BUILDING A POWERFUL AND MODERN AFRICA

Guest Post : Written by Jacinta Oghogho Odubanjo – Broadcast Journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria 

International cooperation is critical to world peace and development. It offers opportunities for dialogues on issues of global concern like migration, trade, conflicts, technology and laws governing the international system. It is this crucial aspect of relations that defines the objectives of the Crans Montana Forum.

The Forum since 1986 has been in the vanguard of a “more humane world”. It organizes annual events involving decision-makers the world over to discuss political, economic and social occurrences requiring attention. Being a Non-Governmental International Organization, the Crans Montana Forum promotes good practices that shape the future of the world.

Recently, Dakhla in the disputed territory of South Sahara, controlled by Morocco, hosted the Crans Montana Forum on Africa and South-South Cooperation. The conference of 14-17 March 2019 was a unique opportunity for businesses, organizations, and governments to network and strengthen their relations. The forum brought together over 1000 Africans to debate issues that are of concern to the continent with the theme “Building a Powerful and Modern Africa Dedicated to its Youth”.

This edition of the Forum kicked off with the opening message of the King Mohammed VI of Morocco, read by the president of the Dakhla-Qued Eddahab Region, Mr. Yanja El Khattat. The king wants youths to be encouraged, trained and empowered to turn today’s economic potential to tomorrow’s reality. His message set the tone for discussions on security, health, the digital revolution, leadership, entrepreneurship, and economic cooperation with emphasis on the role of youths and women.

DAKHLA-AFRICA celebrated African Youth and ensured their participation in the various debates as they were officially welcomed in the 2019 class of the New Leaders for Tomorrow.

The New Leaders for Tomorrow are innovative and influential. In a panel discussion on Youth Entrepreneurship and Women’s Leadership in Africa, a 35-year-old youth activist, entrepreneur, and musician, Vanessa Mdee said education should be given to both boys and girls to enable them to reach their full potentials. Speaking at the forum, President, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Bello Bala Shagari said African youths should abhor violence and embrace technology for smart solutions to their challenges.

Shagari’s call stems from the fact that technology has transformed the workings of world systems. People are more informed with the use of technology today compared to the past. With a smartphone one easily accesses information, communicates and educates. This assertion was buttressed in the presentation of the Director General of the Royal Institute of Strategic Studies, Toufik Mouline who stressed the need for digitization to tackle challenges facing Africa. He said digitization would open doors of opportunities for education, finance, energy, mobility, health, and agriculture.

By entrepreneurship, for example, young leaders show their professional competence and leadership experience. Bringing them from emerging African states to chat a sustainable future for the continent is such that puts the future in the hands of leaders capable of taking Africa to the summit of development. It is this hope that made my experience at the summit exciting. Having to be in the midst of people of different backgrounds, displaying the rich cultures of Africa, gave one a sense of belonging and confidence. It was also a reminder of the role of women in development.

The first lady of the Republic of Guinea, Mrs. Hadja Conde Djene Kaba, a special guest of the African Women’s Forum session dedicated to youth entrepreneurship and women leadership, said everything goes smoothly with women when they are trusted. She gave an example of African women adhering to the terms of loan repayments as a measure of trust and reliability. Some African women are beneficiaries of support loans from financial institutions which they pay back as and when due. By this, Hadja Conde calls for policies that ensure that the needs of women in African societies are catered for.

The First Lady of Gambia Mrs. Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow spoke in the same line when she called for the provision of enabling environment that caters to the empowerment of youths and women.

In her speech, the Vice President of Liberia Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor covers the relevance of South-South cooperation. Through the South-South Cooperation developing countries exchange resources, technology and knowledge to find solutions to common development challenges. With this aim in mind, the kingdom of Morocco brought together African countries to discuss issues affecting them and also providing solutions to move African nations out of poverty. Mrs. Taylor is however hopeful that innovation, inclusion and economic empowerment will provide space for women and youths to strive in business and politics.

In his remark, the founder of Crans Montana Jean-Paul Carteron, a believer in the abilities of women explained that the Pan Africa women network is an agenda of hope and positivity saying the Africa woman is the true key to the evolution of African societies and integration of the world.

An important side function of DAKHLA-AFRICA is the “Declaration of Dakhla”, initiated by Anass Doukkali, Minister of Health of Morocco, with the support of African Ministers attending the Forum. The declaration is dedicated to Universal Health Coverage and Health Security in Africa. It proposes a reform of the African health system include effective access to quality health services for at least 75% of the population and a reduction in maternal and infant mortality. It also recommends the establishment of an integrated and reactive African epidemiological vigilance system.

