The Day I Switched Places With the Chair

By Ekow Bentsi-Enchill, Reuters correspondentSwitcharoo with the Chair.JPG

The Chairperson beckoned for me. Hesitantly, I sauntered towards the bench. I was
apprehensive, not knowing what to expect. My heart fluttered around in my chest like a butterfly, yet onwards I marched for lack of another option. She motioned for me to relinquish my camera, the very extension of my being, and reluctantly I handed it over.
“Had the profusion of clicks and flicks that emanated from my shutter angered her in some way?” Had I taken a picture I shouldn’t have?” She opened her mouth to speak. “Can I take a picture of you?” she inquired, and immediately my body warmed up, my disposition a metamorphosis from petrified to relieved. I graciously accepted and gave her a quick tutorial on the workings of the camera and the art of focusing, after which she offered me her chair! Latching onto the opportunity, I sat down with immediacy and offered her my Press Corps reflective vest. By now the blood coursing through my veins was at its hottest and at its fastest. Overwhelmed and overcome by the wealth of power bestowed upon me by the chair, I was hyperventilating. Trying to hide my utter and complete excitement, I obeyed her order to smile and flashed her my widest smile possible. Longing to stay put in the alluring chair, I stalled by looking away from the camera and succeeded in eliciting more time in the seat of glory. Nevertheless, as with all good things my few minutes of fame came to an end, and soon after I was back in my reflective gear, reunited with my camera and taking pictures.

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UNEXPECTED BONDS

By Kimanzi Rolaida, AllAfrica correspondent

When I was told that we were going for ALAMAU, I was excited but also scared because in order for me to work I have to be comfortable. I did not think that I would care for any of these press corps delegates the way I do now ;that’s because they are not only extremely weird but they are just lovable.

Kweku Appiah from Ghana, Katlego Paakanyo from Botswana, Ekow Bentsi-Enchill from Ghana, Jadini Nzomo from Kenya, Oyinkansola Kolawole from Nigeria, Abdul Abiru from Nigeria. (I still can’t say some of their names up to now). Of course there is Fred from Mozambique and Maeva from Ivory Coast. For a press corp team, we act more as a family and we accept one another which is something I foid beautiful.

I like the way we as humans don’t have control over the people that we meet because if we did I probably wouldn’t have met these kind and amazing people. I will forever be thankful to whatever force brought us together.

As ALAMAU 2017 comes to an end, I would like to thank every single person especially Fred Zucule for being a wonderful director and all the press corps for being playful yet serious.

I can never say thank you enough for this amazing experience because you have all made it worthwhile.

Sessions Can Make or Break You

By Ekow Bentsi-Enchill, Reuters correspondent

From what I have seen today, sessions are intense and unnerving for everybody. Even if you have spent months preparing for this moment, the chair, fellow delegates or even the flick of a shutter can erode your wall of confidence. The delegate of Mauritius, bombarded with question after question (coyly cloaked as points of information), soon began to falter in speech. But one delegate, the delegate of Rwanda, impressed me beyond measure, exhibiting the ability to keep cool as he locked horns with many delegates and emerged victorious.

He first pointed that a country’s main focus in the education sector should be primary education, as this caters to the largest pool of children. Immediately, he faced contention from the delegates of Kenya, Congo, Mauritius and Ivory Coast, yet he addressed each point of information and follow-up with relative ease. The delegate of Kenya felt that directing policies towards the primary education sector was farcical, but the delegate of Rwanda reduced his accusations to drivel with hard fact: using well-researched projections into Rwanda’s future. He used the same systematic method to undermine and debunk the assertions of the other delegates.

I want to encourage every delegate to express similar levels of self-confidence during session, no matter their level of preparation, as it garners the admiration of the general public and could lead to picking up awards. Let us try to remember that “action breeds confidence and courage” (Dale Carnegie), and thus in order to exhibit confidence we must take action.

Learning to keep a cool head in trying times is an essential skill to have in committee sessions, which tend to be tumultuous and daunting, and also for life.

