Fikemi Aiyepeku. Rutendo Njawaya. Tania Twinoburyo. These are but a few names behind the Administration department of ALAMAU 2019. But what is most interesting about their team is that it is fully comprised of females. For our Women: the Hands that Hold Africa’s Future series, we caught up with three of the members to ask them what it means to be a female in this day and age.
1) Tell us about what you do and what you love most about your job. I am the Director of Administration for ALAMAU. I administer fluid communication between the ALAMAU 2019 team and the schools/ delegates. I also adequately prepare the team to receive the right calibre of delegates and advisors when they arrive through logistics e.g. through efficient transportation systems. I also aim to ensure that the number of prospective schools for the conference is larger and more diverse than the previous conferences.
My favourite part of my job is learning how critically pay attention to detail. My job requires knowing a lot of information from a lot of different people and schools, as well as tracking this information. This attention to detail is key and I love what I am learning through it.
2) How do you think the roles women play are diversifying in the world? The role of women is breaking out of the stereotypical “homely” one and this is so important in diversifying the world because women have so much potential, strength, and influence that without them, the world will not be where it is today. Women being able to step out and take leadership positions by the horn, not to mention succeeding at it, clearly proves that women and the path they advocate for – unity, peace and progress – could and should be the future.
3) Your favourite hobbies? I enjoy watching Trevor Noah, listening to smooth jazz and catching up with friends when I’m not sleeping, reading trivia or watching movies.
1) Tell us what your role is and what you love about it. I am Rutendo Munetsitsi Charmaine Njawaya and I am the Associate Director of Administration. My job is to find and recruit talented and deserving students from all over the world to come to the ALAMAU conference.
2) How does it feel to be in an all-female team and what lessons have you learnt? I don’t think that the fact that we’re all females affects any aspect of our work. But I do believe that it is more of who we are as individuals. There are a lot of camaraderies that make meetings a whole lot more bearable. They have also taught me to be more compassionate, not afraid to ask for help and not embarrassed to admit that I can’t do something.
3) A place you want to travel to in the near future? I would LOVE to go to Bali. It’s gorgeous and I feel so connected to it. I must have lived there in my previous life.
1) What challenges have you faced in your role and how did you overcome them?
Getting people to read and respond to our emails was definitely a challenge. We use MailChimp to send out all emails to our prospective delegates. Through this software, I am able to see who is opening our emails and what buttons they are pressing (called their click rate). We were sitting on a 45% click rate and I wanted to raise it to least 75%. I then had to think of new and innovative ways to get people to click and respond to our emails. I started making the email subjects more catchy, adding interesting quotes and pictures of our conference to get people to open our emails. And I must say, it worked well. Calling schools directly also helped us increase the click and open rates of our emails.
2) This month’s theme is “Women: the Hands that Hold Africa’s Future.” What does this mean to you and how would you like to make this a reality for Africans?
Living in a patriarchal society has resulted in women working harder than anyone else to get to where they need to. Women are constantly looked down on, yet people do not really understand the power that women hold. Women are not only the hands that hold Africa’s future but the power that builds generations. It was the Liberian women that liberated their country from the oppressive and subjugative rule of their ruthless former President. They also elected Africa’s first female leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, creating a milestone for women in leadership for our continent. Women have the power to do anything they set their mind to do. Therefore, empowerment of women begins by ending the comparison of women and men. We need to stop saying if men can do it, so can women. A woman does not need a man to quantify her worth: she is good enough. We need to look at women and remind them of their strength they have. This, I believe, is what you can do to empower yourself and all the women in the African continent.
3) Tell us something no-one knows about you but you would like the readers to know.
When I was 10 years old, my parents took me for vocal lessons but I still cannot sing till this day.
And there you have it. These young women are among the many women who are changing the face of gender roles not only on the African continent but in the world at large.
This marks the end of our series for this month. If you have anything to share on what you think it means to be a woman in this day and age, feel free to comment below!
Stay tuned for more updates and do follow us on our social media pages in the meantime!
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Written by Katai Mutale, Director of Press Corps for ALAMAU 2019
These were the potent and impelling words of current multi-award winning tennis player, Serena Williams as an 11-year-old aspiring athlete when asked who she would like to be like if she were a tennis player. Serena Williams is at the forefront of many inspiring female athletes and is an incredible role model to women across the world who wish to emulate the undaunted confidence, work ethic and resilience she exhibits in her industry.
For far too long, sports have been neglected in our society in favour of other fields of learning which are deemed “employable.” Sports have been and continue to be a vital form of social and cultural life. Sports are so much more than a form of expression: they reveal and embody one’s agency, socio-cultural life and generate a deeper engagement of the African peoples’ past, present and future be it locally, regionally or internationally. Sports has been a cultural activity that played an important role in Africa’s socio-historical cultural values and practices. Our grandparents, especially young girls in different African societies, were involved in their own kind of sport or physical activities. In rural areas, they would race to the river to fetch water and the one reached the well first and spilt the least water whilst drawing from the wells would emerge as the winner.
At the beginning of the year, we watched 23-year-old Nigerian footballer Asisat Oshoala being awarded the African Women’s Footballer of the Year award for the third time. Oshoala notes that “when you have this determination, and people see this determination in you, eventually they have no choice but to give you the support you need to get you where you want to go.” Oshoala recalls entering the world of sports by playing 6-aside football in an all-male team in Ikorodu, Nigeria to being named as Africa’s female footballer of the year for the third time.
Isabelle Sambou, a Senegalese freestyle wrestler and nine-time gold medalist, is changing the way female wrestling is viewed in Senegal by using her platform to encourage and empower young girls in Senegal to follow in her footsteps and reach their full potential.
These are but a few names of the women who are putting Africa on the map through their achievements in a variety of sports and have continued to pave the way for other young female athletes on the continent. It has been claimed that there is a lack of strong female athletic role models in the sports industry, particularly in African societies. But the success of female African athletes on a global platform, be it in football, swimming, or the Olympics, is enough evidence that the problem lies in the lack of exposure to these positive role models. While it is important to recognize the progress that has been made globally to date, it is necessary to point out that female participation in sport in African countries still remains a male-dominated field and there is still so much more that needs to be done.
