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.
The press conference commenced with the delegate from my assigned committee, the African Commission on Science and Technology. I asked my delegate representing the Republic of Senegal a few questions of my own, to which he responded decorously. He elaborated on Senegal’s perspective on Technological Innovation in Africa to which he stated:“Though it is very beneficial to the African Continent, it has its drawbacks too”. He further elaborated that, one of such issues was the issue of job insecurity. The improvements in technology consequently lead to an influx of individuals into the labour market. As technology optimises activities which can be done by humans, it makes the work of the labour force redundant in the society. Factors like the introduction of Bitcoin and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that would cause unemployment in various sectors of the economy; primary, secondary and tertiary.
In my opinion, technology was designed to make the work of humans less arduous. A wide range of tasks that seem burdensome to humans can now be done by machines. Subsequently, this cuts costs and increases production efficiency in the long-run, two goals firms and industries strive to attain. At this climax, unemployment becomes inevitable in the society. Throughout history, a lot of jobs have been phased out due to emerging technologies. This brings into question whether the degrees being attained by university students today will be useful after graduation. With the fast advancements in technology, will it be a waste of time for some graduates?
The questions that came about during the press conference only brought about more questions for myself and the audience that attended the session. With a maximum time of six minutes, it was quite difficult to effectively ask all these questions and holistically cover the perspective of technological innovation in Africa from the representative of Senegal. However, from the beginning to the end of the press conference, the diplomat gave me informative answers that left me even more curious than before. Even more, his confidence on his country’s stance on the topic complemented his words and statistics like a cherry on top of a cake. I look forward to reading the passed resolution on Sunday. Until then, keep learning and keep debating!
Written by Uduak-Abasi Bassey, South African Broadcasting Corporation
As the session began, the air was thick with anticipation in Lecture room 10. Tensions were high in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development committee room as the delegates prepared themselves to present their opening speeches. The delegates that stood out to me the most, however, were Kopala Kemgang the Delegate of Nigeria and Mtamanden Chatsala the Delegate of Rwanda. The Delegate of Rwanda spoke with poise and confidence as he took the stand. He started his opening with the phrase, “To solve a problem, you must know the root”. In the context of the committee, he alluded to the fact that in order to achieve gender equality in Africa we must figure out the reason behind this inequality to start with. Practices such as marrying off young girls in countries like Kenya has affected their economic capabilities because they drop out of school rather than pursue their career goals. This minimises the number of women in the income-generating activities.
On the other hand, the delegate of Nigeria was quite explosive unlike the delegate of Mauritania who came across as calm and soft-spoken. Her voice demanded attention while her words cut deep into the subconscious minds present. As she began her speech with the opening, “A woman is an asset that should be treasured”. Which already said enough in itself.
In closing, with the words of Kofi Atta Annan, “When women strive, all of society strives”. The goal for women to strive educationally across the continent is a grand essential for their empowerment. Without the freedom of education they would not be able to attain the skills needed to socially, politically, and economically develop our nation for the greater future.
The first conference session has finally begun at the Executive Council! All delegates, like a gang of meerkats, are tensed on their seats, minds processing the words spoken by the Deputy Chairperson as he explains the rules and procedures. Thus, planting the seed of fear into certain minds and creating a backbone of confidence in others. Delegates pray silently they make a great first impression.
Silence. Not a breeze comes from the mouths of the delegates as they think, and think endlessly about the committee’s topic: Bolstering Conflict Prevention Mechanisms to Tackle Legacies of Sectarian Violence. Wait, what is sectarian violence? A question each delegate asked themselves a month ago, when they sweat over their position papers. The Deputy Chairperson patiently explains it once again. Then the silence is shattered by a nervous addressing by the first spokesperson, the delegate of Guinea. Starting off shakily, while giving out the opening speech, the delegate of Guinea grasps confidence by its shoulders. And he starts smiling as he receives nods of acknowledgement from the rest of the committee. Then suddenly, like a beam of lightning, he is shot down by the delegate of South Africa. His smile vanishes. He takes a shuddering breath. The debates have begun!