LOOK COOL, ACT LIKE I AM NOT HERE!

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By Katlego Paakanyo, Daily Nation (Kenya)

In an attempt to make my photography appear as unplanned as possible, during break time I went around giving unsuspecting delegates the straightforward direction, “look cool, act like I am not here,” as I took pictures of them. In a crowd of more than 200 bright minds, there ought to be some exceptional responses.

My simple instruction was met with varied reactions, many of which were more whimsical than I could have anticipated, one delegate pausing with their hand raised mid-way in an attempt to recreate the legendary delegate pictures on the ALAMAU 2017 Study Guide. The fact that they were told to pretend there was no lens aiming to shoot at them, made it a lot more obvious that it was a staged photo.

What I found most fascinating about my little project was that although most times I arrived to find a group of delegates in mid-conversation, as soon as they were told to look cool and pretend there is no camera in front of them, they would, as if out of instinct, go on to craft a fake conversation! My immediate thought would be, ‘but you guys could have continued with what you were talking about!’ On another humorous encounter, my subjects, who had initially been speaking about their committee topic, initiated a conversation on a flower which happened to be conveniently situated in front of them.
This right here taught me the power of being genuine, the more I tried to get my fellow delegates to act in a certain way, the less genuine they felt and therefore appeared. Art is haphazard, the best thing about being an artist is you seldom have to explain your thoughts to anyone, splash paint on a canvas, organize a few words into a poem and leave it out there for the world to figure.

African Beauty

By Oyinkansola Kolawole, SABC correspondent

Western intervention has brought the deterioration of tradition. The ALAMAU promotes tradition by the dress code being formal with a touch of our traditional identities. The cultural night was a ground for participants to look best in their respective traditional regalia.

As the sun rises from the east and sets at the west, the brightness of Africa shines all round and we feel the warmth from its natural essence. Being different and united under the name Africa is a lifetime gift which can never be replaced. The love of Mother Africa can be compared to the rays of the golden sun.

African art is one of the broadest and unique types of art, being that every tribe has their specific type of art. The African woman exhibits the true culture and beauty of Africans. The pride of a woman is her dressing. Colours are embedded in our tradition and lifestyle. Use of traditional attires and materials should be promoted. I find it very encouraging as people have begun to embrace Ankara accessories.

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Unnoticed Disunity

By Rolaida Kimazi, AllAfrica correspondent

Funny how we as African countries claim to be united as one and yet in so many unnoticed situations, we leave our fellow African countries to tackle their own problems. Instead we could actively try to formulate committees that destroy this disunity and unite us.

Conference in SessionIn your head as you read this, you must be wondering why I am talking about disunity despite the existence of economic groups such as COMESA, amongst others, that trade together promoting unity. Countries like Uganda sent troops to Somalia during the war to help them fight and the examples go on, but where are African countries to help Nigeria as they are going through the Boko Haram crisis. Yes, the topic to help them out has been discussed by the African Union which shows that in some cases we are all talk but no action because no African country has actually offered any assistance.

We have unintentionally or intentionally isolated Nigeria as she goes through all this trauma and loss of life. Even though we as a continent want to develop as a whole, we have to realize that leaving behind one of the fastest growing economies will hold us back.

“Team work speeds up progress.” That quote should be a guideline for all African countries as we head towards progress. As soon as Boko Haram came up, troops and resources should have been sent in and this problem would have been eradicated so much faster. I strongly encourage the AU’s Peace and Security Council to formulate some strategy to help Nigeria out because whether we like it or not we are a continent and that means that unity should be a habit and not something we claim to have.

So this isn’t to say that we aren’t united but this is to say that honestly the small cases of disunity which go unnoticed should be fought against because that could be what’s holding back our progress. I also acknowledge the countries have been there for others like Uganda sending AMISOM troops.