Health is wealth, the reason youth and women development is essential to the revival of the African continent. As the programmes of the forum continue to elicit global coverage, one is encouraged to live the dream of a new Africa propelled by transformative leadership. This new Africa is a function of the power of the youths of today to rise up to expectation.

To keep hope alive and encourage women and youths, the Crans Montana Forum came to an end by honoring youths and women with awards, celebrating them for their contributions to their societies.

As the organizers prepare for the next session of the Crans Montana forum holding in Geneva from 26 to 29 June 2019, with focus on restoring security and trust among nations, what is evident is the role of the March forum in addressing the main challenges facing the works of youth organizations, suggesting the most efficient models and tools to boost the participation of youth in the fight against violent extremism as well as working out processes of strengthening the role of youth organizations in conflict management. This involves exploring ways to involve young people fully and effectively in decision-making.

From my participation, I have no doubt that the gathering succeeded in strengthening the solidarity of African states as well as boosting the economic, social and environmental development of the continent. The forum emboldened Africa’s relationships with other countries notably in the framework of the South-South Cooperation.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Broadcast Journalist, Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted, Nigeria

Photo Hanging on the Wall in front of the Principal’s office at Pacelli School for the Blind & Partially Sighted.

Students appear in clean and neat purple uniform, black Cortina shoes, white socks with a blue line at the tip. It is the beginning of another school session; students laughed and chatted happily with their schoolmates whom they haven’t seen for almost two months because of the long holidays. Soon they filed up in a row of two on a pavement and faced the beautiful and neatly mowed lawn. A few students stepped forward carrying drums and sticks and begin to beat it as their fellow students raised a song of praise. Voices of these visually impaired and partially sighted children flowed towards new parents waiting with their sons and daughters to be checked in for the new school term.

I listened to their beautiful voices and somewhere deep within my heart I was glad that they have the opportunity to be educated, empowered and made ready for a life of independence at Pacelli School for the blind. It was an emotional experience for me as well, as I watched newly admitted students hold onto their parents unsure of what laid ahead for them in their new school. Some of these parents wrapped their hands around their chests with mixed emotions. In their eyes and facial expression, they are relieved that finally, their wards can now get a quality education in a place that will cater to their unique need. However, they worry about leaving their children in the care of the school administration and managers. Mostly I saw hope in spite of the uncertainty of what the future holds.

Pacelli School for the blind is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos state and it’s been run by Sisters. The 56years old school which was established on the 16th of June 1962 provides elementary school education and 1year rehabilitation services for older visually impaired or partially sighted children in secondary school. This is to equip them with coping skills in school and life.

It is a non-discriminatory school which admits children from both Muslim and Christian homes. Pacelli school for the blind and partially sighted is also a Non-paying institution that offers free education, accommodation, feeding(3 times daily), free educational materials, and school uniforms. The school is sustained by donations in kind and cash from organizations, religious institutions, individuals and parents who go the extra mile by giving and also helping to raise funds from their friends and sphere of influence.

Support a visually impaired child today by donating whatever you can to Pacelli School for the blind and partially sighted.

My team and I at Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative are doing our part by facilitating and sponsoring the enrollment of a visually impaired boy in the school.

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As we expand our educational support program and raise more funds we hope to donate to enabling more visually impaired children to attend Pacelli School for the blind.

There is ability in disability with an enabling environment.

Join us in helping the work at Pacelli to go on for many more years to come. You can visit the school and donate in cash and kind. If you are far away or across the world, You can call 08145710797/ 07016008848 or send fund support to First Bank, Nigeria – 2004948780 

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

The Unique Role of Women in Youth Development/Nation Building

Sonya Carson was a single mum who stopped attending school at grade three before she could read and write. She struggled with depression and worked so hard to raise her two sons Benjamin and Curtis. Even though Sonya was an illiterate, she devised a plan to get her sons to pay attention to reading and studying hard. Sonya refused to be a victim of her circumstances and pushed her sons to succeed in life. By this singular act she gave the world the renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who successfully operated on and separated conjoined twins joined at the back of the head. Ben Carson is currently serving his country as the United states Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Mothers are life molders and nation builders.

The word, “busy” is synonymous to modern day life. Efforts to make ends meet and the rat race of achieving an acceptable social status standard has eroded family happy times and relationships. Modern technology although with its numerous benefits to human life and businesses comes with its own disadvantages and distractions. The younger generation is fascinated by the new technological gadgets and social media; many spend precious hours engaging in unprofitable conversations with no one to guide and mentor them appropriately. Fathers and mothers are busy trying to keep their families afloat in the midst of new economic challenges of the 21st century.