In his opening remarks for the 5th session of the ALA
Model African Union, Mr Hatim Eltayeb, Dean of the African Leadership Academy, reflected on the significance of opening of the conference on the 58th anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre. On the 21st of March, South Africa commemorates the deaths of 69 unarmed protesters who lost their lives, along with over 180 others who were wounded in Sharpeville. This protest against the dompas–a booklet that prohibited the free movement of non-white South Africans–catalysed the fight for freedom and played a major role in eradicating division and racial disenfranchisement. If it were not for those brave souls, a gathering such as the ALAMAU would not be possible. At the opening ceremony, we acknowledged the sacrifice they made so that such a myriad of cultures, ethnicities, races and heritages could gather like we did tonight.
Human Rights Day is a step towards reconciliation. Reconciliation requires the acknowledgement of the pain of the past and this is done through days such these: by never forgetting those who gave up their lives so that we may live freely. Another vital aspect of reconciliation is celebration. The celebration of the prosperous future that is within our reach, of the lives we have, for the breath that we breathe. Life is a blessing to be celebrated. This is exactly what we experienced at the opening ceremony of the ALAMAU 2018. It was a celebration of life. The life that we get to live on this magnificent continent.
Moreover, many of the speakers emphasised the power of the youth. Mr Faith Abiodun, in particular, quoted from the walls of the African Leadership Academy, saying, “Young people can dream big and take action to change the world.” The future of the continent lies in the hands of the youth. This evening, over 250 delegates from around Africa, and the world gathered in a single room. That room was filled with impact waiting to happen. And everyone could feel it.
With less than 24 hours to go until ALAMAU 2018 conference, you can feel the buzz of anticipation from all members of staff. Emotions range from excitement all the way through to anxiousness for the upcoming five days. So what has the team been up to for the past five days you may wonder? Here is an exclusive snippet of what the team has been up to.
The Dynamics team and the Deputy Chairperson came together last Friday night, to discuss and brainstorm the proceedings of what ‘Crisis!’ will look like this year. By the end of the session, we could hardly see any white on the whiteboard! Watch out delegates, a crisis is coming your way!
The atmosphere was very warm and electric as the staff met for their last ‘All Staff’ meeting on Sunday afternoon. Emotions were high as the team watched a video sent from the ALAMAU 2017 team wishing them a successful conference. Followed by the opening of letters that the team wrote to themselves a year ago before the project started. Jokes were made, speeches were listened to and motivation was passed on from one member to another, as they all reflected on the year’s work and the work of the teams before them.
But what is happening as I type this exclusive update?
With approximately 21 hours to go until the conference, our Chairperson and Director-General work away to ensure that the last final touches are in place for the conference. There is a saying that goes, “Success is a result of hard work”. I think these two members of the core team bring a whole new definition of what hard work is.
The countdown continues and the hard work never stops! I hope you are ready for the conference because we are definitely ready for you!
Almost 2 weeks ago, 20 Year 1 Students (myself included), were integrated into the ALAMAU 2018 Staff and its respective committees for the upcoming conference this month. This was a remarkable day I could never forget. The cacophony of appraisals from the Director-General, Deputy Chairperson, Committee Chairpersons, Research, and Logistics Team from the call of my name as the new “Associate Director of The Press Corps Committee!”
The memorable day was followed by engaging quizzes, in which we were divided into teams while members of the Secretariat (Mubarak, Obakeng, and Trevor), asked trivia-based questions on the MAU systems, history and statistics. This taught me more about the dynamics of ALAMAU’s extensive committees to the discourse settings and how the MAU experience continues to change over the years like the aging of wine. For the upcoming conferences in March, I believe they would be nothing short of excellence from the extraordinary efforts put by the staff, delegates, and attendees.
Post-Staff Meeting, I explored the idea of bringing the personality of the MAU faces closer to the delegates and MAU through a close interview with the Director-General and the Deputy Chairperson, Momoko Mandere and Fridah Mbwaya. This opened up amazing insights into their eccentric personalities, and how co-operation, teamwork and crisis issues are dealt with within the debates.
Over the course of the weeks, I have been working closely with the Director of Press Corps 2018 herself, Miss Sandra Chipeta, in making the Press Corps Committee a more sustainable conduit for information for our 2018 delegates. This year, we have been working immensely hard on establishing articles that bring insight to ALAMAU through the lens of writers and editors. During the conference, we hope to get exceptional insights of MAU from the delegates as well. Till then, do the three R’s! Research your countries, Read Parliamentary Procedures and Read the Position Papers.
Written by Associate Director of Press Corps, Temilolu Olamide Awofeso