Dr. Isatou Touray, Vice President of The Republic of The Gambia has urged African youths to be more critically minded and use non-violent means of engaging their governments in addressing their concerns, aspirations and wishes. She made this statement at a hotel in Banjul where more than one hundred youths across Africa are currently gathering at a confab dubbed Banjul +3 Forum.
Organizers of the forum said the objective of Banjul + 3 is to provide young African leaders of both sexes, of all categories and backgrounds with a platform to reflect and exchange between different segments of youth and to give them the opportunity to interact with other actors in the societal space to create the necessary synergies to bring solutions to their problems and those of society.
They disclosed that Banjul + 3 Forum will also focus on the roles and place of young women and men in several main areas of reflection: democracy, human rights; guaranteed freedoms; governance, peace and security; heritage, creativity and social transformations. The forum will be an opportunity to analyze the innovative capacity, creativity and new forms of emerging expressions of young people with a focus on the best benefit that can be derived from them.
“I am very happy to hear young people saying we want development, we want to move forward, we want to alleviate poverty and I believe the only way we can achieve these is to move in a way that is non conflict means of engagements. We need critical minds and critical consciousness, it is not about sitting down and going out there and organize protests and start attacking people because you don’t know where it will end.” said Dr. Isatou Touray.
Veep Touray challenged African youths to love their continent, to protect their continent, their countries and communities in a bid to move Africa forward, adding that conflict and war mongering will only derail the growth and progress of the continent at a time when other regions are on the move.
“Dear participants, the current political and developmental discourses we are facing are competitive and the various political economies that are dominant in developmental discourses are acknowledging and recognizing the potentials of our continent. Therefore, they are focusing attention on Africa which is very positive and we as Africans must be ready to take this advantage, we must also be ready to engage our leaders in a peaceful, non-violent means in our collective desire to move the continent forward”, VP Touray explained.
She called on the youths to work towards changing the narratives about Africa from negative to positive, noting that all what is said of Africa is about killings, tribal and ethnic problems, the unruly behaviors of the youths plus everything negative about Africa, arguing that the continent’s youths can learn from the positive stories of The Gambia youths who ended 22 years of dictatorship in the country through non-violent means.
“The Gambian youths and women were leaders in changing the country from a dictatorship to a democracy through the use of social media and in a non-violent way. We mobilized, we organized ourselves, shared one common mission to change what was happening because we were all suffering, through the use of social media in a positive way. The use of social media is not to create problems or to create coup ’d’état on the various social platforms”, Gambia’s Vice President stated.
Dr. Touray said the doors of The Gambia Government are widely open to engage, promote and enhance the potential, growth and development of youths, noting that the youths are the leaders of today and tomorrow and the Barrow Government will leave no stone unturned as far as youth matters are concerned.
The joint organization of the Third Forum of African Youth (Forum-Banjul + 3), is made possible courtesy of UNESCO and its partners, TrustAfrica, OHCHR, CODESRIA, ARTICLE 19 and the NGO Femmes Africa Solidarité through its Pan-African Centre for Gender, Peace and Development (FASPAC),the African Youth Council, the Gambian National Youth Council, etc. in collaboration with the Gambian authorities, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and UNOWAS. It is a continuation of their commitment to working with youth to ensure their autonomy and to promote their leadership.