part of our differences”.
I guess seeing all the confidence placed in us, work was easy. Most of the issues we had to discuss were common on the continent. So brainstorming times was really we having a grip on the issues at our various home countries. (The moments of hearing from the horse’s own mouth and not from TV was intriguing and satisfying, we heard the narratives better, you know) Altogether these gave us a great approach to communicating ideas. And when we had to debate out these ideas, we were not biased, we were objective. We punched holes where we needed to, and then with comments and recommendations, contributed to each other’s work for better results.
Even with the seeming diversity we found ways to engage and get committee work done. As such discussions did not end at committee sessions. Rather it became the beginning of even more meaningful and impactful ones that will continue later after the convergence.
I remember when I got back home, I told a friend who had asked about my experience that at AYGC it was not about trying to ‘match up’ to a certain standard. Rather, the atmosphere was conducive. People were open for discussions that will lead to collaborations, because they were thinking of the continent, not themselves. You only had to be able to articulate an idea and demonstrate your desire to see a change.
Ultimately this aspect of the 4 – tier grooming was realized as a result of the course of events above. Collaborating for impact came to us easily, having worked out our differences and language issues from committee work all the way to GA.
Now GA is over and motions of the various committees have been passed into resolutions. Theseresolutions will be passed to the AU youth desk, policy makers, corporate leaders etc.
Yet even more, minds have been equipped with great lessons for community impact. A significant number of youth are in a better position now to contribute to developing this continent, at the various communities they find themselves as I put it, in their own small ways.
And for me this is the success of the convergence.
The AYGC leadership grooming as I experienced it, is a deliberate and intentional one; one that is built into the events and activities at the convergence.
Simply and yet effectively, I saw the four-tier mandate of AYGC unfold at convergence grounds. Having been entrusted with roles and given a platform to demonstrate our contributions to the continent, networking among youth and the readiness to impact communities followed without effort.
The beautiful thing in all of this is the level of bonding and togertherness delegates displayed. We developed tolerance, regard, and respect for one another. That became our CULTURE. Our IDENTITY was in finding solutions to the challenges plaguing our continent.
I hope you see what I see. That was UBUNTU at play: ‘I exist because you exist‘; our common interests was all that mattered.
Without that, the purpose of the AYGC would not have become a reality.
And so as one Alumnus put it a few days after the convergence I quote ‘if it was done at AYGC then it can be done anywhere in Africa.’(Ibrahim H. Bancie)
Initiated and convened by Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF) and accredited with UN ECOSOC Special Consultative Status, the African Youth and Governance Conference (AYGC) since 2009 is the convergence of a 4-tier leadership grooming program for African and Diaspora youth (Canada, USA, Europe, Caribbean); (a) leadership grooming (b) cascade of mentorship (c) community impact and (d) networking & exchanges. This year it was held in Ghana at the Hillview guest centre Abokobi Accra, under the theme ‘Partnerships for Youth Development: Key to Building Africa beyond Aid.’ Find more about the AYGC at http://aygconvergence.org/
Post by Margaret Blankson
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