As a young female athlete who plays soccer for one of the few all-female soccer teams in Kenya and comes from a background where sport to this day is still hegemonized by society, culture, religion and tradition, I believe that women still remain gravely underrepresented in all sports in the country. The lack of exposure in media, biased media representations of male and female sports, lack of adequate financial support and sponsorship into women’s sports, and the discrepancy in the wage gap, are just but a few of the innumerable obstacles women face in the industry that worsen the situation. These prevailing cultural ideals, practices accrediting female passivity and barriers prevent women from fully taking part in sports, despite them being the means of propulsion of social, political and economic development in Africa.
In the last Women’s Football World Cup, the total payout was 15 million USD whereas the Men’s Football World Cup was 576 million USD. Men have been involved in sports for a longer period than women and hence women are now trying to catch-up, more specifically in terms of roles or positions of leadership in sports. As of 2016, 22 women are active International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, making up only 24.4% of the members and 4 women (25%) as members of the Executive Board. This leaves us with one crucial question: what can be done differently to foster a sporting culture more conducive to the involvement of women?
Female participation in sports on the African continent is often viewed as a by-product of development, rather than a medium which can promote social inclusion and gender equality. Empowerment of women and girls as well as a means for young women in different African societies to play an intrinsic role in transforming the continent. Is sport primarily for men? The answer is a vehement No! Something that a lot of people do not realize is that sports create an enormous potency to generate social and economic change. Socially, it allows young girls and women, specifically in marginalized communities, to have possibilities they would otherwise not have had access to. In addition, the emancipatory power of sports breaks patterns that prevent women from taking part in sports in the first place by combatting the HIV pandemic, gender and sex-based violence, traditional practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriages and other social injustices. Involvement with sports is often viewed as a luxury endeavour rather than an essential foundation for developing strategies that can fuel sustainable development. Just as African women have become accomplished in fields that were once closed to them, such as science and politics, so is female engagement in sports a proxy for experiences other women have not actually lived.
There are numerous examples of resilient African sportswomen who have defied this narrative and proved that sports can be used as a tool for economic development by achieving success both on and off the pitch. One of them is Tegla Loroupe, a Kenyan long-distance runner and a three-time World Half-Marathon champion. Loroupe promotes social cohesion in her country through the “Tegla Loroupe Peace Foundation” which operates a primary school for students at risk of HIV/AIDS, FGM or becoming child soldiers in local conflicts.
A number of wide-ranging problems still contribute to the elusive parity between men and women at both grassroots and elite levels in regard to sports and the issue surrounding female participation in sports. Most, if not all of these problems, are linked to cultural norms. Sports in African societies has irrefutably remained a male-dominated industry which is why there is a need to develop a paradigm shift in our perception towards it. It is of utmost importance that a sporting culture is developed which will lead to the propagation of women and girls to fully participate in sport and become future athletes, sports coaches, and leaders in the sports industry. These women will show other young African women that they too can and should push beyond the artificial limits that have been placed on their potential.
Samantha Nyakundi is a 17-year-old first-year student at the African Leadership Academy from Kenya. She is a member of the International Relations Council, Debate and Girl Up Club. Samantha is passionate about the empowerment of young women and believes that sports can be used as a tool of emancipation for girls in her community. She also believes that sports can be used to positively change the existing notions and misconceptions about gender. Samantha is an avid reader of African fiction and has a passion for writing.
A ten-year-old child sat in front of a TV. A news reporter on a foreign TV channel reported atrocities. She saw dead people on familiar streets. She looked around and noticed that the doors of her house had been sealed for days. She heard her parents murmuring about an ‘uprising’. She didn’t understand what an uprising meant at the time or why her parents were murmuring in the first place.
But when I grew up, I found out that prior to 2011, the walls had ears.
“I will say to you once more, loud and clear: Do write on any subject you choose. There are no taboos except what is prohibited by law and press ethics” declared Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
However, human rights, freedom of speech, political opposition, mindful youth, civil society, dignity, and fair trials, were all ‘taboos’ for the 23-year-rule of Ben Ali.
Ironically, Tunisia goes far beyond those 23 years. In fact, Tunisia’s first documented history goes back 200,000 years to the Middle Stone Age. The biggest democracy in the Mediterranean and the Carthage 814 BC relied on an effective system of checks and balances that helped keep officials accountable. However, these systems changed as the years passed, leading to the revolution that would transform history.
In December 1983, the Tunisian people protested against a sudden 100% increase in the price of bread, an essential commodity in Tunisia.
The uprising that lasted about 2 months and 150 people lost their lives. People were just asking for bread, and they trusted that the government could do better by deliberately providing bread at lower prices. When the price of bread dropped again, people were mostly satisfied but only a few people questioned the weaknesses of policies that initially put the government in such a vulnerable position.
But the people still showed signs of revolt. In 2011, a man fearlessly held a baguette in the face of the armed militia on the Habib Bourguiba Avenue. Bread in the face of guns was a modern revival to the bread riots. Ironically, it was on a street named after the president whose government raised the bread price in 1983.
The Tunisians now hungered for something more than their bread: they hungered for their rights and freedom. The uprising was a message to the tyrants that they had exhausted their chances with patient people. It was a collective stance against a corrupt government that tortured, stole, oppressed and systematically impoverished Tunisians.
Prior to the revolution, fear was widespread and enrooted in our culture. A collective cognizance of government capabilities to commit atrocities towards someone found “guilty” of criticizing Ben Ali or his family was a key feature of the Tunisian society.
This paranoia dominated our lives to the utmost of personal levels, people were even afraid to speak about the president pejoratively in the privacy of their homes because “they could always hear”. The media was censored, books banned, the internet was heavily filtered, and cyber activists were shadily arrested and unfairly prosecuted. The Freedom House registered these human rights violations and scored Tunisia’s political rights index as low as 7, with 1 being the best and 7 being the worst. Those numbers accurately summarized the situation of a country which has been ruled by a monstrous dictator. Those figures embodied the people who helplessly died suffering from torture in obscure dungeons and prison cells. They explicitly narrate the stories of hundreds of Tunisians who had undergone exile, imprisonment and assassinations.
Information is always valuable and anterior to the revolution, it became public knowledge that “the family”, —Ben Ali’s extended family— was taking over private possessions by force. The family was so powerful that nobody could claim their property back. However, the public couldn’t quantify the thefts and the human rights violations and that’s when Wikileaks caught the public attention and triggered the crowds when they published documents exposing the government.
