Exactly a week ago today, a group of 100 young leaders drawn from across 14 countries in Africa, were being commissioned back into the world, after a 4-week intensive fellowship at the YALI RLC . They were going to join more than 2,200 other YALI alumni around Africa. I was privileged to be part of this team.
The lessons were as bountiful, as the experiences enriching. We came in as complete strangers, but left as bosom friends, having been blended in the melting pot of transformative leadership.
The YALI fellowship, more than anything else, aims to empower the self – our INNER MAN. And this is why.
The difference between us, the youth and some of the greatest men and women of our times, is the Camera lights. Today Ethiopians are celebrating PM Abiy Ahmed, while Tanzanians will probably never get over Mwalimu Nyerere, same way Kenyans fondly remember Joseph Murumbi, JM Kariuki and Tom Mboya with admiration. We all agree that Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela will remain alive and ebbed in all of History. But what’s the difference between us and them? Or put better, if today we were thrown into the treacherous national or global arena, and all the camera lights were on us, what would the world see? What kind of man, or woman will they say we are? Will our personal values, persuasions, convictions and passions inspire the world, or we will just be another spike in the continuum of time? What will the generations coming after us, say about us? When our kids are born and grow up, will they come back to us and say, “You were faithful”, or “Because of you, I have become”. What legacy are we leaving behind, through our everyday actions and roles?
These, and many more, are the kind of questions we continue to ask ourselves daily. And YALI ensured that we got to answer all of them from the heart. And not just answering, but committing to realize them throughout the rest of our lives.
In these times we are living in, there are no longer gray areas. It’s just plain Black or White. You are either changing your country or community, or not. You are either influencing, or being influenced. And long after we have exited the scene, it will be known, which side we were on. Now this is a good reason why we must choose to be on the right side of history.
Let’s keep Pressing for Progress, because the future of Africa depends on it.