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RISKING IT ALL!

Photo by: Aris Messinis/AFP
A few hours ago, I watched a disturbing video of young folks from various African Countries risking it all at the Libyan Coast just to make it out of Africa for a better life. Whiles many would damn them for venturing to such a risk, I would rather prefer to question the conscience of our leaders in failing to make our countries in Africa a golden paradise, abound in natural resources!

Having travelled to a greater world and captivated by the enchanting beauty of people, places and culture,  I have come to realize that as humans we all share similar and common needs. And that no matter the race or background, we always require these needs [to be fulfilled]. This is what is lacking in most African countries and perhaps it explains why people would leave their countries and risk it all to places where they think these needs can be met no matter how much they can endure.

So when we want to point fingers at those poor souls, please let us first consider this: that our stories and resistance to hardship are never the same and that our leaders owe it as a contractual responsibility to make life better for us! God made us to be great, we must not make average a benchmark for living, we deserve a better life and living!

This is why I say that until our leaders make available and affordable, the basic needs they effortlessly enjoy always, we would continue to blame them for those poor souls that perish on icy waters by risking it all just for those same basic needs.

Africa needs a mental evolution!

I am BANDAJUMA.

Errors and opinions are mine.



Author
Sulaiman Bandajuma Sowa
Sierra Leone

Posted by ITY AFRICA

RISKING IT ALL!

Liberation Of The Gambian Girl

In the simplest form, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) can be defined as the act by which the clitoris of a young girl is removed. In most cases it is carried out primitively with the use of knife or razor blades. Lucy Odom, a Special Educationist from the University of Buea, Cameroon, stated that FGM is aimed at transforming a young girl into a “woman”. 

Adaeze Chianumba a Nigeria based advocate for the “girl child” stated that the act could otherwise be called "female circumcision" which is done by the elderly women in villages. The practice can be traced back centuries ago and has a history of its early existence in some African countries especially in Somalia, which has the highest prevalence of FGM in the world. Also, more than 130 million women worldwide are subjected to the procedure, especially in Africa and in the Middle East. In addition, Wikipedia, affirmed that FGM is concentrated in 27 African countries, Yemen and Iraqi Kurdistan, and found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East, and among diaspora communities around the world.   

In 1997 the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) defined FGM as the “partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” The procedures differ according to the ethnic group in question. However, in the divergence of the procedural rights, the aftermath of the cutting ritual is the same everywhere regardless of any ethnic group. The modus operandi includes, the removal of the clitoral hood and clitoral glans, removal of the inner labia and in most severe form (known as infibulation) and the removal of the inner and outer labia and closure of the vulva. Health experts have always warned that its effects are again dependent on the procedure, but can include recurrent infections, chronic pain, cysts, infertility, lifelong health complications, complications during child-birth, and fatal bleeding. 

Some people believe that the practice is rooted in gender inequality and attempts to control women’s sexuality, recalling ideas about purity, modesty and aesthetics. Aji Rohey Bah, a Law Student come activist narrated that the widespread view of FGM in the Gambia is that it is a means by which girls could be "better" in the future, a way of preserving their virginity for their husbands, and a way of spiritual cleansing to mention but a few.   

In November 2015, the Gambian President announced that Gambia will ban FGM as a result of the global campaign launched by the Guardian to end the practice. There have been stories and tales of controversy trailing the practice of FGM in The Gambia. Kate Lyons in the Guardian stated that Muslim clerics in the country have come out to say that what is practiced in Gambia is female circumcision and not FGM. In the reportage, the state house Imam, Alhaji Abdoulie Fatty said, “I have never heard of anyone who died as a result of female genital mutilation (FGM)... If you know what FGM means, you know that we do not practice that here. We do not mutilate our children.” Seeing that the Muslim clerics advanced yet another argument to say that FGM is different from female circumcision raises more dust into the issue. Anti-FGM activists would insist otherwise. Be it as it may, the complexity of their argument is another point of call.   

It is trite that laws are formulated to govern current realities in the society. To be honest, the problem is not in what the laws state, but in their enforcement. It is without doubt that FGM has been outlawed or restricted in most of the countries in which it occurs. The enforcement of these laws is what is lacking, largely due to the lethargy of regulatory bodies in enforcing these laws and regulations. However, before the end of 2015 FGM was banned in Nigeria, which joined 18 other African countries that have outlawed the practice, including Central African Republic, Egypt and South Africa. Gambia was not  in the list.   

