By Lamin Cham
‘’It is better to prepare a youth who has long future ahead of her, than to repair an adult who has fallen along the way,’’ a group discussion on leadership and innovation was told at the Benin Youth Innovation Workshop/fair in Cotonou.
Mordecai Shuman, the South African head of the Organization of African Youth, says while people often think only of political leaders, many young people could play important leadership roles. Shuman says skills can be taught to the youth, “and that means building a cycle that would lead to a brighter future’’.
Abigail Simmons, an American student from the Phelps Stokes programme in the United Sates, says her organization is helping African women immigrants and refugees to quickly settle in America, by deflecting culture shock and the loss of identity through the African Newcomers Orientation programme.
“Basically we help locate the needs of those arriving in America, link them to college and high school students interested in knowing other cultures and, through this interaction, both sides benefit from experiences of life other countries. The impact on the youth in Washington DC is so profound that we are now planning to notch up partnerships with other bodies with similar goals too.’’
Innovations by the youth in the DRC have led to a business boom for youth in the state: “There is always an opportunity out there,” says a DRC delegate, “and we are hoping to use this forum to tap into those opportunities.”
The Benin minister of sport, Didier Aplogan Djibode, attended part of the session and some of the youth were very open with their ideas on how the state’s policies should change. Djibode told the young delegates that now was time in their lives to build the foundation for their future.