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Ubuntu: African wisdom for positive change

Together, becoming agents of change for a new Africa

For some time now, there has been a decolonial trend, especially among young Africans. This is demonstrated by the resurgence of the Pan-Africanist movement. According to Amzat Boukari Yabara, historian and author of the book ‘Africa Unité! The movement aims to protect Africa’s interests by making it speak with one voice. There is talk of a revival of this movement, because it existed for a long time, but at one point seemed to have been forgotten.

However, this decolonial movement can be misunderstood by its own protagonists and spectators on all sides. This movement cannot be understood in any way as an anti-Western movement. Rather, it is a humanising project to de-Westernise knowledge, thought, mentality, economics and politics.

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It is a humanising deconstruction of what Césaire called ‘European reductionism’, which he explains in these terms: ‘a system of thought or rather the instinctive tendency of an eminent and prestigious civilisation to abuse its prestige in order to clean up the air around it by abusively reducing the notion of the universal to its own dimensions, in other words to think the universal on the basis of its own postulates and through its own categories‘.

The decolonisation of knowledge, thought, mentality, economics, politics, etc. will lead to cultural and organisational freedom, because denigration, hypocrisy, fraud and paternalism that inhibits all creative energy will no longer reign.

It will bring North and South into the festive square of complementarity, where each can sincerely say to the other: ‘I am because we are’. It is here that Man next to Man will discover all the greatness of his humanity.

This decolonial approach will be brought to fruition by those who embody successful humanity, Ubuntu, with its values of humility, courage and patience.

Here and now, Africa, like the rest of the world, needs well-prepared agents of change, especially in wisdom.

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The project ‘Together for a New Africa’ trains agents of change in Burkina Faso and 14 other African countries

Being an agent of change does not happen by chance. One prepares, one trains, one commits! There are several projects to train new men and women for a renewed Africa that we do not want to list yet. However, we cannot ignore the project “Together for a new Africa” promoted by the NGO New Humanity of the International Focolare Movement.

The project has just concluded the first seasonal university of the 2nd cycle, which runs from Monday 11 September to Friday 16 September 2023. The theme of the 5-day co-leadership training was “Becoming an agent of change“. 140 participants, accompanied by their mentors, from 14 African countries (Kenya, Burundi, Madagascar, Nigeria, Cameroon, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Uganda, Angola, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire) took part in the online sessions and met face-to-face in their respective countries. This allowed the participants to socialise, create bonds of brotherhood at the local level, and activate an objective observation of the challenges in their communities in order to plan how to actively contribute to development and change not only situations but also systems.

Objectives of the ‘Together for a New Africa’ project

The ‘Together for a New Africa’ project aims to empower young African leaders to face the challenges of their communities and shape the future of their continent, empowered by the concepts of co-leadership, good governance, culture of unity and shared responsibility based on the wisdom of ‘Ubuntu‘ to act together for the common good. The participants had the opportunity to share their knowledge and diverse academic, professional and cultural backgrounds, creating an enriching exchange in this wonderful three-year journey, which has just begun for this second wave.

This second cycle of the ‘Together for a New Africa’ project also gave the participants the opportunity for an intercontinental experience, as they were not only Africans. Young people from Europe and other countries also joined the online sessions to enable a mutually beneficial exchange. In today’s globalised world, it is important for young people to have an international and multicultural perspective on leadership.

Agents of change must be equipped with a growth mindset, as well as the skills to communicate, inspire and influence others to take positive action.

Some questions from young people on Africa-Europe relations

  1. If we look at past relations between North and Africa and take into account the present, many young people in our African countries, or better still in the sub-region, harbour a feeling of ‘hatred’ towards some European countries. How can we encourage young people and those around us to distinguish between the policies of these European countries and their citizens, so that we can fulfil our duty of reconciliation?
  2. Countries must cooperate. This is obvious. The need is felt through the loss of gains or innovation brought by the other. What does Africa bring to the table? What does the rest of the world bring to the table? Several countries have focused their strength on energy, economy, weapons, etc. For historical reasons, Africa has lagged behind in these areas. Africa’s main strength today remains its population, which represents a coveted market. Its mineral resources are increasingly protected thanks to governments taking more and more responsibility. But what about our main resource, our people? Is it protected? What mechanism should Africa put in place to protect its people? What strategy should it adopt to ensure that its people become more and more valuable?
  3. We seek endogenous social cohesion within our communities and between different communities; between our countries and continents. However, Africa remains wounded by the traditional channels through which its generosity has been betrayed. This cohesion must be played out on horizontal and vertical dimensions. Horizontally, we can continue to work with you because the same sufferings that our African communities are experiencing are also yours. But vertically, we are no longer willing to compromise with leaders, European or African, who would harm us. We have the impression that some European and African leaders do not understand or accept the path of wisdom and that, in the end, they seem to need violence to listen. Wisdom urgently needs to be embraced by leaders on all sides.


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