From July 8 – 10, 2021, Africans Rising participated in the “2nd sub-regional citizen summit: Strengthening of solidarity action by African CSOs for better governance practices and the effective application of Protocol of Democracy and Good Governance of ECOWAS” in Cotonou, Benin. As a part of the summit, Africans Rising delivered a speech during the opening session.
– Salutations [All protocol observed]
On behalf of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity, I would like to welcome all of you and thank you all for making time to partake in this important summit. We are here today to build solidarity among African CSOs and work together for the effective implementation of democracy and good governance of ECOWAS. I congratulate us all for actively engaging in this work.
In 2016, Africans and African Descendents gathered in Arusha, Tanzania to put together the Kilimanjaro Declaration, the founding document of the Africans Rising movement. In this declaration, we outlined our shared beliefs that Africa is a rich and diverse continent where youth are critical to building a decentralized and citizen-owned future. In this document, we also highlight our movements’ thematic pillars, including the constant demand for good governance as we fight corruption and impunity.
Through our efforts over the past five years, Africans Rising has provided support to various members and organisations responding to political crises. We held solidarity missions in Togo, The Gambia and Zambia. When Guinea President Alpha Conde introduced a constitutional change that would allow him a third term in office, Africans Rising held an online solidarity convening to help Guinean leaders and citizens prevent their country from sliding back into dictatorship. While we did not see the outcome we wanted, we were able to put pressure on the Guinean government and shed an international spotlight on the situation in the country.
In 2020, our #FreeThem campaign advocated for responsible decision-making from our African leaders to allow some of the people living at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19 to be released from jails and prisons across the continent. As we faced the global pandemic, it was clear that living in a prison, many of which are unsanitary and barely habitable can be a death sentence. By the end of 2020, heeding the demands of African citizens, over 87,000 people living in detention facilities across Africa were released.
Our movement also supports the African Creative Actions Network, a collective of artists and activists who use creative actions to hold African leaders accountable on issues of environment, political stability and transparent and fair elections. These are just a few of our activities in support of African activists and movements advocating for good governance.
Given our grassroots engagements, Africans Rising has grown to become an organisation with the strength of over 30,000 members across the continent and in the diaspora. We are all working together to build local, national, continental and global campaigns towards expanding justice, peace and dignity for all Africans wherever they live.
This year, in the month of May, we successfully concluded our Annual African Liberation Day celebration which engaged thousands of individuals and organisations across the continent and the diaspora. The many young Africans that took part in this mobilization testify to the fact that we as a people are educated on the issues affecting our communities and we are actively engaged in the work for our own liberation.
To us young people participating in this august summit, let that be an example to us that our communities have the strength and resources needed to fight for the development of the African continent.
So, as we strive to see our continent flourish, let’s remember that young people are the future and the future is now. Let’s use the power of our collective voices to call on our leaders. Let’s demand that their actions and authorities are not used for selfish aims, but that they are used to benefit the entire citizenry. Let’s raise our voices as we demand that African leaders, especially those within the ECOWAS bloc, respect legal and constitutional terms of two mandate limits.
As we are making this call, we also encourage young political office holders to set great examples by choosing not to cling to power or prioritize personal interests as leaders. Any elected official is a representative of the people, and as such, they should be responsive to the demands of those whom they represent.
At Africans Rising, we are determined to foster an Africa-wide solidarity and unity of purpose of the Peoples of Africa to build the Future we want – a right to peace, social inclusion and shared prosperity for all Africans. At this conference, I believe we are all united in this mission and I would like to encourage every young person here to join Africans Rising as a member. We are because you are. With that, we are grateful to be here with you all and we are grateful to see the success and wonderful work of our member organizations like Tournons La Page.
In closing, let’s always remember when we work together we can achieve great things. Let us take the future of the continent into our hands – Ubuntu.