By Rawand Boussama, Afrika Youth Movement
The day I arrived to Ghana, I had the opportunity to network with people from Greece, Sudan and Nigeria. One of the participants, after knowing that I came from Tunisia, asked me whether I identify as African or not since North Africa is always related to the Middle East than to the rest of Africa. I responded, “I am an African". The last day, I talked to him again and told him: “After my stay in Accra, I have truly found my African identity, and now, in all self-confidence, I can tell you that I belong to this continent that I carry in my heart and soul”.
During the four days of the Afrika Youth Movement (AYM) retreat in Ghana, I had the chance to meet people from 14 different countries. I felt in each workshop or panel that I had travelled to a different African country. I was astonished by the quality of the interventions of AYM members. We dug deeper into the issues of African youth and the solutions in order to implement our mission and achieve our vision as a movement aiming for transforming this continent.
The experience was very inspirational and motivating and had an impact on me both personally and professionally. Knowing that it was my first trip out of Tunisia, the experience was so exciting, unique and full of learning and sharing. I have learnt how to be responsible for myself, to articulate my views especially because I was representing my country and the whole of North Africa. It was my duty to give an image about our culture, our situation and our history.
The five days of the AYM retreat and forum were full of new knowledge for me. It was the first time I heard people discussing Pan-Africanism and understanding its history and how we are redefining it. The first day, we focused on team building, ground rules and networking while the second day, we dug deeper into the roadmap, strategy and structure of AYM Hubs across the continent. Through group work and art of hosting methods, we developed a code of conduct, governance structure and working methods of the hubs and national action plans.
On the third day, we were divided into committees; Education, Agriculture, Gender Equality, Health, and Peace and security where we discussed future plans and campaigns. The highlight of the that day was the contribution of the respected militant Professor Zaya Yeebo, who explained Pan-Africanism and its relevance to our generation, and motivated us to be more active Africans, which opened the space for several inspirational discussions about challenges and personal experiences in different countries. On the forum day, we discussed the role of African youth in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union Agenda 2063.
I decided, when I come back to Tunisia, to firstly meet with the AYM Tunisian team and deliver a workshop summarizing all that I learned about the movement, Pan-Africanism and the SDGs. Furthermore, we developed our action plan as an AYM Hub. We decided to focus on three issues: education, women’s right and racism. For education, we seek to make a difference through supporting and changing the mind-set of youth dropping out of school. When it comes to women’s rights, I believe that there’s a lot that can be done but we are aiming first to host a conference about violence against women and opening of civic space to young feminist activists and women in general as actors in civil society. Last but not least, on racism, we decided to hold movie screenings as a way of raising awareness. After launching the hub in a few weeks, we shall start implementing our action plan. My stay in Accra has encouraged me to set the standards high and host a global launch of the hub by engaging different actors and stakeholders.
Rawand Boussama is the Tunisia Hub Leader for Afrika Youth Movement, a CIVICUS Voting Member and part of the CIVICUS Youth Working Group. Follow Rawand at @rawand.boussama