Desperation dominated the lives of many people. The harsh reality of poverty was lived by thousands, especially those in interior states. Each family that underwent hardships and were forcefully incorporated into a merciless and systematic chain of underdevelopment, initiated by numerous historical factors. One of those rings was Bouazizi, a street vendor from Sidi Bouzid, who on December 17th, 2010, set himself on fire.
Bouazizi immolated himself as an act of desperation after being slapped and humiliated by Faida Hamdi and her coworkers, the municipal officials for vending on the streets. Bouazizi who would be posthumously awarded the Sakharov Prize for triggering the uprising. His self-immolation was a loud and clear call to action that echoed across the country and reached all doors. Subsequently, people across the nation went protesting against the tyrants and the illusion of having laws that ideally would protect the vulnerable. Even though Bouazizi passed away in the intensive care unit 18 days after his immolation, on January 4th 2011, he was the face of many Tunisians who lived in constant economic instability. And shortly before setting himself on fire, he asked how he could make a living when corruption and nepotism were eating the country inside out.
الشعب يريد اسقاط النظام” — “The people want to overthrow the regime.”The slogan echoed through Tunisian streets during the uprising and neither the tear gas nor the penetrating bullets could stop the anger. They fueled the rage and gave the people more reasons for wanting to overthrow the regime.
The loudness of the streets contrasted the silence of the domestic media, still burdened with the heavy load of censorship. People turned to the international media to see what was happening in other parts of their own country. Despite my young age, I was still able to see the irony in this, and it didn’t feel right to see that the Tunisian history was being recorded by other than Tunisians.
As a child, I was still able to identify the greatness in what was happening around me, and I was aware that nothing will be the same in just a few weeks. I jotted down numbers, dates, media headlines and what I was seeing on the streets.
Every Tunisian contributed to the revolution somehow, and as a child, documenting was how I connected with the call for freedom. For others, music and art was their medium of expression.
Emotions were translated into an international language set to trigger any human being’s first instincts. Out of the crowds, “Kelmti Horra” —My word is free—was born. In the song, young Emel Mathlouthi speaks for the people to the people of Tunisia and the world. The song powerfully and beautifully articulated the message of the uprising
Finally, on 13th of January, 2011, the dictator delivered a speech. The local media were obviously no longer silent. Ben Ali spoke to the people in Tunisian Arabic, the national dialect that is nationally and informally used. The dictator thought that speaking in the same language as the slogans would be water to the tension in the country. However, Bouazizi’s fire and the people’s flame weren’t going to be put down by phoney speeches and manipulative linguistics. And unexpectedly, this appropriation ignited more resistance.
Tunisians were armed with a stronger collective resilience that extracted its power from information, empathy and patriotism. People remained on the streets and mastered a harmony of “Dégage! Dégage” meaning “Leave! Leave!”. And the next day, January 14th, 2011, Ben Ali left the presidential palace in Carthage with his wife Leila Trabelsi and their three children along with the 23 years of dictatorship. The dictator and his family were denied to land in France. However, Saudi Arabia gave them political asylum and they landed in Jeddah, the city infamously known for welcoming another dictator who fled from Uganda.
With his departure, Tunisia sighed with relief.We were freed from the 23-year-old burden. People celebrated the long-awaited falling of kleptocracy and dictatorship on the streets. It was our triumph. The regime was not overthrown by the military, but by the invincible will of Tunisians.
Our uprising sent out a clear message to the world: In the face of the bullets with the dignified power of posters and slogans, the voice of the Tunisians was able to beautifully metamorphose into “The Revolution” that eventually would be called the “Jasmine Revolution”. The world resonated with the victory, and people in other countries angrily started shouting the same exact slogans of discontentment. The “Jasmine Revolution” quickly became the world’s fight against worn-out regimes. It reached all sorts of regimes and dictatorships as far as Egypt or China.
Today, Tunisians are about to celebrate the Revolution’s 8th anniversary. The country took time to be reshaped into what we know today: the only Arab country to be free. Despite the relatively short period, Tunisia witnessed tremendous accomplishments. In 2014, the world observed and praised as we conducted our very first democratic elections, after which a new National Constituent Assembly was formed to draft the new constitution of Tunisia that was adopted on January 26th 2014.
Tunisia sparked the Arab Spring, inspiring change across the MENA Region.
Unfortunately, we are so far the only country that achieved peace, freedom and democracy. And in 2015, the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts of unification and preventing the adverse effects and repression as seen in countries like Syria and Egypt.
Realistically speaking, Tunisia has most definitely achieved democracy. But, the economic challenges are still underway, unemployment is still menacing the economic stability of many Tunisians and basic needs of many families are barely met due to the relatively high cost of living. The dinar recorded a historical regression in comparison to the Euro and the US dollar. But Tunisia could have never achieved such a relatively fast transition without an uprising. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to revolutionize our thinking and the way we viewed and interacted with the concept of power.
Today, Tunisians face the ultimate challenge of staying on the right track towards the betterment of the economy and the safeguarding of freedoms and democracy. If we don’t, the revolution would go to waste and the people who have been sacrificed by the system would have died in vain. We are also challenged with helping humanity remember the uprising that reshaped the MENA region and the world forever.
The question of how we will sustain the message which awakened the region from the deep slumber of dictatorship still remains relevant.
However, a very valid question that remains is this: could the Tunisian revolution have sparked uprisings in other African countries other than the Arab ones that remain burdened with a dictatorship?
Edited by Katai Lutanda Mutale
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All the pillars of South Africa’s Constitution stand on the firm foundation laid by thousands of brave men and women who gathered in Kliptown on the historical day of the 26th of June 1950. These women and men gathered to proclaim and pledge towards the South Africa that they would fight for. Some of the top declarations made on that day were, “The People Shall Share the County’s Wealth” and “The Land Shall Be Shared Amongst Those That Work It”. The ideals of these women and men still represent the shared vision of all South Africans today and explains why the cup of the Freedom Charter was simply poured into what became the Constitution of the Rainbow Nation when it was adopted by the first democratically elected government.
