“The Kenya we live in today that fought off colonialism, that struggled against dictatorship, and has ushered in a new Constitution and an almost universal thirst for peace and effective government is a Kenya whose young people have always spoken loudly for the love of the country,” said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga at the National Youth Summit in Nairobi on January 31, 2013.
In a speech presented by Youth Affairs and Sports Assistant Minister Wavinya Ndeti to more than 2,000 youth from all 47 counties in Kenya, the Prime Minister urged the youth to actively participate in the two-day summit and not allow conflict to escalate into violence.
The peace and leadership development summit, “Our Country, Our Responsibility,” was convened at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre by Brand Kenya Board in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Global Peace Foundation (GPF), Uwiano Platform for Peace and twelve other youth service organizations in Kenya.
Summit objectives included offering a platform for a youth leadership agenda in Kenya, promoting awareness of youth support programs, and advancing peace, reconciliation, and civic duty among Kenya’s diverse ethnic groups. Today 78 percent of Kenya’s population is comprised of young people between ages of 18 to 35, so Kenya’s youth bear significant responsibility in the approaching national elections in determining which leaders can best serve the national interest.
In a speech read on his behalf by GPF Executive Vice President David Caprara, Global Peace Foundation Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Moon told the youth leaders that Kenya and Africa can learn from the mistakes of the Northern Hemisphere where leaders of the financial system pursued profits before the interests of their societies. Kenya can choose a different path, he said. “Now is the time for Africans to take charge of their own destiny by cultivating your human resources, and in particular the qualities of moral and innovative leadership at every level of society.” Sir James Mancham, founding President of Seychelles and a member of GPF’s Global Leadership Council, encouraged the youth to first find peace of mind, and then spread peace to our brothers. “Unless we work together, we will not be able to make it,” he said. “Brotherhood is the key. We have to seek brotherhood.”
“Now is the time for Africans to take charge of their own destiny by cultivating your human resources, and in particular the qualities of moral and innovative leadership at every level of society.” –Global Peace Foundation Chairman Dr. Hyun Jin Moon
Mrs. Mary Kimonye, CEO of Brand Kenya Board, called on youth to build on the great legacy that Kenya has inherited and hand over a great country to our children. “Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth, but show them through your character who you are,” she said.
Other dignitaries who addressed the summit included Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Information and Communication; Dr. Martin Kimani, Director CEWARN; Ambassador Kipyego Chelagat, Assistant Secretary General Comesa; Mr. Insu Choi, GPF Regional Representative for Africa; and Mr. Tokosun, Global Peace Youth Corps President.
The power of social media was particularly emphasized at the summit, and youth pledged not to incite violence using words, tweets, Facebook posts or other social media. Politicians, media owners, and business leaders are only a tweet or Facebook post away, and youth can begin to determine what makes news through social media.
Mrs. Kimonye concluded with a poem that said, “There is a time for everything under the sun. A place for everything. We have more brain cells, time, and energy. It is our time to take the risks necessary for this county. To take up the challenge of taking Kenya forward. The older people’s place is to share wisdom and advice.”
–Reported by Global Peace Foundation Kenya