Rise, Reclaim Your Continent, Young Africans Told on the Day of the African Child

Agenda of the June 16 webinar organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)/ Credit: Courtesy Photo

On the annual event of the International Day of the African Child (DAC), young people across the continent have been challenged to take up leadership roles and reclaim their position in global socio-political and economic space. 

In a Wednesday, June 16 webinar organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), an ecumenical fellowship with a presence in more than 40 African countries, a call was made to young people in Africa to embark on the journey of transforming the continent as Africa’s population continues to rise.

In the Keynote speech, Kenyan law professor and scholar Patrick Loch Otenio (PLO) Lumumba cautioned the youth in Africa against yielding to frustrations that they have been subjected to by leaders who have failed to empower them economically. 

“Young people across the continent have been subjected to immense frustrations because of what is taking place in many countries. African youth today have had to deal with problems ranging from joblessness, economic adversities to peace instability,” says the law professor, citing the prevailing insecurity situation in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and countries in the Sahel region. 


The Kenyan professor notes that leaders have not given young people, who have the capacity to turn around the situation in most troubled countries, a chance. He advises the youth to prove their ability, doing all they can to turn around situations and not give in to despair and “run from home.” 

“Every year, frustrated by the situation back at home, thousands of youth leave their countries to other foreign nations to look for a better life. A good number of them take to dangerous journeys like crossing the Sahara Desert or the Mediterranean Sea just to run from home,” said Prof. PLO giving statistics that despite Zimbabwe’s former economic success, nearly 4 million of its young people have so far moved out of the country due to the failing economy. 

He further faulted leaders who have mobilized young people in Africa into ethnic groupings that are funded by corrupt schemes, a practice that renders the youth on the continent powerless.

There is however hope, Prof. PLO said, making reference to countries where their young people decide to face the problem afflicting them by being focused. 

“Societies realize full potential when their young population remain focused on the face of challenges. Civil rights movements of yester years in today’s successful economies were triggered by young people who stayed put and fought for their space in the society,” said the former CEO for Kenya School of Law, alluding to civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. 

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He criticized the church in Africa for failing to live up to her purpose through “silent in the face of injustice” and advised church leaders on the continent not to abandon their prophetic role.

“The church has lost its place in the fight for our redemption as a continent. Today’s church has remained silent in the face of injustice meted against Africans by foreign forces. The silence of the church is so eloquent,” he said. 

Successful human and civil right activists in today’s world-class economies were church leaders who did not sit back and watch people being oppressed, the Pan Africanist said.

On science and technology, Prof. PLO challenged young people on the continent to rise up and invest their time in ground-breaking research projects that can guarantee their self-reliance. 


“If we can call our leaders into the task of empowering our science and technology sector, we will avoid situations where we have to run ‘begging’ for vaccines from other continents. COVID-19 has taught us a lot and how being self-reliant can salvage us,” he said. 

The Kenyan Prof. went on to question the irony of young Africans struggling to leave the continent that is attracting people from other continents.  

“Today along the streets, we see many young people from around the world-over who have decided to settle in Africa and study or even invest here. What is it that is visible to people from those countries and cannot be seen by our young people?” posed the scholar warning of future events that might lead to what happened during the colonial era. 

He explained, “Our boundaries were drawn by people who are not in any way part of our daily success story today. The borders we now have should not make us think we are different from each other. They should just serve as administrative divisions.”

“It is sad to see Africans attacking each other as if we are different from each other,” Prof. PLO says, making reference to the spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africa

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For Africa to achieve agenda 2063, a set blueprint to transform Africa to a powerhouse, the law professor said, there needs to be coordination and maximum exploitation of natural resources. 

“For us to reach a point where we will be using our raw materials to produce our own finished products, young people must start as early as now researching industrialization,” he said.

During the June 16 virtual session, the leadership of AACC acknowledged that it is time African youth rose beyond their shortcomings and defended their countries. 

“On this day of the African child when we also remember young people who have paid the ultimate price in the pursuit of self-governance, we urge young people across the continent to work hard and deliver Africa in their respect,” said AACC Director of programs, Rev. Lesmore Ezekiel in his closing remarks.

Rev. Lesmore added, “The church will offer prayers for energy and wisdom.”