Many previously oppressed South Africans woke up on the early morning of the 27th of April 1994 to cheerfully stand in long queues so they may vote for the very first democratic government. A lot of them cast their very first vote with the image of a new dawn for their country in mind; a Rainbow Nation, where they would get what was refused to them by the cruel and unjust apartheid regime. Although South Africa has made great strides in progressing social, judicial and economic structures, very little has been done to heal the scars left by the deliberate economic injustice of apartheid. This is most evident when the matter of land ownership in South Africa is brought up. The most recent land audit by the Ministry of Rural Development of South Africa revealed that of all privately owned land, over 80% of it is owned by white people. This, put into retrospect means that the non-white community, which constitutes about 90% of South Africa’s population owns just below 20% of the privately owned land in this country. These figures sound ridiculous until we take a little dive into historical archives and discover the Native Land Act of 1913. This act was the first step in the establishment of systems that prevented non-white South Africans from actively partaking in economic development through usage of land. It paved the path for the ultimate dispossession of many South Africans by restricting black land ownership (almost 90% of the population) to only 10% of the nation’s land mass. In preceding years, historical phases like the Sophiatown forced removals and Group Areas Act of 1950 were displayed to the world by the unapologetically oppressive apartheid regime.
A few years ago, the most typical measure of South Africa’s still existent, racial inequality was poverty levels along the racial lines – with the black community generally falling below the poverty line. However, in 2013, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) immerged with the sole mission of “fighting for the economic emancipation of “African” people in South Africa”. The EFF quickly and surprisingly gained a lot of popularity amongst South Africans – particularly young South Africans. The political party built up the momentum that made “Expopriation of Land without Compensation” a conversation that could never be missed in political discussions all over the country. They managed to convince a large population of South Africans that the current land redress policies in the holy grail of this nation – the constitution – were not radical enough to fight for the rights of black people.
Quite a number of times in the two decades since South Africa become a democratic state, there were conversations about land reform however none were ever as publicly nationwide as this current one. Before we can understand why this conversation has become one of such public interest, we need to first understand what comprises of the political party that has advocated and championed for the expropriation of land without compensation. The current head of the EFF is a man who played massive roles in the removal of the past two presidents of South Africa from office. The executive committee also comprises of one of the top advocates who represented the Marikana workers (stood on the side of human rights and justice) during the Marikana Massacre Inquiries. Therefore, it makes sense that political organisations in this country needed to take the demands of the EFF for radical land reform policies that favoured black people seriously as they were getting thousands of South Africans to rally behind them. President Ramaphosa had a very unique and overwhelming challenge to face in the first few months as the new president of South Africa. He had to clean up after the former president Jacob Zuma while dealing with the mounting public pressure to form a stance on the very heated question of land.
The image of a South Africa that has its land and wealth fairly distributed as declared in our Freedom Charter is an ideal that sounds pleasant to many South Africans, especially those that have been dispossessed and oppressed by history. This is an ideal that most South Africans hope to live to see and will be the ultimate proof that this beautiful nation has finally managed to truly end segregation and blur racial lines with regards to economic emancipation, that the wounds left by apartheid will be healed. This is the beautiful dream that the EFF is fighting towards. According to the EFF, all privately owned land in South Africa should be state-owned. All of it, taken without compensation to the current owners. This land will then be leased by the government to anyone who has the best intentions for the usage of the land for a period of 25 years. The lease will be reinstated after the 25 years should the user continue to find use for the land. The manifestos of the EFF state that the political party is fighting for the economic emancipation of black people from the tight grasp of neo-colonialism. However, if land is leased to the most competent users of it, the white minority that has had lifetimes of experience using the land will most likely be able to keep the land while the black, inexperienced community stays with no land. Again, the EFF claims that land should be owned by “the African people”. This is a bit contradictory to their intentions of land expropriation because land owned by the state means “the African people”, as the EFF would say, stay landless!
The fears voiced by many experts are that the idea behind land expropriation without compensation is not entirely clear. No one really knows what part of the land will be expropriated, who it will be expropriated to and how it will be expropriated. The President of the EFF, Julius Malema, was quoted saying that South Africans should simply “occupy the land” they want to be in. Since then, a few incidences of attempted ‘land grabs’ have occurred. The other fear is based on a reflection from lessons of history. A quick backtrack to the year 2000 in the neighbouring nation of Zimbabwe sets a frightening yet possible course of events for the Republic of South Africa should our government fall into the “radical” rush of land expropriation. Zimbabwe’s hasty attempt to reclaim ownership of land and award it to the black community proved to be a fatal blow to the country’s economy which has been in a state of instability ever since.
Why did the attempt to expropriate land fail in Zimbabwe? The first reason is because country had no clear plan. The community of Zimbabweans that were being offered this land had absolutely no means to use it in ways that would greatly benefit the economy. Secondly, by offering the land to a specific group of people and cutting off the opportunity for another group of people, Zimbabwe alienated itself from the global diplomatic spheres and was thus a sole actor in a global ecosystem that can only work through collaboration.
Now back to South Africa in 2018 – where does this land expropriation without compensation position the Republic of South Africa within the global diplomatic spheres? The simple response to that can be found on twitter. The current president of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, took a stab on the not-so-factual news reports that this subject is causing. The international community is viewing South Africa’s land expropriation without compensation conversation as a tactic against white land owners in South Africa. Donald Trump referenced the alleged killings of white farmers in his reaction to what is happening in South Africa. What stands to be a more important international relations concern which is based on very factual information, unlike what President Trump refers to, is the issue of property rights infringement that this “radical policy” stand causes. Major investors in South Africa’s land activities such as agriculture are at a position of uncertainty which is having a negative effect on the country’s currency. Potential investors are becoming more and more reluctant in investing in the purchase of South African land for economic development purposes because the law could change any moment and revoke them of their ownership.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Republic of South Africa needs to come to a point where the unequal ownership of land that is due to an unjust history is eradicated. However, this cannot be done with the proposed land expropriation policy in its current form. There still needs to be a lot of conversation around how the land will be distributed in a way that most importantly does not infringe on the rights currently stipulated in the Constitution and does not favour one group of people over the other like apartheid did. The line between progressive restructuring of society and emotionally driven reverse racism is very thin, South Africa needs to thread carefully before we fall onto the same path that our neighbour Zimbabwe walks on today.
