Who decides the Africa we want?

The #EndSARS youth protests in Nigeria.

As we celebrated Africa Day a few days ago I listened to the impassioned commentary and speech by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and Human Rights Activist and Constitutional Lawyer Brian Kagoro respectively as they spoke about the Africa they saw in the glimmering distance versus the Africa they live in today.

The Africa we want document was created in 2013, when Africans, under the leadership of the African Union, set out to develop a “strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years.”

This new development programme was expected to “accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.”

This transformative programme, called Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want, was officially adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2015.

The heart of this ambitious development initiative are seven aspirations, which Africans hope to achieve by the year 2063. I thought to myself what is the Africa I want as a young African woman?

The first thing I thought about was an Africa free from Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, an article on usaid.org stated that femicide has increased by 60% in "Zimbabwe since the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown in March of 2020."

If we responded with the same urgency and deliberate precautions to GBVF as we did to the Ebola or COVID pandemics we would have made drastic life-saving strides that would not only protect the societal thread of Africa but would also have economic benefits for a rising working-class world of women.

According to the Ford Foundation; “It has been estimated that a woman is killed in South Africa every four hours, and at least half of them murdered by an intimate partner.

“The rate at which women are killed by intimate partners is also five times higher than the global average.”

This rate of femicide is higher than that of some countries in conflict and according to UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) “The most dangerous place for a woman is the home: it is estimated that around the world, a woman or girl is killed every 11 minutes in their own home.”

The increase in GBVF is a reminder of the need to have contingent mitigating mechanisms to protect the marginalised, women and girls, against a co-existing pandemic, GBV.

The intersection of marginalisation and discrimination made certain groups of women more susceptible to GBV and COVID-19 pandemics.

These intersecting social identities of vulnerability need equal attention in order to eradicate inequality (Simonovic, 2020).

When I thought of the future of Africa, femicide was not the only issue that came to mind. I also thought about how much of Africa's potential lies in its youth and how to best use the power of its two biggest demographics - women and young people.

Amilcar Cabral said: "Every revolution is first a cultural revolution," and a cultural revolution in Africa needs to happen to take advantage of the potential of its youth.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the youngest region in the world, with 70% of its population under the age of 30, with a female population of 50.17% in 2021, the highest percentage being in Zimbabwe at 52.83%.

Ban Ki-moon said: "Failing to invest in our youth is a false economy," and this has been made visibly apparent in Africa over the past decade with movements like the Arab Spring, #FeesMustFall in South Africa and the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.

According to the Africa Program Publications, the #EndSARS youth protests show that “the combination of police brutality and socioeconomic challenges facing the youth has led to discontent that has implications for regional security."

For Africa to become a powerful global player, it is essential that the "Africa we want" acknowledges and prioritises the Africa we currently have. Regional policies and investments must be used to drive change and set Africa up for success in the future.

The "Africa we want" should not be based on Eurocentric strategies, but rather, it should reflect the kind of democracies, societies, innovations, and homes we as Africans truly want.

"We have to answer this question first: What is the Africa that we want? We want an Africa that is free from violent conflict and war, what leadership should we produce to get that result?

"We want an Africa that is free from poverty, what kind of leadership do you need to create to end that poverty? We want an Africa that is free of corruption, how do you produce this leadership that is not corrupt?

"We want an Africa that is driven by women's emancipation, where is this leadership and how do we create it?... we need a critical self-assessment of ourselves as Africans," said former President of South Africa Thabo Mbeki.

The seeds of the future Africa walk amongst us every day, and it is up to us to decide what kind of Africa we want and what we will do to make it a reality.

  • Shana is an entrepreneur, digital and branding strategist.


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