Gone are the days when our mothers were at home or worked at jobs that enabled them to be at home when children close from school. Mothers were able to monitor the activities of their children and guide or discipline as appropriate. No wonder then that many of us formed a close relationship with our moms; no wonder that so many poems and songs have been written to eulogize the many sacrifices of mothers as they played a vital role in molding children who become responsible adults to society. Times have changed and we, mothers are so busy that we can barely catch our breath in the numerous challenges that life throws at us. How do we even begin to turn the tide of things around?

A group of women decided to create time to come away from their busy schedule to learn, inspire and remind one another about what was most important– empowering each other and yet able to raise young people who become responsible and dependable adults to their families and society. The National Biennial Conference of Pastors wives a yearly gathering organized by Foursquare Gospel church in her 2018 edition brought together women from different works of life and circle in society. This year’s theme is tagged, “Women Of Wisdom”. In attendance were the wife of Ogun State governor represented by Mrs Omolola Osota and Mrs. Folakemi Edun; the State Director National Orientation Agency, Oyo Directorate, Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu; Wife of the General overseer, Foursquare gospel church, Rev. Mrs Olubisi Meduoye and other ministers and women. 

Representatives of wife of Ogun state governor – Mrs Folakemi Edun & Mrs Omolola Osita; State Director NOA – Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu

As the team who accompanied the keynote speaker, Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu, State Director, National Orientation Agency, Oyo Directorate drove through the camp ground of the Foursquare Gospel Church situated along Lagos-Ibadan express way, there was something serene about the environment.

Team of the Oyo State Director, NOA sets out for the Women of Wisdom Conference.

A cluster of housing units lined up the road blending with nature as trees and lush green grass surrounded the environment. It is the kind of place you would want to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city; somewhere to clear your head, rest and regain your energy to face life again. Indeed it was an air of excitement in the hall as women relaxed and were charged by various speakers.

Women at the conference

Mrs Dolapo Dosunmu in her presentation talked about the uniqueness of women’s role in Youth Development and nation building. Her introduction paints an apt picture of this:

“Women play significant roles in our society from birth till the end of their lives. The main responsibility of a woman is to preserve the human race. As a mother, her position is unique. She brings up the children with extreme care. The first school of a child is the lap of his/her mother. It is in recognition of the vital role of a mother in the upbringing of a child that Napoleon said, “Give me good mothers and I will give you a good nation”. Similarly, Brigham young said, “If you educate a man, you educate one person; if you educate a woman, you educate a nation”. No doubt, the progress of a nation depends largely upon the way mothers raise their children”.

Sharing from her experience working with youths, she talked about young people who couldn’t be bordered to show up to take up empowerment opportunities government offered to unemployed youths. Mrs Dosunmu and her team in efforts to enroll these young persons in the N-Power program, placed several calls to many young people who had been selected but refused to fulfill the requirement of concluding the registration with her agency. It seemed like we are grooming youths with “entitlement mentality” and give no serious thought and time to one of the rules of succeeding in life which is simply  to, “show up and be on time”! Mrs Dosunmu passionately appealed to women present at the meeting to monitor and pay attention to ensuring that their wards become young men and women who are willing to learn and take a chance with opportunities that life brings their way.

Rev. Mrs Olubisi Meduoye & ministers appreciates Guest speaker – Mrs Dosunmu after delivering her presentation.

Key Points to note from her address:

  • Build a mother-child friendly relationship with your child.
  • Be a role model – watch how you live and behave as children naturally pick up on their parent’s character traits and this eventually shapes their entire lifestyle.
  • Teach your kids to do the right thing regardless of what other people may be doing.
  • Do not indulge or pamper your children; discipline when necessary.
  • Find time for your children regardless of your tight schedule.
  • Do your best to provide basic needs of your children even if your husband is incapacitated, not economically viable or even a deviant who dodges his responsibilities. In due season you will reap the reward.
  • The youth face a myriad of challenges which can best be overcome when adults create time to exchange of opinions. Youths have a lot of issues they want to discuss with adults and when they get a listening ear, they open up and learn from the adult’s wealth of experience.

In spite of the challenge of the 21st century as mothers we must go back to creating time for our kids and raise them to become the kind of adults we can be proud of in future.

Remember that after acquiring all the money and fame, you eventually get the future you invested in or did not invest in. Build relationships and not just career successes.

Ben Carson had this to say about his mum, Sonya Carson when she passed away in 2017:

“She was one of God’s greatest blessings to me, and it was her foresight and discernment that pushed me to reach my dreams”.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com