At the recently concluded #YouthConnektSummit at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda, youths from across the world gathered to grace this year’s conference themed: From Potential to Success.
A big percentage of the youths in attendance expressed disgruntled remarks about their governments not being a helpful factor in supporting their innovations, ideas and projects. They argued that in the end, this has scored-up the number of the unemployed.
The panelist that fervently answered this query was celebrated musician Akon, who got onto the stage amidst ululations, thunderous clapping and excitement. This Plenary session was the YouthConnekt Bridges: Diaspora, the 6th Region. In all honesty, I haven’t been keen to follow up on Akon’s expedites since his hit song “Lonely”. Therefore as the commotion escalated, with youths adjusting their zoom functions on their smart phones to have Akon appear in the same picture with them, while others stood up to have a good view of the legendary musician, now turned business man promenade his way into the room followed by a group of more panelists, I sat still wondering what he would say, would he be singing, rapping or whot?!!!
*I am quite sure the majority of the screams he got were because these youths loved him and what they had come to know about him—his music.
Therefore when Akon began to speak, not only were there audible sighs but unbelievable hand-claps… He ignited a listening silence within the complex from both the panelists and over 3000 youths in attendance.
Here are some of my take-aways from what Akon said at the #YouthConnektAfrica summit.
“We (the youth) have to be the driving force to rebuild Africa. We cannot depend on governments to do it for us. Their job is to lay down the framework and make sure that there’s accountability for the things that we do,” he said.
“When I was growing as an entertainer, I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to be remembered for just singing and dancing.’ I had to figure out what I can do that will help create a legacy. It hit me in the middle of the first song when there was a sudden black-out,” Akon said while narrating how he came up with the idea of his solar company to power Africa.
Akon further said that Africa has a lot of potential now than ever before. “Not many black Americans wanted to be associated with Africa. You would ask one of them; Yo brother what country in Africa do you come from? and he would go like, No man, I don’t even know where that(Africa) is. However right now many black brothers are willing to speak about their African roots. That can only mean that whatever is coming out of Africa is worth identifying with.”
In regard to funding, Akon advised youths to be aware of what needs their projects shall fulfill before they seek funding. He emphasized this with examples of how he spent a great deal of time searching for funders, and all the while he was rejected until China believed in his proposal plans.
When he was through, I was charmed. You could sit through an entire five hours listening to Akon, he has intelligent ideas and execution plans. He said that what Africa needed now more than ever was unity and that if it were upto him, the continent would be “The United States of Africa.”
We have the obligation to change Africa and the strength is on the inside of us. The better we start to feel about Africa, the more it shall become contagious else where. “We have the power to decide what the rest of the world should know about us, on our terms. We need more stories of heroism told about Africa and that is our collective responsibility.”
Here is a snippet of what he said–>