SATURDAY 31ST OCTOBER 2015 – DAY THREE
The day began much later compared to day two. We begun our sessions at 10.30 a.m. and went right through until 1.30 pm. To cover up for the time we lost as a result of starting late. Our deliberations were quite fruitful and we felt quite pleased with the points we had brought forward.
After lunch, we returned to continue our deliberations as one huge team in the main conference hall. This involved collating everyone’s points and making it into one document that all countries agreed to. It was quite amusing to see some delegates reiterate points that had already been brought forth whilst others tore down every single suggestion offering none of their own!
Also, this was the first time I was privy to the interpreters’ great prowess. The Francophone countries’ delegates were quite passionate about giving their points and I am certain a lot of the passion was lost in the translation.
All 3 teams presented their resolutions. The first 2 teams had their resolutions accepted by all in a matter of 30 minutes and I felt confident that we would conclude deliberations early. But that was not the case, the third team – my team- had so many errors in our resolution that it took another 2 hours to go through it and try and agree on at least some of the salient points. By the time we were done, the sponsor of our resolution had given up and disowned it!
I learnt later that when our Chairperson and his team were compiling the resolution, they did not proof read the document. Additionally, the sponsor and co-sponsors had a duty to go through the resolution and ensure that what was contained in it was a true reflection of what we had deliberated for 1.5 days. They had not. This got me thinking about all the times when we as country send out envoys to deliberate on our behalf and made me realise how important it is that these envoys be committed to the cause and ensure that they represent the best interests of the country. Also, as I came to discover, once it is established that one is present as a delegate representing their country’s interests then whether they vote or not the resolution that is passed is still binding on their country. Slacking or general ambivalence during conferences results in not only shoddy work being done during the resolution process but also one’s country being bound by resolutions which they did not participate in making.
The day ended with a reminder to keep time the next day as it would be the Youth Day and there was a jam-packed schedule. We were warned that the Commissioner would begin with or without us.
SUNDAY 1ST NOVEMBER 2015 – DAY FOUR
Africa Youth Day began with a bright sunny morning. We reported to the African Union Headquarters main building at 8.30 am where we were registered and received a little token to mark the day’s celebrations: a green 2015 AU Youth Day Shirt and a white hat. We were also given some brochures and the African Union handbook that explained more about Agenda 2063.
The celebrations began promptly at 9.30 am. In attendance were: the Commissioner Human Resource Science and Technology (HRST), the Director of Human Resource Science and Technology (HRST), the Deputy Chief of Staff and the President of the Pan African Youth Union (PYU).
The theme of this year’s Africa Youth Day Summit was “African Year of Human Rights towards Agenda 2063 – the Africa we want”. It was in line with the theme of the 2016 African Union Summit “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”. The Commissioner urged us to take advantage of this occasion to reiterate our willingness to be part of the implementation process of Agenda 2063, the new endogenous framework for Africa’s development.
So, what is the Africa Youth Day about? The 1st of November was proclaimed and instituted as The Africa Youth Day when the African Youth Charter was adopted by the Executive Council during the Banjul Summit 2006. Africa Youth Day is a day set aside every year to promote the increased recognition of youth as key agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development in all areas of African Society.
What about Agenda 2063? Agenda 2063 is Africa’s new development framework that was adopted by the 24th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly on the 31st January 2013. It aimed at having a peaceful, united, self-sufficient and developed Africa in 50 years.
During the celebration, the African Union Commissioner recognized 10 young Africans, called youth heroes, from the 5 African regions for their work in the areas of human rights, especially the rights of young women to education, health, gender equality and civic engagement. These heroes both men and women gave a brief testimony of their work with the young people across Africa. They also had booths outside the conference hall that we took the time to visit and learn more about their work.
The 3 heroes whose testimony made an impact on me were:
1. Georgina Obonyo of Youth 4 life from Kenya
2. Lebogang Motsumi of Zazi from South Africa who shared her personal story
3. Lily Banda From Malawi who talked to us about what she does
The Commissioner also challenged us to come together as youth and form AU Youth Clubs that would be able to disseminate the Agenda 2063 to all youth in our countries. He welcomed suggestions from delegates on how we could best structure the AU Youth Clubs, working hand in hand with the PYU. Below are the links to the Commissioner and PYU President’s speeches:
1. Commissioner’s speech
2. PYU President’s speech
MONDAY 2ND NOVEMBER 2015 – DAY FIVE
I woke up with mixed feelings: I was sad that I was saying goodbye to MaryAnn, a close and dear friend but extremely happy to be going back home to my husband and family. At 8.20 am, I bid MaryAnn and her family farewell, got into the taxi and off to the airport. The traffic was not as bad as the one we experience in Nairobi. I was checking in my baggage just 30 minutes after leaving the house. I was very impressed.
I was quite early so I was one of the first passengers to check in, and go through customs. I whiled the time away by doing some window shopping in the different duty free shops. The window shopping was a GREAT disappointment. First off, the prices were extremely high considering they claimed to be duty free. Second, the shops had little or no variety.
Eventually it was time to board the plane. At the waiting lounge of the gate, I met with some of the other Kenyan delegates who were also heading home. The flight left 30 minutes late and was relatively uneventful until we had to land in Nairobi where we experienced turbulence that left me extremely queasy. By God’s grace and the pilot’s skilful navigation we landed safe and sound. I was only too glad to get off the plane!
I managed to literally zoom past the mandatory Ebola check, Yellow Fever check, Immigration check, Baggage Claims and Customs Check. Clearly, Someone was working overtime to ensure I was reunited with my husband as fast as possible.
I LOVED the Addis experience! Thanks to the African Union and most of all to MaryAnn a gem of a friend!
By Caroline Ouma.