“I am the hero of Africa” the infamous Idi Amin Dada once described himself. This and many more goofs crown the epic delusions and wrong notions the Black continent and its people are lumbered with. Like a cursed and unwanted child, Africa has many names. To many, the picture of Africa reads a thousand words likened to; hunger, war, famine, deprivation, illiteracy, ignorance, unemployment, disease, AIDS- a concoction the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka might describe as a “Political Jungle” The writer Elspeth Huxley describes Africa as a cruel country, one that will take your heart and grind it into powdered stone without anyone ever minding. I couldn’t agree less. On the contrary the darkest thing about Africa has always been the huge ignorance and misconceptions of this aptly termed cradle of civilization. Candidly, like every habitation in the world, Africa has its own very peculiar problems and the solution to them is the responsibility of not just Africans but of everyone that loves not only life but also human dignity for the place nine hundred million people call home.
Africa’s development and challenges cannot be solved in isolation just as the African adage avers, “when a man’s house is on fire, his neighbor cannot sit and sold his arms because the wind may blow the flames in his direction” Point is what affects Africa directly affects everyone else on the planet. Therefore, it is our moral onus to rise up to the challenges that plagues Africa. The youth organization, Young Entrepreneurs for Africa, YEFA, is one of such groups that have risen to the challenge, after all the youth are the future leaders of the world. It is a non-profit organization that has taken up the clarion call; with the self imposed mantle to enlighten and empower young African professionals (student and graduates) to imbibe an entrepreneurial mind set aimed at starting businesses and investment opportunities in Africa. Its vision (laudable indeed) is to facilitate the sustainable development and transformation of Africa. One might look at it as a tall ambition but true to the African spirit; YEFA akin to the proverbial man with a great ambition, has taken the bull by the horn forgoing his sleep. The organization has highlighted among other things; high level entrepreneurial skills training and development, peer-to-peer networking and partnership, information dissemination between young African graduates and the business world as the way forward in the emancipation of mankind’s “most backward people” from the clutches of what Gordon Brown calls the greatest evils of our time. YEFA’s activities will also include meetings, seminars and brainstorming sessions on policies and blue prints aimed at Africa’s sustainable growth and development. More subtly, YEFA aims to press home the salient point that the sustainable development of Africa will begin with addressing issues such as unemployment, intellectual brain drain and what Chukwumah Soludo (The Nigerian Central bank governor) calls the “The Bleaching Syndrome”
It is fitting then to ask, what is sustainability? What is Sustainable development? Does Africa need sustainable development? How does YEFA aim to address this through its campaign? How can education help solve Africa’s problems? Is sustainability the way forward? Or perhaps could it be the new buzz word (ala Y2K bug) or just another elitist phrase coined out by academics and egg heads basking in the delusion that they are a little smarter than the rest of us without Ph.Ds behind our names?
My judgment tells me YEFA in its inaugural session and dinner scheduled for the 11th of October at TU Delft’s Aula Congress Centre will hopefully answer some of these questions. The programme will begin with an Entrepreneurial Masters skills class aimed at highlighting the Mega Investment opportunities for young African professionals and their future partners in business alike. The event will showcase the entrepreneurial exhibitions of companies investing or hoping to invest in Africa. To grace this historical event will be a set of high profile dignitaries; captains of industry, members of the upper echelon of the Dutch society, business executives of repute, among them the Vice-President of the Bank of America, the UNIDO Director for Strategic partnerships and Resource Mobilization, The Honorable Minister of Science & Technology of Mozambique (who doubles as an alumnus of TU Delft), The World Bank Vice President (Africa Region), The Rector of TU Delft and of course the students of TU Delft. It is our believe that the attendees of this event will add credence to the call to put hands together to proffer more practical solutions to some of the myriad of challenges that are pulling Africa backwards. It is YEFA’s hope and indeed the hope of all Africans that Africa will be transformed from events like these, into a society that is seen as the bastion of hope, peace and progress rather than an embarrassment to all the tenets that make man a dignified being.
It is also important, as Wangari Maathai posits, to nurture any new ideas and initiatives that can make a difference for Africa; and with this YEFA calls on everyone to support this match towards an African renaissance. For only then, can we erase permanently the negative Huxleyan notions and impressions leeching Africa’s progress as we all look forward earnestly to the enthronement of the Africa Nelson Mandela prays will one day be an Africa which is at peace with itself. The youth of Africa and its organizations like YEFA have an impact to play in the future of this Africa, the Madiba speaks optimistically of. Only then will they merit the crown as “true heroes of Africa”.