Why youth should embrace Pan Africanism

There is very limited talk of Pan Africanism among the youth in this generation since the most they hear of it is during history classes. Names of great African leaders like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana are spoken of, depicted as the African legends that so valiantly fought for the independence of not only their countries but also encouraged other African countries to follow suit.

These leaders envisioned an Africa that was united and would grow stronger together, it is somewhat unfortunate that not so long afterwards, this great dream of theirs was long forgotten. Post-colonial Africa became characterised by war, corruption, disease and poverty creating an extremely hopeless and impoverished population simply due to poor leadership. The good news is that despite the setbacks, Africa continued to grow and is now the world’s second fastest growing economy.

This achievement also in one way or the other still rotates around leadership.

Statistics show that Africa is home to over 200 million youth and on many occasions youth have been referred to as the custodians of the future and the leaders of tomorrow. However, not many young people in this generation fully apprehend the weight of the challenge we’ve been charged with. The official launch of the Rwandan chapter of the Pan African movement last week makes one wonder what the role of the youth is as far as this movement is concerned.

With technology allowing us access to news throughout the day, we are able to remain informed about what is happening all round us at a given time. Meaning we are well aware of the issues that plague our beautiful motherland most of which are a result of poor leadership and yet remain detached. We feel like the problems that affect our neighbouring countries have very little to do with us, a good example here being the current crisis in Burundi. 

Sadly we fail to realize that conflicts such as these affect us in one way or the other. This then should encourage us to cultivate in ourselves the right leadership skills which include integrity and a genuine love for service and not power. It is important to note that being a leader and acquiring great skills doesn’t require you to be in a government position but even in the private industry these skills come in handy.

The spirit of Pan Africanism was essentially centered on the unity of all the African states that would basically have each other’s backs in terms of social, economic and political progress. With several other examples of exceptional leadership in the world today, Rwanda has stood out as one of the African countries that have achieved tremendously in terms of development due to great leadership. 

The most interesting thing I’ve come to learn about this leadership is their understanding that growth alone, is no growth at all. It is therefore suffice to say that these men and women understand what pan Africanism truly means and have taken ownership of their motherland.

As African youth that will soon have the baton of leadership handed down to us, it is our duty to take ownership of our continent, solve our problems and not just stand aside and watch on as spectators do at a game. 

Owning up to these problems can help us realize we share a common destiny and that our futures are intertwined. We shouldn’t only own up to the problems alone but the achievements too. 

Nelson Mandela an African hero once said that “every now and then, a generation is called to be great. You should be that generation.” As Rwandan youth, privileged enough to grow up in an era characterized by great leadership, it is our responsibility to take on this challenge and uphold the standard set by our leaders who have so wonderfully embraced the true essence of patriotism.

The author is a student at University of Rwanda, College of Science and Technology