The President, Yahya Jammeh stated that the controversial surgical intervention would be outlawed. The ban would come into effect immediately, even though it is not clear when the government would draft a legislation to enforce it. The Guardian published in November last year that 76% of females in Gambia have been subjected to FGM. It is pertinent to know that the age at which FGM takes place in the Gambia is not recorded, but what is certain is that in most of the countries for which national figure is available, most girls are cut before the age of five. In the case of the Gambia it is prevalent in females between the ages 14-49, this means that by the age of 14, 56% of females in the country have had the procedure.  

Interestingly, reports have shown that the public support for FGM has dropped considerably in recent decades among women across all age groups. Perhaps this set of people has come to realize the wrongness of this practice and decided to give room to the thoughts of civilization in a 21st century setting. Whatever the case is, a ban on FGM is only but the beginning. However, the government of the Gambia should be commended on taking the bold step by announcing it. President Jammeh has started on a good note, the zeal and commitment towards liberating the girl child from mutilation should then be pursued vigorously such that the reduction in the prevalence of this practice will be an achievable task.


About The Author
Ajobiewe Tolulope Odigwe
Ajobiewe is an African Youth Activist from Nigeria and a member of Ignite The Youth.

Posted by Slycolor

Liberation Of The Gambian Girl

Why We Can't Wait!


By Ahmed Konneh (Liberia)

Whenever I look in to the future, I’m scared. I know my generation will be defined by extreme injustice, mass poverty, diseases, climate change, global warming, tension, war and terrorism. I also know that values such as integrity, patriotism, trust, love and humanity will become extinct. I doubt not that extreme greed will become the order of the day. Hunger will launch a frontal assault on the “wretched of the earth.” If the current situation can be used to predict the future, there is no doubt the future of my generation looks bleak. This might seem depressing and pessimistic but sadly is the truth unless we respond faster. We have a sacred obligation to utter the current course of history for the benefit of the future generation.

Already, we live in a world where there is so much hardship, hate, war, greed, selfishness and hunger.  We have more poor people in the world today than any other time in history. According to Joshua Cohen in his foreword of the book “Making Aid work”:  “More than a billion people now live on less than a dollar a day; eight million children die each year because they are simply too poor to live; ten million children die each year because they have the terrible misfortune of being in a country with a high infant mortality rate”. We only have 25 years’ worth of coal and 50 years’ worth of oil left. Thousands of species are going extinct per day because of our current behaviors on earth. At the current rate of population growth, we will reach the carrying capacity of the earth (with estimates ranging from 8-20 billion) in around 50-100 years. This may seem like a long time but unless we act quicker, we were headed for a catastrophic future.

Our generation must use the breakthroughs in technology and science to improve the human condition. Securing a more peaceful and safer environment for the next generation is perhaps the greatest moral challenge of our generation. We owe the next generation a cleaner, hunger free and more peaceful environment. The past generation in spite of all its awful deeds put the man on the moon. They witnessed the first personal computer. They saw the undisputed rise of capitalism and Democracy.

We must act now to save the future generation. With all the negative forces against us, we cannot afford to wait for the ‘perfect time’. The consequences of inaction is deadly. We must not only advocate for a better future but must ensure it is a reality. Our generation needs to harness the human power of creativity and innovation to overcome many of the threats facing us and the future generation. It is only through taking all of these preemptive measures that people like me will not look into the future with fear and hopelessness.  



The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by Slycolor

Why We Can't Wait!

Invisible Ceiling

Photo Credit: Kaz Chiba (Getty Images) - 88011528
Well this ceiling is only invisible to some... We just celebrated international women’s day, and this year seems like it was more popular than last. It could be that I find myself in spaces where we talk about it more often, or it was just advertised a lot better and people just know about it. I was walking with a male friend of mine the other day. It was just a few days before the international women’s day. We were talking about what we were going to do that day. He told me about how he has a sister that he is really close to, and she was always treated the same way he was at home. And I remember agreeing with him on several levels, because I come from such a household. Parents give you equal attention, your ambitions are your ambitions and family will do what it can to support. I have been fortunate to have access to education and encouraged as well. Then he said one thing that completely changed our discussion from harmonious agreement to a screeching halt. He said, “Actually, I don’t get what international women’s day is about, are things really that bad?”

Hold up, hold up, hold up!  Yes, I had to say it three times- because it needs that much emphasis. Just because there is peace inside your house does not mean outside your doorstep that war is not happening somewhere else. Just because in your few meters of life things seem balanced- doesn’t mean they are balanced everywhere. So, I decided to ask him a few questions. This honestly happened to me- I was driving with a guy friend and we had gone to the market. As I was trying to park, the lot was filled with these guys who come and wash your car for a few coins. They ran up to your car vigorously, knocking on your window- obstructing your view and concentration as you try and align the car with the parking space. Some stand behind your car- waving their hands and giving signals to allow you to park. Then I finally just followed the instruction and parked. That day, I felt like giving- so I remove fifty shillings from my purse- and hand it to him- and he looks over to the man and says, thank you. But, this was from my purse. I remember standing there and asking, why would you thank him?  It came from me. I have more instances where such occurrences in different circumstances have happened. The thing is, situations like this happen to women every day. Sometimes we take notice and other times we just brush it off.  However, there are some men who really have no clue.

