A clarion call for African women to rise up to the occasion and take their destiny into their own hands by YPLSA Alumnus Alex Kalex Kayee.
A little over two weeks ago, I sat in an audience of very bright young people from across Africa and we were privileged to have had the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone as our Keynote speaker. His exposé was excellent! Being someone with a mountain of knowledge, he touched on a wide range of issues spanning from independent civil society to the state of democracy across Africa and Eastern Europe. It was an amazing presentation! However, he said one thing that received a very giant round of applause and jubilation specifically from females - that was when he mentioned that" the Face of Africa is FEMALE!"
Honestly, this wasn't the first time I came across this statement. Some time back, I came across an article that referenced Nobel Peace Prize Co-Laureate Leymah Gbowee when she made this exact statement whilst addressing attendees at the Kofi Annan Eminent Speakers’ Lecture convened by the African Development Institute in Abidjan.
The clapping and shouting in the hall went for long and the smiles on the faces of our female counterparts were really and distinctly revealing as though they had discovered a valuable pot of ancient Egyptian treasure.
It was quite understandable, though. That was a very huge statement coming from an African politician - a male one as a matter of fact. As we rumbled through the activities of the week, it was easy for anyone to say "the future of Africa is FEMALE" - it became a recitation like animals in Animal Farm would recite "Four legs good, two legs bad".
So, like many other young men, though not a typical feminist, I too have joined the call to make the Future of Africa the Face of Female.
It is so easy to say, just like struggling animals who yearned for liberation would often jump at singing the "Beast of England" in that beautiful novella written by George Orwell. Notwithstanding, one needs to also be very Socratic enough to know how shifting the face of Africa from a patriarchal society to making it the face of females is going to take place.
Nothing comes easy, they say. Therefore, it's safe to say that the future of Africa will NEVER be Female when young ladies who should be busy themselves equipping their minds for tomorrow are only calculating how they can obtain iPhone 13 through whatever unorthodox means.
Nope! The face of Africa CANNOT be female when, instead of pushing for better opportunities, young women only care about material gains and how they can show up at every party to chase bottles of alcohol all in the name of "Slaying". No disrespect but the future of Africa cannot and must never be promised to "Slay Queens". E choke?
Women, especially the young ones need to know that this isn't something that will be achieved on a silver platter. No! Not in a society where the pulpit is used as a sophisticated religious weapon to make women feel so inferior. And certainly, not in a society where cultural and traditional norms have restricted the role of a woman so much even if she beams with enough potential and energy. With these restrictive and patriarchal gender norms, backed by religious extremism, it is my hope that young women are beginning to brace themselves for an uphill battle.
I call this an "uphill battle" because it requires every preparation needed to be able to compete with men and have a very STRATEGIC SEAT at the table of decision-making.
Without delay, that preparation of Africa's transformation should start now and not tomorrow! When I say now I mean TODAY!! I want to see a generation of powerful African ladies that will INSPIRE my unborn daughter "ANDRA" when she shall have appeared in the future not too far. I want my daughter to meet an Africa where one walks in a Board meeting of a corporation and it's not the presence of a single female being smashed by the huge visibility of powerful men.
I want my daughter to meet a generation of African women who will fight for equal or more participation in governance and not the one that will be pleading for an infinitesimal 30%. I'm talking about an Africa where women are not just reduced to tellers positions at financial institutions but rather senior managerial positions. I mean an Africa where female participation in political institutions will not be limited to women wings and girls brigades.
As difficult as the transition or rebranding may be, there are powerful young women who inspire hope that yes, this is achievable.
The week-long training event at Bella Casa showed that there are young and brilliant females who are sacrificing their everything to change the narrative. I'm very glad to have crossed paths with them. It's my hope that other young women will walk in the footpaths of these inspiring female gladiators and start to twist the narratives in a more positive direction.
For the future of Africa to be female, it requires CONCERTED efforts of women and not a minute portion of them. Women should demonstrate the willingness at all times to step up to the occasion and try something new. Even if men give women all the needed support, it deeply depends on women themselves to effect the change they so desperately want to see.
A very big thank you to all the ladies whose photos are attached herewith, including those whose photos I couldn't get hold of. Thank you! Keep inspiring your generation so that together all of you can inspire the future generation of girls thru which my daughter ANDRA is expected to come
Young Political Leadership School Africa, thank you for the opportunity and for setting the pace for these ladies to blossom into great Changemakers.