By Ruth Aine
The MTN Group sponsored- One Young World Summit came to a conclusion in Johannesburg, the City of Gold and what a great affair it was. It was full of colour, music, and jubilation. It is the first time that an event of this kind has made its way to Africa. I was proudly sponsored by MTN to attend this summit.
It was heartwarming to be a part of this great movement; the kind that looks to bring positive change to the world. For a while the feelings were very hard to put into words. The deputy Mayor of the Johannesburg City started by saying that the city was elated to be able to showcase their investment in the youth and the future.
A group of prominent people gave their time and expertise to talk and share experiences with us, the young people. The Counsellors who spoke during the Opening Ceremony did so with so much passion and conviction. It was not just another United Nations assembly that Kofi Annan was addressing. He referred to us as leaders; leaders that need to take on the affairs of the world. In his remarks he said: “Together with your colleagues you embody the talent and energy that is driving change evolution around the world. The technology you use allows you to bridge boarders; national boarders no longer contain you. You think more deeply about the future. There is good reason for your generation to think deeply about the fate of our planet. If we continue to plunder it, it is your children that will have to pay the price. We need you to stir the present generation of leaders forward; we need you to accept the mantle of leadership to drive change and to remind us all that in a globalized world, we sink or swim together.”
Kofi Annan was not talking to us, the young people, as the rest of the world views us; the self-absorbed generation. He was addressing people who know what they want from life and aim to make a difference. His confidence in all of the young minds gathered in the stadium was reflected in his speech.
Muhammad Yunus is a Bangladeshi banker, economist and Noble Peace Prize winner. He spoke to us as well. When he stood up to speak, he admonished us to be the history that we want our children to know and learn about. Do not waste your power he said, “You are the most powerful kind of generation. Feel the power, it is in you. You are lucky because you are born in the age, where the impossible will become possible. Today each one of you is capable of changing the whole world. If you do not use your power, it will be wasted. Do not waste your power.”
He went on to share his experiences with us: “When I was a young teacher in Bangladesh, the country was going through a bad famine. People dying from not having any food; hundreds of thousands of people died. And we were told by world leaders that Bangladesh is a lost cause. That there was no need to pay attention to that country. This year, Bangladesh has come out with big news that it has achieved the Millennium Development Goal Number One, reducing poverty by half before 2015. If that country can achieve this miracle, any country in the world can do it and will make it happen. That is what the youth can do, you are a different kind of generation.”
He got everyone clapping when he said that come 2030, there will be a ‘poverty museum’. “We will have a great museum like we have a stadium here that will show what poverty used to be, because there will be no more poverty.”
Sir Bob Geldof had no kind words when he got up to speak. His words were a clear indication that yes in our everyday world we need to get tough love as well.
“All of the singing, all the fun, all the colors will be nothing if you leave this Summit without intent, intent to leave this Summit and create change. All generations fail, but my generation has failed more disgracefully than any other. Progress is endless, you must try to understand the problems that we face are rarely local; they are global,” he said.
Everyone spoke from their hearts, the emotion was real. They want a better world for all of us and they are counting on us, the young leaders, to help them accomplish this. And yet, this was only just the start of the three day long One Young World Summit. It was a re-awakening, the kind that jolts you back into position ready for battle. I am inspired to do better, change the world, to tell the African story even better, because I am all the change that the world needs.
I thank you MTN for this opportunity.
Commenting on the event, Anthony Katamba, MTN Uganda’s General Manager Corporate Services said MTN is committed to continue supporting young people and the media fraternity both locally and on the continent as a whole, to gain more exposure by attending high profile international summits such as the just ended Young World Summit.
“We are proud of the immense contribution of MTN in enabling a cross section of African professionals and in particular a young upcoming Ugandan journalist to be part of critical reflection and engagement at the global stage on leadership and media issues. Just recently we sponsored three Ugandan journalists to the 2013 Highway Africa Conference again in Johannesburg. This is the world’s largest gathering of African journalists to address challenges facing African journalists and assess the impact of technological changes on the media”, said Katamba.
He added that this is something MTN Uganda will continue doing as a commitment to our support for impactful leadership in all sectors in the country and Africa at large.
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