If you have acted in some way which doesn’t show unity amongst yourselves, remember that not only does unity start with you but it also starts with turning over a new leaf and acting like well, UNITY itself.
AllAfrica honestly believes that full and maximum unity can be achieved if we just helped one another

Africa Rising

By Kweku Appiah, Al Jazeera correspondent

Mr Deprose Muchena’s speech filled the room with excitement, curiosity, desire and a true understanding of what is happening in Africa. Even though our keynote speaker barely graced the ongoing struggle in Africa, he did enlighten us enough to last us a generation but also left that void for us to fill our curiosity through research.

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Mr. Deprose Muchena

He is a human activist and a well-known troublemaker with a good sense of humour but don’t take him for a joker because when his towering voice fills the room there will be no jokes. He starts off by labeling Africa as the world’s fastest growing continent which sends a sense of confusion around the hall but justifies his statement with strong evidence that puts all doubts to bed. Then he goes on to explain to us that the way Africa is portrayed by the rest of the world isn’t what is really going on in our homeland. We have gold, timber, diamonds and anything the western civilization thinks they want. But none of these resources are used for our benefit. The strange thing is that this fault is only ours. We complain about corruption but when election time comes bribes go around and everyone is quiet. What we don’t realize is that we are destroying our economies, going against our values and putting ourselves in a self-dug hole. 

One example of this is in DRC. The Inga Dam is connected to one of the largest waterfalls in the world and has the capacity to power the whole of southern Africa but somehow there are villages in DRC that haven’t witnessed electricity since the dam was built. Some people can call this corruption and lies but I feel it’s self-poisoning because it’s killing the generation after us.  But luckily this generation is too strong and smart to be tricked by the lies and propaganda the government is feeding us. A quote from the book 1984 by George Orwell says ‘2+2=5.’ The government says all the nonsense it can find then publishes it for us to read. What has become of our homeland?

So can we take a step forward, for once, in this beautiful nation, (yes, I mean the NATION OF AFRICA), to work on making Africa rise? Mr Muchena says it starts with this conference with some of the most intelligent from Africa and the world coming together from all backgrounds, beliefs, religions. They are the key to fixing this beloved continent and world. This was the best way to introduce people to this conference. Mr Muchena deserves all the plaudits for his amazing speech.

It’s almost here…

12 days to ALAMAU 2017! Position papers and editorial articles have been submitted. They are currently being reviewed by committee chairs. I must say that the chairs are extremely happy with the received work and are eager to meet the people behind the papers they’ve read.

As the countdown continues, everyone is on overdrive as they prepare for the conference. Many are going out to buy new suits or dresses for the committee sessions, but don’t forget your traditional attire for the cultural night. Others are conducting more research to have a better grasp of their topic—it never hurts to sound smart when you’re presenting arguments.

Moreover, all the chairs are prepping for the experience that is to come. Our man behind the chair, Utani Hikuam, said, “I am meditating—getting myself mentally, intellectually and emotionally ready for the conference.” Sounds very deep, but I suppose this is necessary when one’s expecting heated arguments about sensitive topics. In addition, tons of practice and planning is going into making the cultural night and the gala dinner memorable events for all. So much is going into making this year’s conference a success.

With all of this said, how are you getting yourself ready for the conference?

Stay connected and watch out for more from the Press Corps.

By Director of Press Corps, Fred Zucule.

P.S. Don’t forget to order a bottle or a hoodie to remember this year’s conference.

Is Anyone Going to Talk About the Food?!

DSC_0241.JPGI would call myself a foodie but then again I also just love food—good food. For the past few meals at Glenburn Lodge, I have found myself constantly checking my watch in anticipation for lunch and dinner. Is it going to be chicken? How is it going to be prepared? Roasted maybe? Grilled?

The staff has been the most welcoming. They have made me feel like I am right at home, watching an episode of Suits with my feet stretched out on the table. Music that accompanies all meal times however makes it difficult to concentrate on my plate and I find myself having to decide whether I should stand up and shoki or just enjoy the leafy greens.

Can’t wait to see what’s in store for lunch later!

 

By Anonymous