From September 25th to September 29th . during the Social and Democrats (S&D) Africa Week; the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) had a panel discussion in which Bora Kamwanya ACP YPN Parliamentary Relations Officer together with Kiza and Alphonse from Netherland discussed Youth Political Mobilisation, Freedom of Association and Peaceful Assembly in Africa. The panellists attempted to answer the questions: What challenges and what opportunities does the contemporary engagement of Millennials entail for Africa’s democracy and institutions?” And “What are the ways we can promote African youth political mobilisation, freedom of association and peaceful assembly?” The discussion was introduced by Vassilis Ntousas, FEPS International Relations Policy Advisor and moderated by Maria Freitas, FEPS Policy Advisor. Bora started by saying that that young people are interested in politics, they know how damaging the actual political status quo is to them and above all, they know that the solution resides in their knowledge.
He then outlined 3 challenges he believes prevent youth from access to full political participation. The first one is Mutual Trust between young and old generations – Bora defined that what the young generation wants is what Daenerys Targaryen would call “to break the wheel”, while the older generation wants to hold on to it not matter what – In his analogy, Bora describes the younger generation as the Mother of Dragon and the older generation as Cersei Lannister. The second challenge is finding Tools to constructively criticise without fear of repression or pressure from the community. Bora stated that in Africa we are educated to respect our elders to a level that is almost holy. In fact, it’s not allowed to correct your elder. Last but not least, he outlined the challenge of Access to the tools for emancipation. Bora said that youth need more platforms where they can express themselves freely in front of their representatives. Moreover, they should be able to submit recommendations to them. e.g. as it is done through the ACP-EU JPA Youth Forum.
On the bright side, he said, there are opportunities to seize from our challenges. The first one is that we can engage in more inter-generational exchange to promote holistic policy and decision-making. And then, we have the possibility of making the first step and Connect MPs and young people; something that the St. Julian’s plan does, by going further than just a declaration and breaks with NATO culture (no Action Talk Only).
TO answer the question How do we promote youth political mobilization, freedom of association and peaceful assembly, Bora suggested three options.
- Youth mainstreaming – recognize youth as an interest group e.g. in the constitution of Kenya, article 97, there is a legal obligation for political parties to nominate a proportion of their members to represent special interest, such as youth.
- Inter-generational exchanges.
- Opportunities for young people to be integrated in different societal structures e.g. Internships for inter-generational exchange with MPs, which also promotes awareness raising for youth on political processes, and that is what we recommend in St. Julian’s
By Bora Kamwanya
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