2018 marks the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth, and to honour his legacy, organisations and individuals all over the world are doing their part in to celebrate this significant year. On the 4th & 5th May 2018, I had the honor of attending a meeting arranged by the Graca Machel Trust and Mandela Institute for Development Studies. The two-day meeting was held at the African Leadership Academy, South Africa, where youth networks, NGOs and Civil Society organisations from across the continent convened to continue a conversation about the development of a new Pan-African youth-led movement.

Mrs. Machel and former Zimbabwe Minister of Industry and International Trade Dr. Nkosana Moyo called the meeting and also invited other key invited guests to come and share insights and to spark ideas of what this movement of youth networks could look like. One such guest is the founding General Secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (1985 to 1993) Mr. Jay Naidoo who gave a moving talk about the power of movements as well as the challenges they come with. All the esteemed guests shared lessons from their various backgrounds and played an important role as they inspired rigorous conversations about:

 what the purpose for this movement could be,
 who it would include/exclude, and
 who would need to champion it etc.

The facilitator did great job of guiding everyone through interesting activities that ignited more ideas and thoughts about the vision and mission of the movement should be. In fact, the majority of day one was really about a practical and visual exploration of ideas through activities like drawing and building models using Lego®. The themes that were tackled ranged from peace, active citizenship, education, entrepreneurship, the African agenda and more.
Day two on the other was about solidifying the ideas from the explorative sessions and focused more on charting some plans of what the vision could be and how it can be achieved. Based on people’s strengths and interests, everyone was given the choice to commit to a group of their choice. The groups focused on a) criteria for who to invite, b) logistics of the youth networks summit, c) communications and d) fundraising for the movement. After some discussions, each group presented to the others. I represented the communication group.

As with most processes, it was challenging to agree on one way forward considering all the variables that need to be taken into account beforehand. One of the most important questions that kept coming up was about implementation, specifically the issue of clear of roles and responsibilities. It was also evident that there would be a need for another meeting for further discussion of the formal meeting. However, it seems like there is an existing steering committee already and that they have been working on the event, which is great because there is work being done.
Invitations were received for a ‘youth networks summit’ that will be taking place on the 20th and 21st of July at Freedom Park in Pretoria, South Africa. Over 300 young people from across the continent have been invited to participate, including Board members of the Pan African Youth Network for a Culture of Peace. I hope that this meeting will also be used to get more views and hear from other voices (from youth) about what this place or role of this movement on our content.

PAYNCoP’s Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Tumy Motsoatsoe writes from South Africa