Nkulanga Enock, MINDS Alumnus – Uganda
Organisation: LeadMinds Africa www.leadmindsafrica.org
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1) Why is it important to have think tanks such as MINDS driving the discourse on leadership, governance, political accountability, roles that the continent’s youth can and should be playing to inform and drive socio-economic and political change in Africa?
The greatest challenge Africa faces isn’t lack of natural resources, economic or political wars or lack of leaders, but rather perception. Perception is as important as the confidence and pride it instills in the citizens, especially those that are proud of their nations or the continent. For Africa, it is different, many Africans are not proud of their continent. They continue to perceive it as cursed and with less economic opportunities, as well as a place where dreams cannot come true. Having young people making up 80% of the continent’s populace, where most of them are seeking answers to their life challenges outside the continent in developed countries remains is a big problem that qualifies the need for think tanks like MINDS.
Young people especially need to be brought together to interrogate pressing issues on the African continent and design a pathway collaboratively to create the Africa they not only want to live in, but thrive in. African leaders too need to be reminded that staying in power for longer isn’t the best solution to the continent’s challenges but rather innovative, dynamic, energetic young leaders who are passionate, exposed and aware of the continent’s challenges are able take up the mantle of leadership and build a prosperous integrated and connected continent that is based on inclusive and equitable models of economic growth. We need think tanks like MINDS that provide platforms that create “Africanness” in young people and other stakeholders. That is what Africa needs now and in the future.
- How did your engagement with MINDS change your views, approach, opportunity to become more engaged and involved?
The first time I attended a youth leader’s gathering organised by MINDS was in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania where 100 young emerging leaders were selected from 45 countries across Africa. We met in one place and I was challenged by other young leaders selected from different countries who were involved in many projects back home. I listened and began developing ideas, as well as approaches on how to move forward. I was inspired to remain committed to Africa’s possibilities. Dr. Nkosana Moyo reminded us of our great responsibility-being the generation responsible for building the Africa we want. And that we needed to think deeply about whether we were ready to take on the mantle of leadership or if we would be the same leaders staying longer in power and promoting corruption. His insights throughout the gathering were rich with thought provoking and inspiring thoughts.
I began reflecting on how to use my life in the next 5 or 10 years and that is when I reconnected with an idea that I have had since University. Since then, I have come to believe that a better Africa won’t be built by someone else from afar, but everything begins with me.
- What have you done since engaging with MINDS?
I have founded LeadMinds Africa www.leadmindsafrica.org a non-profit organisation whose mission is to Engage, Equip and Inspire young emerging leaders to build, champion and drive Africa ahead. Our vision at LeadMinds Africa is a prosperous continent with Accountable leadership. We believe that Africa needs accountable leaders now more than ever, because a highly competitive continent on a global scale is needed more than before.
I have also remained committed to my advocacy and campaigning work as a Global Youth Ambassador at TheirWorld (A global initiative advocating and campaigning for children’s rights to education globally). I have continued to speak in schools and communities to inspire students and community members especially parents to stay in school and invest in their children’s futures respectively because education is the most powerful tool if we are to build a competitive and prosperous continent. Because of this commitment, I was selected by the Obama Foundation, to serve as one of the Obama Leaders in Africa. I will be joining other African youth leaders in Johannesburg for 5 days and then return home from where I will continue with mentorship for a year. MINDS opened many doors – as it inspired my commitment to Africa.
- How can we (individually, as countries and the continent) do more, do better and do differently? And how are you going to be involved?
The best way we can do more, do better and do differently is to be aware and know our continent. Young people in Africa don’t know their continent and so they tend to judge or use what is happening in their own communities to draw conclusions about Africa, yet it is not fair. As individuals who know what Africa is and its potential as well as believe in its future, we need to use the time we have got to cultivate the right perspective, spirit and know-how in other people.
Our country leaders need to be aware of the needs of the populace and so invest highly without excuses in what is needed to drive the country’s present and future. Some of the countries on the continent are small economies and therefore need to invest in their human resources, especially in the areas of political accountability and governance and educating young people to become informed leaders who are aware and can expand socio-political opportunities.
As a continent, we need to stay connected, integrated and collaborate for the better. Institutions like the African Union should do more to hold leaders accountable as well as propel the building of a highly competitive and inclusive continent.