On Friday 15 December, 2023, activists and movement workers across the continent and African diaspora were acknowledged and appreciated in a virtual activism awards ceremony organized by Africans Rising. It was all joy for Monica Mutumi during the awards ceremony. ‘I can’t believe this. I wasn’t expecting to win this’, she exclaimed as she managed a few words and struggled to control her tears – tears of joy. Awww, adding to the excitement, the audience exclaimed in chorus congratulating Monica as she was announced the winner of the 2023 Africans Rising Artistic Activist of the Year. A young poet who has dedicated her art to the cause of human rights, Monica has struggled to overcome her shyness but when it comes to raising her voice for the voiceless, her courage knows no bounds. In her line of work just like all activists, she is hardly recognised or rewarded. Activism after all remains a thankless job, as noted by Africans Rising movement coordinator, Hardi Yakubu, who opened the awards ceremony. 

Joseph Tsongo from Democratic Republic of Congo was extremely ecstatic after being announced the winner of 2023 Africans Rising Activist of the year. ” I am very happy to win this award and a huge thank you to Africans Rising for the recognition and congratulations to all the young activists in this contest and programs, we are all Africans, we are all winners, we are part of the solutions that we Africans need and we should keep up the great work”.

Other awardees in all categories can be found here.

When Dr. Maria Enow Ayuk was invited to speak on her activities about Africans in diaspora, she did not mince her words. This was after being recognized and presented with an Honorary Award in the 2023 Activism in Diaspora category. A Pan-Africanist, an academic in peace and security as well as an advocate for African refugees and asylum seekers in Germany and Europe. Dr. Ayuk  is passionate about her work and thrilled by the fact that she can make a difference in peoples’ lives through her organization based in Germany where she works together with other Africans particularly the vulnerable and underrepresented group including the young people, women and children, asylum seekers, refugees and youth workers. She dedicated this award to the African diaspora. “I will also say that this award does not go to me and my team, but to the entire Africa diaspora and organizations that make a positive impact in changing the lives of African people in the diaspora. They actually deserve this award. I stand here to represent this organization not only by representing Maria, but for all the heroes in the diaspora that work tirelessly to  change the lives of the African diaspora, specifically in foreign countries where we have different challenges that we face every day”. 

Awards Ceremony

Watch the Awards ceremony video here and see how the winners reacted after the announcement of their victory.

In his opening remarks, the movement coordinator, Hardi Yakubu stated the need for Africans to mobilize themselves in unity and solidarity in order to confront the numerous challenges facing them. “It is by working together that we can defeat these challenges. Since the launch of Africans Rising in 2017, we have been making a lot of effort to ensure that this ideal is reached in that we are able to bring together Africans in a way that the founding members of the movement envisaged. One of the ways we have sought to do this is through Activism Awards”. 

As an activist, Hardi could resonate well with the risks activists go through on a daily basis, the enormous challenges to themselves, their families and also their communities yet they brave these challenges and refuse to relent until a better society for all is achieved. He narrated his personal experience and cited one incident that remains vivid in his mind where a rubber bullet was fired at him from a close range that targeted his neck during one of the protests they had organized in Ghana. He asserts that activism is such a thankless job and has had activists having to pay an ultimate price yet there is hardly any recognition.  It is out of such experiences that Africans Rising instituted the Activism Award initiative to acknowledge and appreciate all activists and despite the thankless nature of this job, the risk they take for Africa would not go unappreciated; not by Africans Rising or by millions of Africans who stand to benefit from the legacy these activists leave behind.

Africans Rising Activism Awards is an initiative to connect, support, and showcase activism as a worthy cause in African society and highlights the great work by African activists and movements that bring positive change in African communities. Many activists continue to risk their lives as they push the boundaries in hopes of securing a prosperous Africa for all Africans in the globe. As a movement of movements, over the past 5 years Africans Rising has made it a point to acknowledge and recognise the work of these activists and movements across the continent and diaspora through this awards initiative.  As the Movement Coordinator reiterated during the awards ceremony, “Activism Awards are not a competition trophy and they don’t seek to show who is the best activist and who is not. Far from that. Rather, it is a token of appreciation that says to all activists, keep doing what you do, we see you, we acknowledge and appreciate you. You uphold Africa and Africa is proud of you”.

During this  fifth anniversary of the awards initiative, he further stressed that the movement  will be doing a learning process on the activism awards this year, 2024. One of the reforms to be brought forth will be a decision on whether to continue voting.  “We do not want to create competition amongst activists or to give the impression that we are sieving out the best activists, there is no best activist in this work. We don’t have enough resources to reward every activist in the continent and diaspora. Africans Rising will ensure that activists feel appreciated even if they do not win any award from the movement and will make sure that the efforts of these brave people will continue to be noticed and will not be in vain. Africa shall be better, Africa shall unite and in unity we shall regain our strength and push forward to taking destiny into our own hands.

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