My journey back to Nairobi from Arusha was as eventful as the conference itself, and a great point of learning. I hitched a lift on a bus that had been hired by a group of Ugandan women to Arusha for the conference, and which they were now using to head back to Uganda. As we interacted during the journey, I heard stories of pain from years of conflict and plunder, but also heard stories full of optimism and brave actions they were undertaking to recreate the Africa they want their children and future generations to inherit.
When I alighted in Nairobi hours later, having covered roughly 300 kilometers with them, they reminded me of the around 1,200 kilometers some of them still had to cover to get to their homes in Yumbe, Kotido and other parts of northern Uganda.
As I write this, they are probably back home, having travelled roughly 3,000 kilometres by road with minimal stops to get to the conference and back home. The women reminded me of the story of the strength and resilience of the African woman that comrade Ene Obi shared at the end of the conference.
As we settle back to our lives, let us remember that this year’s (2016) theme for the African Liberation Day celebrations was, African women and youth at the frontline: Revolutionary Pan-Africanism is the only solution. Let’s bear in mind the task that lies ahead, and the role to be played by women and youth in organising citizens and descendants of Africa and their struggles under one umbrella.
The Africans Rising movement seeks the realisation of what governments, multilateral institutions, and mainstream civil society have failed to achieve for decades. These include the right to equity and dignity, expanded space for civic and political action, women’s rights and freedoms, climate and environmental justice, and good governance.
The #Africans Rising conference that I attended last week has reinforced my belief that the change African people demand is possible, and that there exist many who are ready to collectively stand up to power and be part of this disruptive process. Indeed, deliberations over the course of the two days recognised the huge role that women and youth have to play in the process of recreating a new Africa
The inclusive nature of membership and diversity within the movement has brought a wealth of experience in activism and community organising within a single pan-African movement. This wealth of experience could eventually translate into a valuable asset for younger members of the movement, but only if it is actively used to cultivate a revolutionary ideology within those younger cadres. As Malcolm X said, “The greatest mistake of the movement has been trying to organise a sleeping people around specific goals.
You have to wake the people up first, and then you’ll get action.” The youth membership of the Africans Rising movement must therefore work towards awakening the huge proportion of their generation that has been zombified by colonial education systems and an oversold narrative of consumerism. One of my friends quipped that the act of youth cutting the cake decorated with the words “Africa Unite” at the end of the two-day conference was probably symbolic of the vanguard role youth will play in the movement.
Revolutionary Pan-Africanism is the only solution. Are you ready?
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*Oyoo is a political activist and writer, based in Kenya.