Yiaga Africa Raises New Cohorts of Young Mobilizers To Enhance Leadership in West Africa
Yiaga Africa is aiming to tackle the leadership challenge prevalent in developing countries through its Community Organizing Institute which is grooming and training a new crop of rising young leaders.
The Community Organizing Institute which was organized with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) took place from 9-12th May with 40 participants under the age of 30 drawn from Nigeria, The Gambia, Liberia, Cameroon and Ghana.
Through training them to be agents of change that will mobilize and inspire positive movements in their communities, these participants who are civic actors, community mobilizers and young members of political parties will be able to address one of the major challenges identified as stunting the development of their countries.
The Institute whose curriculum is built on a leadership training module of the Harvard Kennedy School with local context infused into it also built their capacity to influence positive reforms at their community, state or national level.
In her opening remarks, the Director of Programmes at Yiaga Africa, Cynthia Mbamalu, congratulated the participants on their selection out of hundreds of applications.
She said, “All of you are under 30. We are conscious of your importance and hope to build your capacity to lead movements in your communities either within political parties, start some reforms or support youth candidates in their parties or those in the civic space. You can also engage on issues around health, climate change, and education.”
She noted that self reflection is a huge part of the Community Organizing Institute, because when leaders often reflect on themselves, who they are and their values, they are able to understand their purpose and what they ought to offer to those they serve, which is the citizenry.
“If you don’t have leaders who know who they are, who don’t have the identity to know what it takes to be a leader, they can fall for anything. It means they will not connect with their people. It means whatever comes, they can shift groups at any time because they don’t have values that guide them,” she explains.
She further reiterated the importance of leaders getting training for themselves and for others. She enjoined the participants to have a role model, but only pick what they like about the person because while it is important to learn from others, a leader must own and understand their own personality.
“At the core of ideal leadership, we should have values, people, purpose, responsiveness, empathy and positive change. Leadership without values cannot produce good results", she said.
Also speaking, Programme Manager, Governance and Development Yiaga Africa, Ibrahim Faruk, said the Community Organising Institute has been training agents of change for the past eight years noting that the aim of the institute is to engage with the young people that are community organizers.
“Our focus is on young leaders. We bring community organizers here to network and expose them to principles around organizing, leadership and other issues in the community. We are looking for leaders who are passionate, who are thinkers and who believe they have the power to effect change in the community and at the time they occupy the world”, he noted.
The training included numerous reflection sessions around movement-building, leadership, organizing strategy and democracy building. There were also group sessions where participants were tasked to brainstorm on how to organize to mobilize voter registration in their communities.
The training ended with a voter mobilization outreach where the participants went into neighborhoods of Abuja to mobilize and sensitize eligible voters on the ongoing Continuous Voter Registration.