Article edited by : Moitse Kemelo Moatshe
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“Houcine Jedli, ALAMAU 2019 Committee Chairperson of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, tells us more about his passion for International Relations, his experience at Harvard Model United Nations 2018 Conference, as well as Economic Integration in the continent and its contributions to Pan-Africanism.
Please tell us who Houcine Jedli is, where he is from and what are the experiences that have shaped you to be who you are today?
My name is Houcine Jedli, originally from the small town of Kasserine in the west of Tunisia. Every experience in my life changed the course of my life. I’ve had a variety of experiences in technology and business mainly from developing products to founding startups. All these experiences have helped me enhance my hard and soft skills. The most influential experience in my life is probably growing up with the greatest mother ever who helped me build confidence, resilience, and courage at a young age. If you are reading this, thanks mom!
When did you realize that you are interested in International Relations?
International Relations wasn’t something I thought I’d be interested in. I am not someone who’s passionate about following protocols and writing long pages of regulations and treaties. However, in the last few years, as I started to link the dots, I found out that international relations does, to a certain extent, influence all aspects of our lives: the countries we can visit, the prices of commodities and services, the technology that’s being developed, and even the lives of people we know and care about. The fact that International Relations can touch on a variety of elements all at once is what brought me to International Relations and brought to me the belief that there’s a space for everyone in International Relations regardless of their interests.
Tell us a little bit more about your experience at Harvard Model United Nations 2018 conference. What are some of the insights and knowledge that you gained from the conference?
Harvard MUN was a phenomenal experience! 3000 competitive students from the four corners of the planet gathering together to suggest solutions for world issues. As the representative of Equatorial Guinea, I was able to develop diplomatic argumentation that takes into consideration both the reality and the aspiration. Harvard MUN was also a great experience in understanding people and behavior: Being able to understand the motives every nation has helped me develop my communication skills in my daily life. Harvard MUN helped me realize the importance of every single detail in the work you do and the implications it may have on the bigger picture.
What is the work that you do now for ALAMAU 2019?
After serving as Deputy Chair for New Partnership for Africa’s Development in ALAMAU 2018, I am currently chairing the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa which we will be discussing the Enhancement of Intra-continental Trade to Ensure Economic Integration. What I do consists mainly of preparing the study guide for my delegates through massive research on the problems and the opportunities our continent has with regards to trade. I also receive and offer feedback from the other committees’ chairpersons which helps us develop better ideas and improve the quality of our study guides.
Being a committee chairperson has been an excellent learning experience! Being able to develop research skills while discovering a topic that I am incredibly passionate about has been a pleasure. This is also contributing to my growth by allowing space for both individual and teamwork at the same time. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank every member of the research team of ALAMAU who has been making tremendous efforts to ensure the quality of the work we provide.
Please share a little bit with us about the topic you are working on for the ALAMAU 2019 conference.
a) What inspired you to delve into this area of research?
What I find interesting about Africa is that it’s the wealthiest continent, yet the poorest continent. The resources available on this land is used in the manufacturing of most high-tech products we use; yet, the infrastructure is not good, and diseases still continue to spread. This irrational contradiction wasn’t the case in one country but almost every country which made it seem more of a systematic problem than a national issue. This aroused my curiosity to examine carefully the issues and the mechanisms in place that led to unexpected consequences.
b) How do you think Pan-Africanism and Economic Integration and Intra-Continental Trade are related (directly or indirectly)?
Pan-Africanism can’t be complete without an economic integration in the continent. If a large number of African countries still trade with their colonizers more than their African neighbors, we have a problem. Unifying the African market will facilitate the growth of businesses and the share of prosperity all over the continent. A full economic integration will allow African goods to be cheaper for African companies and African consumers. Every African will be able to enter every African country, from Cape to Cairo, without a passport.
Do you have any piece of advice to our ALAMAU 2019 delegates in terms of getting prepared for the conference and research?
The research team has been working very hard to ensure the quality of the study guides to make sure you guys have a great learning experience so please make sure you read them. I can’t emphasize this enough! If you don’t, you will sit there for hours not knowing what’s going on and you won’t be able to represent your country or to participate constructively in the debate. There shouldn’t be any excuses for not preparing for the conference!
Also, prepare to deliver your speeches, to respond to questions and get ready to impress other delegates with your eloquence and your arguments.
Article edited by: Moitse Kemelo Moatshe
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You have probably come across this term whilst scrolling through your news feed on social media. This term also features a lot in the discourses of Africans, young and old, in the continent and in the diaspora and is slowly is gaining popularity.
African Renaissance seeks to answer these two popular questions: How do we reclaim and solidify our African identity as well as improve and develop different sectors of the continent to create African prosperity? And: How do we revive and embrace diverse African cultures and in the process use them to advance the continent and change its narrative? In this article, I will be going in depth to find out what this means for us today.
It goes without saying that the narrative that has often been associated with Africa (especially by the western world) has been one of doom and gloom. It’s always about the wars, the poverty, the alarming illiteracy rates, the economic corruption and leaders who fail to be accountable to their citizens.
When Cheikh Anta Diop first coined and pioneered the concept of “African Renaissance”, he addressed the fact that Africa wouldneed to revive its languages and cultures, develop its political structures and ideologies as well as reach economic independence in order to attain prosperity. It is the concept of “African Renaissance” that looks at the potential of the continent and declares that with the right mindset, vision and outlook, Africa can and will revitalize its structures and systems in order to create opportunity for all, and positively change her narrative.
Former President of the Republic of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, later on popularized this concept, reiterating the fact that Africa must reach a point of restoration i.e. restoring our economic freedom and independence, as well as restoring our identities in order to build foundations for sustainable growth and success.
The underlying question in all of this is: how far have we already come as a continent as far as reaching the African Renaissance is concerned? How far are we in terms of attaining economic independence/freedom, reviving our cultures and languages and developing our political structures?
Even though countries in the continent have gained independence, Africa is still going through a period of neo-colonialism. A huge part of our culture, economy and political atmospheres are still under the influence of the western world.
Currently as it stands, Africa is still receiving financial aid/assistance from the western world. It is reported that in 2017, $45 billion of $75 billion allocated for the International Development Association was geared towards financing more than half of Sub-Saharan African countries. This is an indication that as a continent, we still haven’t reached financial self-sufficiency and freedom, despite being the richest continent in terms of natural and mineral resources.
