Let me start this short address by thanking the African Union, and all those working on its behalf, for making this great occasion possible. It is indeed a very great privilege to be part of such an important development in Africa which is appropriately designed to, in the word of the organizers, “Channel youth motivation, energy and creativity towards political, social and economic renewal”.

This is the first ever Africa Youth Day celebration, organized by the AU-ECOSOCC Youth Stakeholders Forum, to hold in Nigeria.  Considering eighteen to fifty years to constitute the youth age bracket, Nigeria is the country to beat in Africa. This is because Nigeria is not only the most populous country in Africa it is also, according to some estimates, the country with the largest percentage of youth-averaging to about 64% of a total population of about one hundred and forty million people. We are thus talking of population averaging a little over eighty million people. The importance of investing in the creative, mobilisational and driving powers of our youth cannot be overemphasized, and this greatly underscores the importance of this very topical event which is clearly long overdue but, as the saying goes, it is always “better late than never”.

Africa Youth Day is a call to African Youth to recognize the importance of bringing their social bonds, and characteristics, to serve the causes of Africa’s development. This can only be done through sustained struggle that ought to ensure the unity of the continent in the pursuit of its total and complete independence as the basis for its own development, as well as its contribution to the march of humanity to freedom, dignified and peaceful coexistence.

Youth: the Vanguard of Africas Struggle for Freedom and Development

The message to all African youth today is that despite the fact that Africa is faced with monumental problems it needs to be recognized that such problems can only persist, and remain monumental, because they are yet to be confronted by the strategic, combined and coordinated action of the youth of Africa in the pursuit of its ever-standing goals of unity, liberation and development. The youth of Africa therefore need to be the champions, implementors and dependers of the visions of the founding fathers of Africa’s struggles for racial equality, national independence and regional integration.

For Africa’s youth to achieve this noble objective and vision they must learn from, and be dedicated to, the exemplary achievements of the founding fathers of Africa’s struggles against slavery, racism colonialism and neo-colonialism through phenomenal struggles as the continuation of PanAfricanism and African nationalist movements.

Names like W.E. B. Du Bois, Rev. E. W Blyden, Umar Moukhtar, Kwame Nkrumah, Nnamdi Azikwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Julius Nyere, Muammar Gaddafi, Patric Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Samora Machel, Nelson Mandela, to mention but a few, do not only signify the sacrifices and achievements made in the struggle for the freedom of Africa but also its own relative contributions to the emergence of a new leadership  in the world, committed to freedom, equality and peace for the human ‘race’ in concert with other equally committed leaders from other parts of the world such as Ghandi,  Mao, Nehru, Sukharno, Castro, Ayatullahi Khomeini and many others who stand for the freedom and independence of weaker nations. African youths are called upon to be faithful, to emulate and to build on the exemplary achievements and contributions of the founding fathers of PanAfricanism and African anti-imperial movements. This is what is meant by progressive human and social development.

Africa’s problems of today hinge on, and are defined by, the interaction of three important factors. The first is foreign interventionism designed to promote external control over local resources and policy formulation through the use of local surrogates resulting in various forms of violent conflicts. The second, greatly associated to the preceding observation is the occurrence of a variety of violent socio-political conflicts which take various forms – military coups, political thuggery, foreign covert operations, secessionist movements etc. These have resulted in the escalation of extensive and violent criminal activities in the form of human rights violations as well as related illegal acts of arson, murder, theft, plunder, rape etc. against politically targetted and defenceless groups.

Sordid as such criminal acts are, they have been used to promote access to political power by various interest groups, of both internal and external denominations. Failure to impose the law in Africa tends to serve and promote the increasing acts of corruption, through impunity, resulting from the association of foreign predatory interests with powerful local surrogates that tend to operate above, beyond and outside the law, in defiance of both national sovereignty and constitutionalism in Africa.

It is a well-known fact that only the corrupt political refugees from Africa, with cash to spend and to launder in the banks of Europe and the USA., are usually welcomed in those countries-despite vacuous pledges to so-called human rights, transparency and justice. Similarly, in its international relations, Africa is today without a voice at the international levels since not democratic rights based on votes, dictate decision-making in the UN but rather the right of might of the powerful states that have constituted themselves into the Security Council of the UN dictating on the basis of veto power. Africa and other countries of the world must therefore unite themselves against foreign intervention in the affairs of their countries by powerful and predatory nation states of the world. They must call for global respect for human rights by initiating the struggle for the entrenchment of democracy in the United Nations as the only true basis for the promotion of democracy in our world. Similarly the youth need to be aware of the fact that the promotion of peace in the world in general, and in Africa in particular, cannot be done without addressing foreign armed aggression carried out covertly, or overtly, against the various governments of independent African states by foreign predatory powers.

Finally, the youth at Africa must stand up against corruption which is the principal index of the extent to which Africa is controlled, and fleeced, by the combined forces of its corrupt local officials and powerful foreign interests that operate without any legal, social or moral restrain, control or prohibition.

It is such impunity that tends to both undermine, and defy, national sovereignty, constitutionalism, legality and the rule of law in most African countries despite many expressions of concern to the contrary.

In order to address the problems mentioned above African youth must stand up for the sovereign rights of African states in opposition to all forms, and manner, of foreign intervention on the continent.

African youth must also call for the enthronement of the principles of justice, fairness and democracy in the politics of all African states as well as in the conduct of international affairs, particularly in international organizations like the UNO.

The Youth and the Future of Africa

In respecting, as well as upholding, the legacies of liberation and development struggles that have characterized the evolution of modern African history and societies the youth need to strategise around development principles that are just fair and humane. by standing up against cases of injustice, unfairness and all forms of violations of human dignity and human rights laws. African states and the AU need to be stead fast and consistent in their condemnation of racism in any part of the world as well as in its major institutions and the various countries of the world.

African youth need to organize themselves in order to support the independently formulated policies of African states while resolutely opposing all forms of foreign impositions in the form of policies, or administrative and security personnel, including the establishment of military bases in Africa by foreign powers. African youth need to, on the other hand, champion the independent, legitimate, inclusive and constitutional programmes and national development plans of  African states, as well as programmes of the AU and its subregional organizations, that are designed to promote the independent development and integration of African economies. These must constitute the only legitimate constitutional and democratic objectives of all African peoples; the young and the elderly, men and women and, indeed, the entire population at large.

We end by calling for more of such programmes, by the AU, which bring African youth together and make it possible for them to champion our common objectives-for the sake of Africa and of humanity, today and forever.

Prof. Sule Bello is a member of the Department of History, A.B.U Zaria

And also Director, Centre for Documentation and Historical Research, Arewa House, A.B.U, Kaduna in addition to being The Chairman of African Research and Development Agency, No 269 Tawakali House Maiduguri Road, Daurawa Kano.

Posted on: September 21, 2020Site Admin
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