TAKING THE MANTLE FROM KOFI ANNAN: THE ROLE OF AFRICAN YOUTHS

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Former United Nations (UN) secretary-general Kofi Annan poses during a photo session in Paris on December 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET

I was in faraway Mafi Akukokpo, a small village in the Mafi Zongo Electoral Area of the Central Tongu District of the Volta Region, Ghana, West Africa when I heard of the sudden demise of a hero, mentor, role model, peace advocate and governance icon, Kofi Annan.

That community is one of the most deprived in Ghana and has been in the news lately for their lack of portable water. As their Local Assembly Member, I could not sleep after watching a video of the poor women, children and men drinking a water that is “muddy, brownish, unclean and thick as porridge”, unhygienic and contaminated from unwholesome source. We have appealed to authorities to help solve the challenges but to no avail and the only option left was to involve the media.

So definitely I was in the community with some development partners to iron out how we could help them get access to portable water.

I was really petrified when I heard the news of the death of somebody I have always prayed to meet. In fact, my prayer has always been to meet Kofi Annan and H.E Barack Obama. These two global leaders inspire me. We have lost a fine gentleman who carried Ghana and Africa to the United Nations (UN). I couldn’t agree more when Anthony Guttaires, the current UN Secretary General, said that “Kofi Annan was the UN”.

Mr. Kofi Annan was a legend of peace, leadership and governance. His love and stance on affairs of the youths and children is worth emulating by all leaders across the world. He demonstrated, through his exploits with the UN, that humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In summary, Kofi Annan was a generational thinker who ruthlessly believed in this current generation to make a better and progressive future for the next generation.

But I believe that, as young leaders, the best tribute and remembrance of this legend is to continue shaping our local communities and ensure we collaboratively work to ensure we achieve the United Nations target of eradicating poverty and hunger. That means, we lead the agenda for creation and implementation of society-transforming initiatives that would ensure community development, local economic development and transformation.

I believe, we the youths must be the change we want to see in the world if we really want the legacies of Kofi Annan to live on. Kofi Annan really represent the best of everything the world needs.

We must disruptively and innovatively ensure governments and those in authorities at all levels create a just and empowered society which would not create economic growth in which the majority are poor, but a system where those poor get their fair share of the resources required for growth. This also means that, we the youths must ensure our local communities participates in political processes and decision making and that their voices are heard by those in authority no matter the cost it comes with. It also calls for accountability and equity in service delivery. We must push for efforts to develop plans and make policies that ensures growth and bridge the inequality gap.

To get the kind of Kofi Annan in Africa would take ages. He was Africa to the whole world and Africa was him. He represented every good thing the world needs to know about Africa. But to be able to produce another Kofi Annan then we the youths must take up leadership and governance roles in our local communities, volunteer to create difference in the lives of fellow Africans and work with hard work to have our presence felt at the global level. African Youths must be passionate and zealous about leadership, entrepreneurship and volunteerism and building an impeccable career or professional future for themselves and society. We must be passionate about servant leadership and being active citizens by creating change and making positive differences in our communities, Africa, and the world. We must always be socially responsible by getting connected with the problems of our communities as well as the solutions. We the youths must certainly return to society some of the benefits that has been given us through shaping of lives and creating differences within them.

These are the only ways another Kofi Annan can be produced. If we fail to do these, the world would go back to the chasm.

I believe, we can and we will. “Yes we can!”

It is a sad moment for Africa and it is a sad moment for global peace and development.

But I believe, Kofi Annan never dies.

Hedenyuie (RIP) Kofi Annan.

About Author:
JULIUS KARL D. FIEVE
fievedkjulius@gmail.com / +233207979918
Ghana, West Africa

THE WRITER is Youth Advocate, Community Development and Project Management Expert who not only possess the potential to be change maker but have already demonstrated this beyond reasonable doubt. He has been actively involved in the field of development and leadership where he currently serves as the youngest elected Local Government Assembly Member in Ghana representing a population of over 7000 people in the Central Tongu District of the Volta Region. He is an iconic figure in sustainable development advocacy and socioeconomic empowerment of the youths, women and marginalized in deprived communities. He is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a Member of Youth Without Borders-a Pan African Youth Group and an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society. He is also a US Government funded Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Fellow and trained in Civil Leadership Track.