Southern and East Africa still stand as the regions with the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in the world with an estimated number of 19.4 million people (as of 2016) living with HIV/AIDS in these two regions combined.
Close to 37 languages in the continent are close to extinction, and about 300 remain endangered. We can see from this that the preservation and advancement of our languages and cultures is something that the continent is still struggling with.
So, in many more ways than one, one could argue that perhaps we have not yet reached African Renaissance and that there are still persisting problems in the continent. To reach Diop and Mbeki’s vision of the restoration and renewal of Africa, we, the African youth, need to be taking up leadership roles and being in the forefront of driving and initiating change across all areas and sectors of the continent. These sectors being the judicial and policy-making sector, financial/economical sector, as well as the creative arts, languages and cultural sectors.
We need people from diverse backgrounds who are willing to synergize ideas, and come up with the best possible solutions to solve African problems from an Afro-centric point of view. We need to build African unity and have one voice, that way the continent can have much more power and influence in the international arena.
At ALAMAU, we realize and recognizethe power in bringing young people together to be a part of the restoration of the continent. We acknowledge the fact that the youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today, we are in our own way contributing to the renaissance of Africa through engaging young people in conversations affecting the continent.
The question that still remains is:
How and what will you contribute to the revival of the continent?
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Each new beginning brings new experiences, lessons and most importantly, people. With ALAMAU 2019 underway in a few months, we have had a few new additions to the team. One of them being our new research coordinator, Ms Maya Schkolne.
This week, Press Corps decided to catch up with Ms Maya to not only to know who she is but hear about her experiences, tips and advice for ALAMAU 2019 conference delegates (take note, delegates!). In this blog post, get ready to dive into Ms Maya’s incredible background, her sea of qualifications (there are a lot of them!) and also a wonderful tip at the end of the post!
1. Let us begin with the obvious but most important question: Who is Ms Maya? Please tell us a little bit more about yourself, where you grew up, and the experiences that have made you who you are today.
To begin, I would like to quote a line from the poem, Ulysses, that says: ‘I am a part of all that I have met’. I believe that encapsulates how I see myself: a person shaped by the amalgamation of people and experiences I have been so fortunate to meet and have.
My name is Maya Schkolne (the spelling is more challenging than the pronunciation, I guarantee!). I was born in Israel/Palestine and lived on a kibbutz – a socialist commune. I moved to South Africa with my family when I was young and grew up in the mountainous city of Cape Town.
It’s interesting to note that both my country of birth and country of residence are layered with human rights challenges and questions related to the creation of enduring peace and justice. With this in mind, I have aimed to engage with their political realities in both formal and informal civil society spaces. I have also tried to realise the notion of global solidarity by gaining a broader perspective of Africa, the Middle East, and the world. I have lived, studied in and done internships in different countries, most recently of which was the United Kingdom where I obtained my Masters in Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. I also interned at the connected Centre for the International Politics of Conflict, Rights and Justice in London.
Stepping outside of my comfort zone and developing new skills and longstanding partnerships through these experiences have undoubtedly made me a fuller person.
2. What is your role in MAU 2019?
I am the research coordinator. That means that alongside the Deputy Chair, I help support the ten committee chairs in developing their Study Guides, each of which delves into the topics that their committees will be focusing on.
3. Why did you choose to work for MAU 2019? What excites you about next year’s conference that made you say, “Yes I want to be a part of that team?”
Truth be told, I didn’t necessarily know that MAU would be a project that I would get involved in, to the extent that I have.
When I joined ALA in August 2017, MAU was introduced to me and it sounded both really exciting and at the same time really complicated! However, in time with the guidance of the brilliant MAU Program Director Mr Faith, I realised how much potential it has.
ALAMAU not only introduces young people to the very real and pressing issues facing our continent but also allows students to learn tangible skills that can be replicated in diplomacy and governance, including critical thinking, research, writing and public speaking skills, as well as project management and administration skills.
In terms of my role, it excites me that the research side of the project is expanding and we have made adjustments to accommodate it. For instance, previously, research students only had 60 minutes of class time a week to work on their research. Seeing that this was insufficient, we agreed to use full class time, to increase the quality of their work. We hope this model works effectively and can be used in the years to come. I am also excited for other new ideas to come to fruition, including the commitment from the Committee Dynamics team to preparing delegates and advisors for the conference in ways that we have never done before.
4. Where did your love for international relations begin? Is there any particular event in your life that sparked it?
I grew up interested in politics, believing that it has an effect on all of us, whether or not we choose to acknowledge that. This drove me to do a range of things that have expanded my interest in and understanding of international relations.
One of my first experiences was in Cordoba, Argentina. I went there on Rotary Exchange for a year straight after high school and studied journalism in Spanish. I was compelled to speak and read in Spanish! This was challenging as I had never received any formal training, but it also provided a more authentic lens into the formal and informal politics of the country and South America.
Further on in my life, I pursued politics in my tertiary studies. My studies in Spanish, Politics, Media Studies, and Environmental Science for my undergraduate degree at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Honours Degree in Transitional Justice and the part of Refugee Law all contributed to my growth in international relations.
Internships in places such as The Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) in Johannesburg and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Cape Town where I researched the role of civil society in Transitional Justice processes increased my knowledge on how international relations affect justice in our societies.
Not to forget hands-on experience with the people. For instance, I spent eighteen months at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel/Palestine, where young Israelis, Palestinians, and Internationals live together and study the conflict and trans-boundary environmental issues. This was a very impactful period of time for me, where I realised more deeply the effects that decisions by states have on everyday human experiences and the environment.
5. How has it been working with the Deputy Chairperson, the Committee Chairs and the Committee Dynamics team so far? Any challenges? Fulfilling moments?
As we know, ‘MAU is a huge project; it is one of ALA’s flagship programs, so there is a lot
of pressure to deliver high-quality work. In order to achieve our aims, challenges are inevitable! It was especially challenging to come up with the conference theme and thereafter to identify ten connected, current, pressing topics. Nevertheless, I feel incredibly confident in our Deputy Chairperson Moitse Moatshe, who has been 110% committed to her role!