Things are not black and white when it comes to gender- they tend to be grey. At what point are we undermining or disrespecting tradition and when are things just outdated? What do we even use to measure those things? Africa is filled with culture and traditions which are richly intertwined with our heritage and upbringing. The whole gender equity argument some are furiously against it because they do not quite understand what it is about. No one is talking about emasculating men. Africa will have to have her own definition- we cannot copy paste perceptions from the west and expect them to work here- there is no way they will. 



About The Author:
Nerima Martha Wako
Nairobi, Kenya

"Currently pursuing my Ph.D. from Euclid University in
Mediation and Conflict Resolution. I am interested in political leadership
in the next few years."







The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by Slycolor

Invisible Ceiling

Talking Gender: With Alida Irakoze

Q How should Gender roles be changed to balance the status of both men and women?
A Balancing the status of men and women will not be brought by changing Gender Roles, instead gender roles should be well defined, developed and respected by both parties to ensure a balanced gender community. Traditionally, it has been perceived that there are tasks done by men that can’t be done by women. This retarded the function of many households, hence affecting both community and country development in general. 

This was proven by many cases where boys would be educated but leaving out the girls, as the 'expected' role for females would be "home-caring" whereas men were the ones to plan and get involved in all political and social- economic activities. Psychologically, this increased women’s vulnerability, depriving them of the rights to think further, plan and participate actively in developmental activities. 

However much the physical status of men and women can't be changed due to nature, it can not be a reason for putting men on the forefront in some of activities. As we are in the world of science and technology, even construction and military occupations that were perceived to be sectors that required a lot of physical strength have evolved with today’s world civilization and development. This should therefore go hand in hand with Women's Empowerment and gender balance should as well be raised by focusing on the mutual division of labor based on ones proven knowledge and skills. This should all be reinforced by  open communication between the two genders. 

Q Are the rights of women in your country respected and protected well enough?
A Rwanda is among the countries that are leading by example in relation to respecting Women's Rights and Empowerment as shown in the leadership approach where women in Rwanda constitute more than 40% in parliament! Girls' education has been uplifted and they prove to be among the best performers.
Rwanda is promoting and practicing equal rights to both boys and girls, however there are still cases of gender based violence, despite a tremendous decrease. Sensitization and the reinforcement of gender and Women's rights policies are needed to ensure they are respected. 

Q In your opinion, what should be the priority for resolving Gender Issues in Africa?  
A In Africa, gender equality advocacy is perceived to be negative for existing culture and values. Men see it as a way to raise women’s voices over them and promote women to disrespect their husbands. With this perception among others, it brings resistance to adapt gender concept in some of African communities.
As a way forward, our priority should be to provide clear definitions of Gender, to develop guidelines and policies adapted to each country and to establish strategies to reinforce the policies put forth.




Posted by Slycolor

Talking Gender: With Alida Irakoze

My Message To The African Youth - Joan Mwende

Being young and vibrant, the African youth have so much potential! If we are motivated, passionate and refuse to entertain how things are run in the world today, we can be the cause of a lot of change. It is very common to be discouraged by the current systems in politics and society. Despite this, we need to learn to be the "change" and create a better world. We do not need to leave our futures to people who do not care about them! The following are pointers to young leaders across the continent:

  • African youth should step up and be the sources of change from the grassroots, like the 'Community Level' itself.

  • The young people interested to be the change in their communities are to be cultured and involved in social activism and politics so as to stay informed on issues and equally educate others around them. This can be done through social media platforms, reading books, following events happening currently and connecting with like minded people. They say change begins with education.

  • Do not be afraid of failure. Life is about metamorphosis and growing where failure is part of it. It is okay to be wrong at some point, and being aware of it is a good thing.

  • Be ready to be looked down upon because of your age, something which can easily make you doubt yourself. You should not allow yourself to be defined by such! Set your own standards and limits! Always remember your age is a great asset not a liability.


  • The problems we are facing currently in our world are young enough to need young people to solve them.

  • Being young means new perspective not lack of knowledge.

  • Tackle what you are passionate about - That issue that makes you furious and gives you sleepless nights when unsolved - When you start with your passion, you could cause a great deal of change!





The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by Slycolor

My Message To The African Youth - Joan Mwende