It’s a cool night in Tamale, Ghana on Wednesday 29 October 2015 and the time is 21:30hrs, loud cheers are heard rumbling from the Global Platform Ghana, as youths scream “ We Need it! We need it” The noise increases every second and its now mixed with clapping of hands “Activista – We need it! Activista – We need it!” as inaugural Campaign course 2015 participants drawn from West Africa (Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal) and Burundi in East Africa demand the establishment of Activista Ghana after listening to motivating presentations made by Nigeria, Senegal on fantastic work in fighting poverty and inequalities and also background information on the role of Global Platforms playing the hub for all Activistas in ActionAid Federation family.
Margaret Osei a member of Young Urban Women project with ActionAid Ghana and also a Campaign course participant and was joyful to express her desire to have in Activista in Ghana she exclaimed “ It is a very noble idea, as it will help us to join hands and fight oppressive norms in communities and encourage more young women to be active in civic engagement” she continued “ I really want Activista Ghana because it will invigorate youths to be engaged in decision making, it will provide us with a space to organize, share ideas on how to campaign and change people`s lives “
Abdulai Mohammed Shani a Training of Trainers graduate with the Global Platform Ghana added “ Activista will be very important to us, since we do not have a vibrant and more visible youth network in all parts of Ghana, it will make our voices heard and make positive change in communities”
Zakaria Hasfa Yurizaa a Young Urban Women based in Tamale weighed in by saying “ We need Activista because we also want to contribute in having a functioning young women and young men`s movement like other countries represented here in the course and also so that my fellow youths in Ghana can create networks and participate in other regional and international programmes organized by Activista and learn new things that can help develop my country”
According to media reports, speaking at the Young Professional and Youth Coalitions (YPYC) on Friday 23 October 2015 , the Vice President of Ghana, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said the government of Ghana has instituted structures, schemes and interventions not only to transform but also to empower youths for nation building. Conversely the call for setting of Activista Ghana resonates well with the vice president statement as the network will augument government efforts to empower the youth and prepare them to contribute positively towards nation building.
This was a night set aside from the Campaign Course 2015 for course participants to get learn from experiences sharing by Activista members present in the training. The night was dubbed “Activista night” and was also meant to unpack what Activista is and to entice those who are interested in joining it to do so. It was explicitly explained that Activista is a global youth network involving more than 250 ActionAid partners seeking to challenge power holders, combat inequalities and end poverty within communities. It is comprised of ActionAid country programmes, local and national youth organizations, movements and partners. It involves all youths regardless of their economic status who are keen to bring and promote social change. It targets youths from Action Aid Federation Local Rights Programmes and has mobilized thousands of volunteers in more than 25 countries.
The evening was set ablaze by exciting presentations that demonstrated the individual and collective effort of young people who have done amazing work that has brought about significant changes within communities.
First to take to the podium was Activista Senegal. Saliou Balde from Senegal gave an inspirational testimony when he shared how he managed to stage a protest by blocking the main road that passes by the community to demand construction of a school after he realized that children were walking over 5 kilometers to access a nearby school. “ After I realized that the children were suffering by walking a long distance of over 5 kilometers to get to a nearest school, I decided to organize children and went and blocked the main road that services haulage trucks across West Africa as a way to show our pain and suffering and also to make the government act on children`s suffering . We stopped traffic flow and caused chaos. The blockade resulted the government constructing one classroom block and now as we speak children are attending school in their school” he narrated.
The Nigerian Activista also made mouthwatering presentation; one of their members gave an account on how they contributed in the demand of release of Chibok girls that were captured by Boko Haram militants. The representative said they have established many cell groups of Activistas in various communities in Nigeria, and are involved in tax justice campaign, and also organized inspirational workshops for youths. John Osiroko Atta a Cell Coordinator for Activista in Benue State, Nigeria who is also a Campaign Course participant emphasized the need for Activista Ghana and said “ Youths in Ghana must urgently establish Activista as it will help us in West Africa to connect, build alliances around local, regional and global issues affecting us youths”
A total of fourteen ( 14 ) young people currently taking part in the Campaign Course 2015 have signed up to join Activista. The ActionAid Ghana family is still making in-house consultations to develop a youth network that will be a vehicle to face challenges of youth living in poverty. ActionAid Ghana´s Mission Objective 3 in the Country Strategy Paper V partly seeks to Enhance Capacity of Young People to Drive Their Development Priorities. The Key Result Area in the objective targets “To mobilize and support 22 000 youth to take purposeful and sustained action as leaders in their own right to shape a more democratic nation that protects, respects, and fulfills the rights of the people living in poverty”.
By Michael Ndiweni
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