Each of the Committee Chairs have their individual flair and passion, so I have really enjoyed getting to know them, and I’m also very happy that they’ve shown each other support and have viewed the process as a team effort. The Committee Dynamics team have also far surpassed my expectations and I am sure they will deliver a fantastic press core experience and will prepare everyone really well for the conference. Ultimately, I believe in all my students and gain genuine fulfilment from seeing them push themselves and grow through the process.
6. This year’s theme is “Leveraging Africa’s progress for Sustained Growth”. What conversations should the delegates look forward to having in committee sessions in this regard? (Perhaps, you could give us a sneak peek of topics featured in the next conference).
Last year’s conference was ‘Foundations for a Sustainable Future’, so this year takes it to the next level and not only asks where (in Africa) are clear problems that we can tackle and opportunities that we can harness, but where we can build progress on that which has already been made? There are so many exciting directions that this can take, which is why it was hard to narrow it down.
As such, you can expect timely and fascinating topics, ranging from fostering climate-resilience in Africa to improve food security; to enhancing intra-continental trade by building on the progress made so far by the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement; to improving maternal health through innovative solutions such as the Rwandan ‘RapidSMS’ system that connects community health workers to pregnant women.
7. Let’s break away from the formal conversation and learn a little bit about your preferences. Tell us, Tea or coffee? (Please give reasons why one over the other)
As my students will know, I am without a doubt a big coffee fan. I developed my appreciation for coffee from my father and love a strong, black Americano. I have however been trying to cut down, and in turn, have cultivated an appreciation for ginger tea 🙂
8. If you were to be a colour which one would you be and why?
I would like to think I would be lavender. Even though I don’t always feel it, people say I generally seem very calm. I think lavender is a gentle colour that exudes that sense.
9. A Quote that you live by…
This is an excerpt from a longer quote by author Arundhati Roy: “To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away.”
10. Final message to delegates, any research tips maybe?
Carefully read the Study Guides! If you know your content well, you will be able to speak with authority in the committee sessions and accordingly will stand outimmediately. Not only does this provide you with a competitive edge but it also makes the entire experience more fun: You don’t have to spend so much time figuring everything out; you can rather jump right in! While reading the Study Guides, if you have any question or confusion, please do reach out to the Committee Chairperson. They want to hear from you and it’s another definite way to indicate your eagerness. Also, take advantage of all the extra support that we want to give you in advance of the conference to get prepared. We want you to arrive on Day One and feel like an actual diplomat ready for a high stakes conference!
What wonderful words and sound advice from to end this blog post! Ms Maya and the entire team are certainly putting their best to make this conference more interactive, fun and above all, impactful.
With conference date drawing closer and closer, our registration deadline is drawing closer with it. Want to be a part of the ALAMAU experience? Here are some steps to get involved:
These are but a few words to describe ALAMAU 2019’s phenomenal Chairperson, Asha Guled. Assuming her role in March 2018, Asha has been hard at work to make the ALAMAU 2019 conference the best conference in its history. Last week, Press Corps decided to catch up with Ms Guled to find out more about who she is. Through 10 amazing questions, we aim to unveil who Asha really is, personally and professionally, as well as her dreams and aspirations for ALAMAU ahead.
1.Firstly, we would like to know: who is Asha Guled? Perhaps give us a little background information about yourself.
My name is Asha Guled and I’m a student at the African Leadership Academy, Chairperson of ALAMAU 2019 and a fun fact about me is that I stem from various backgrounds. I am most notably of Somali descent but born and raised in The Netherlands. I have also lived in Somalia, Kenya and the United Kingdom, and I currently reside in South Africa. My rich backgrounds have nurtured me to speak various languages and accommodate knowledge about numerous cultures and traditions. Apart from travelling, I also really enjoy being in the kitchen with my father, exploring fashion, and creating my own crafts.
2. Where did your love for International Relations begin and what inspired you to be a part of ALAMAU 2019?
I believe that my love for International Relations blossomed out of my interests in understanding systems. I’ve always been captivated by the how’s and why’s in our world, be it understanding the social structure of an ancient civilisation or figuring out why velour tracksuits were ever a thing (they never should be a thing!). Political systems seem to shape our livelihoods, our roles as citizens, and at times our values. I find this to be very intriguing, and so my love for International Relations and ALAMAU is largely inspired by my fascinations with the impact that it can have.
3) ALAMAU’s new theme has just been revealed. We want to know what progress you think that Africa has made so far? Also, how can we leverage from this progress so that we can create a sustained future?
Over the past decade, Africa has made notable strides in several sectors. Through the
implementation of sound financial policies, we’ve seen significant poverty reduction in countries such as Ethiopia and Rwanda. Politically, we have seen longstanding presidents resign and Kenya recently became the third country in the world, and the first in Africa to have a presidential election nullified. Quite evidently, some African countries have made great progress and they are taking the vital steps towards reaching the Africa we envision.
But to truly reach this vision, we need to all be able to go there together. This could be done by encouraging policies that are beneficial to numerous countries, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. The sharing of knowledge and resources can also greatly influence other countries’ progress, as we see with the Customs Union of the East African Community which encourages free trade zones in the region and encompasses various sectors such as health, customs and immigration and labour.
4. What can the delegates expect from the 2019 conference? What is different? What’s new?
In ALAMAU 2019, we expect to have more young leaders from Africa and across the world to join us for the conference, diversifying the opinions in our committees and broadening the networks that our participants get to create.
Delegates and advisors alike will encounter improved preparation programmes prior to the conference. Our Director of Delegation Preparation and Research and the research team at large have been working hard on redrafting delegate and advisor programmes to enhance their committee experience.
In ALAMAU 2018, we spoke of how we can build the foundations for a sustainable future. This year, the theme of ‘Leveraging Africa’s Progress for Sustained Growth’ shifts our focus from creating foundations to creating progress. We recognise the advancements that Africa has made, and will discuss how this progress needs to be leveraged and replicated to create concrete change.
Outside committee sessions, we should also expect to see a more intercontinentally diverse cultural night and a spectacular gala dinner, with a new theme!
These are but a few of the new things we should expect to see in ALAMAU 2019. Regardless, ALAMAU 2019 still promises to hold many fruitful conversations, memorable experiences and long lasting friendships.
5. Away from the formal conversation, we would like to know a few things you like to do. For instance, your favourite television show?
