“If you want to walk fast, walk alone. If you want to walk far, walk with together” is an African proverb that brings forth the notion of unity and of living in a community. It is a saying that resonated with many who want to engage others in their pursuit for change, so that the results are shared and beneficial to all. This is a spirit that sits well with the ten African Activists who were part of a pilot Activists in Residence, (AiR) programme organized by Africans Rising to give them an opportunity to share experiences, look at the challenges they face and take time to interact and through that become energized and encouraged to continue their pursuit for social justice.

The activists were based in Arusha in the beautiful grounds of the Danish founded Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MS-TCDC). The Centre’s grounds that allowed the Activists to be close to nature and wake up to the sight of Mount Meru every morning also gave them the opportunity to share what each was doing in their countries and in the civic spaces that for most was shrinking. These were Activists who some of them had been jailed and tortured but had also taken part in demonstrations, picketing and caused civil disobedience on issues they disagreed about with the system..

As the time in Arusha came to a close, the Activists had time with the Coordinator of Africans Rising, Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan a Gambian, to know more of what was expected of them. This is because after a month, and being Activists, they understood they had a role to play towards making Africans Rising to be heard and understood as well as having people signing up to the Kilimanjaro Declaration of 2016 which is the cornerstone of the movement and Founding Charter.

Lamin informed the activists that they have now become Ambassadors of Africans Rising and as such they will have to organize awareness raising activities in their countries. They also become focal points for the movement. Most importantly, he said that, “in five years we expect the movement to be able to finance itself without aid from the Western world. The Africa we want has to be funded by Africans.’

This was a point that brought forth a lot of nods from the activists who were listening attentively to him. “If 1 million Africans contributed a dollar towards the movement we would have a one million dollars, which means we would not need any help. So we need to build that spirit otherwise in five years we would have failed to build it nor will we have the capacity to sustain it.” He told the Activists.

The notion of Africans always going with a cap in hand to Western countries and in the process compromising the African agenda had caused a lot of heated discussions among the Activists and Lamin’s words had thus dropped on fertile ground in a way out of a position that most Africans passionately do not want to be in. The fertility of the ground was so much so that the minute he left the room, as one, the Activists decided “let us, as AiR2017, give our dollar towards the Africa we want, the Africa that stands for Justice, Peace and Dignity.”

The AiR 2017Cohort that handed their five dollars (5 USD) to Africans Rising are Franck Houetehou C. Hounsa (Benin); Mbongo Ali (Burundi); Legrand Sylva Mbikayi (DR Congo); Otieno Ombok (Kenya); Julie Weah (Liberia); Amina Terrass (Morocco); Ngone Ali Ngom (Senegal); Abdi Muse ‘Pele’ (Somaliland/UK); Valerie N. Msoka (Tanzania); Pepe Julian Onziema (Uganda) and not to be left out, Sahlim Charles ( Kenya), the Social Media expert working with AiR 2017 also made his contribution

Valerie N. Msoka

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