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These young Africans dream of becoming the next Mandela, Nasser, Adesina, Wangari Maathai or Houphouët-Boigny


Invited to the headquarters of the African Development Bank to try their hand at leadership in a game setting, several dozen young people took part in the new board game Made in Africa, created by Olubanke King Akerele, diplomat and former minister of Liberia.

It was an opportunity for the young participants to share their vision for the leadership and future of Africa, and to express their opinions on the place of young people in Africa.

Yacoub Mohamed Bamba, a language and literature student at Félix Houphouët-Boigny University, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

“As a young African, I do wonder about my future. What am I going to do after my studies? What will I eventually become? Thinking about leadership is all the more useful for a young person because to do so helps one prepare for future responsibilities. We are the future of this continent. We must not, then, fail to live up to the hope that has been placed in us. What I’ve taken away from this session is that leadership is also succeeding after starting off with nothing.”

Valerou Adelin Falle, UNESCO Club, an association for volunteers engaged in the promotion of the ideals of UNESCO.

“Young Africans have to take charge of their destinies. The whole issue is to show us that we, the youth, have the potential to become the leaders of tomorrow, the builders of our continent. Our parents worked to get us to this stage of development. And now it’s our turn and we must work to leave a strong and prosperous Africa to our children. But to reach that point, Africa has to have confidence in its young people, and not doubt them. In my view, if Africa is experiencing crises right now, this is partly because it has marginalized its young people in the conduct of public affairs.”

Clémentine Agroh, a language and literature student at Félix Houphouët-Boigny University, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

“I have found this session on the development of the emergent leadership of Africa to be really interesting. It’s an exercise that helps better prepare the young people of Africa to take on their responsibilities. If our countries want to effectively prepare for handing over the reins, they need to start introducing young people to leadership straight away. My takeaway is that you can be a leader in other ways than politics.”

Abibatou Sako, a communications student at Félix Houphouët-Boigny University, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

“Presenting this ‘Developing the Emergent Leadership of Africa’ game was excellent. It was an opportunity to prepare us for our future responsibilities. Exercises of this type give us renewed confidence. We have really learned that leadership is more than in politics and, especially, that when it comes to leaders there are other role models than politicians. The discussions helped us identify the challenges of today and possible solutions to meet them. As young people, we dream of an Africa that has put infant mortality behind it, of an Africa committed to democratic elections and living in economic prosperity. To get there, young people have to take on more responsibilities. It is not fair to say that young people are immature and must not be given any responsibility.” 

Ruth Mariette Amani, a law student at Félix Houphouët-Boigny University, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

“Leadership games like these develop young people’s capacities to take initiatives. If we do not give young people responsibilities now, how can we ask them to take over in the future? Young people account for 77 per cent of the African population and they must be given the corresponding responsibilities! They must be empowered now if we are to ensure a better Africa tomorrow.” 

Moustapha Daniel Siriki, a linguistics student at Félix Houphouët-Boigny University, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

“My role models are all those who were part of the abolition of slavery and the freeing of Africa from the colonial yoke. People like Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Nelson Mandela, Gamal Abdel Nasser and Patrice Lumumba. And I too want to become a role model for generations to come. The young people of Africa are a huge asset whose true worth the continent is not exploiting. The biggest mistake is to carry on thinking that young people are not suitable for taking on public responsibilities. If our elders tell us that we, the young, also have an added value, Africa will move forwards. For my part, I have an optimistic vision of the future, despite the many challenges and crises that the continent has to meet. Take Côte d’Ivoire for example: discussions are currently under way about building an underground railway system in Abidjan. This would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. Progress like this proves to me that we are moving forward, even if it takes time.” 

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