Breaking Bad has been one of the best series that I have gotten the chance to watch. The scripting is incredibly natural and relatable whilst the storyline always keeps you on your toes. Who doesn’t like hearing about a middle-aged high school teacher turned drug lord? I also enjoy watching Vikings because it visualises a folktale in an imaginative way with a captivating storyline.
6. Your favourite subject at school?
Despite the fact that I have chosen to drop this subject in my A-levels, history continues to be my favourite subject. It’s a tale of humankind, with different species, civilisations and cultures that existed and continue to exist. Although history favours those who write it, it still remains a field of study that allows us to identify patterns, and more importantly, it allows us to enter other worlds.
7. How about your favourite food?
Rice with banana. Before you judge me, you won’t know how amazing it tastes if you haven’t tried it!
Eating warm meals with banana is a common practice in Somalia. It provides the perfect balance between sweet and savoury, and it is a staple in every Somali household. No matter where I am, eating a warm meal like pasta or rice with banana immediately reminds me of home, and so it is easily my favourite meal.
8. If you were an animal you would be?…
A cheetah. I once had two pet cheetahs, Laila and Kays, and they taught me how gracious, caring and fierce cheetahs can be. They were both very much (eventually) liked by everyone they met. This is the type of character that Iwould also like to have: an individual who is bold and fast in achieving what she desires, whilst also getting along with those around her.
9. If you could choose one superpower, what would it be?
I’d choose to be mentiferous. Mentifery gives someone the power to turn their thoughts and imagination into reality. That way I’ll be able to think of ending world poverty, and it would end! I could also imagine eating an infinite supply of lasagna (my second favourite food), and afterwards, I could picture myself having a six-pack. Perfect!
10. A Piece of advice to the prospective ALAMAU 2019 delegates?
Having been to numerous MUN conferences around the world, I would argue that two main things are needed for you to have the best experience as a delegate: quality research and confidence. Scratching beyond the surface and researching past the headlines (and past the first link to Wikipedia), is essential if you want to understand your topic. This allows you to be flexible in the committee room and permits you to come up with thoughtful solutions. Considering that technology is not permitted in the committee rooms, I would also suggest that all your research is printed and organised in a file.
All of this information means nothing if you do not have the confidence to deliver it and deliver it well, so trust your abilities and you’ll see yourself performing superbly!
And there you have it. Sound, solid and bold words from our Chairperson to kick-start the excitement as ALAMAU 2019 begins to unfold. Surely, from the way things look, this conference is going to be beyond spectacular.
Be sure to check out more bi-weekly updates from this blog as we introduce new faces at ALAMAU and give an exclusive sneak-peak of the topics that will be discussed in this year’s conference.
Don’t forget to follow our social media platforms listed below for more exciting updates leading up to the conference.
Written by Katai Mutale, Director of Press Corps.
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By Moitse Kemelo Moatshe- Deputy Chairperson of ALAMAU 2019
It’s a new era and with every new era comes a new team and of course, an awesome theme.
In March 2018, we saw the close of our 5th Conference and the exit of the ALAMAU 2018 team. However, their exit did not stop the incoming team of fresh minds from diving into the hard work in making the next conference the best one yet.
As with every conference, we have an impactful theme to drive the discussions held within committee sessions.
During ALAMAU 2018, the discussions focused on how African countries can lay the right foundations to develop the continent and sustain the growth that will be achieved in the process.
With that in mind, and a few back-to-back meetings, our research team looked to answer the big question on everyone’s minds: What’s next?
Our aim for this year’s theme is look in depth of the events happening around the continent following the laying down of new foundations. The focus will be on the progress we made as a continent and how African states can use this to influence each other on the most pressing issues. The team also looked into whether we can use the growth to predict the future: how can we measure the growth we can attain through addressing these key issues?
Without further ado, it is my privilege to announce the theme of ALAMAU 2019.
*Drum roll please*
ALAMAU 2019: Leveraging Africa’s Progress for Sustained Growth
In the past decade, Africa has made some notable indications of improvement across various sectors. A good example is the strengthening of the intra-continental trade by drafting of the African Continental Free Trade Area already signed by 44 African countries on 21st March 2018. However, Africa is not only making waves economically but politically as well. In Botswana, youths are beginning to engage in policy making, democratic practices and governance. Recently, thirty-one-year-old Bogolo Kenewendo was appointed the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana, evidence of how the current generation is getting involved in African progress.
In ALAMAU 2019, the conversations will be centred on how Africa can use the progress it has previously made to improve other sectors.
The topics the conference will focus on are categorised into three main sectors: Economic Development, Social Welfare as well as Governance and Regulations. Our committee chairs are hard at work in researching to make them as engaging as possible.
Outside conference, please be sure to regularly check this blog bi-weekly for engaging posts that will give insight into conference preparation and the topics being discussed.
Also visit out our ALAMAU 2019 Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates.
As ALAMAU 2019, we welcome you to the Era. The era of Sustained Progress for Sustained Growth.
Moitse Kemelo Moatshe is a first year student at the African Leadership Academy. She is currently ALAMAU 2019’s Deputy Chairperson. In preparation for the conference, she will be heading the Committee Chairs team and the Committee Dynamics team as well as the Press Corps.
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Can you hear it? Can you feel it? It is the sound of joy and laughter. The wonderful giggles and chatters filling the room here to celebrate the things that bond us all together; our respective cultures.
It is no tale that culture is one of the most important aspects of Africa. We see it around us. From our foods to our merchandise and finally to our fabrics, there is something about African culture that screams out to all of us. To celebrate this culture the ALAMAU events team comprising of Naa Shome Burgesson and Oluwademilade Ayeye, put up a cultural night where delegates were required to dress their best traditional attire. indeed everyone looked beautiful. The night was full of wonderful bone cracking performances. The ALA students put up a play entitled ‘Behind the Necklace’. The play left everyone’s funny bones aching. Surely, it was an awesome performance.
The night was a magical night. Different cuisines were served and we were given the challenge to try something new. The food was absolutely amazing and left our taste buds tingling with excitement. The band played the night away. As the music softened the mood, the people began to mingle and minds began to relax away from the committee session debates they had that day. Representatives of opposing countries came together and simply had a good time with good music, good food and good vibes.