Dr. Prize McApreko, UNESCO Peace Programme Ambassador, has challenged African youth to take advantage of the continent’s unprecedented youth population to endeavor to contribute their quota to Black Africans’ contribution to civilization and international development.
He said now was the time for the African youth to play their roles in making Africa great.
He was speaking as a Special Guest of Honour during the Black History Month Celebration curated by the American Spaces, Côte d’Ivoire network.
The event took place at the American Corner of the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny under the auspices of the American Embassy in Ivory Coast.
Addressing the audience of high schools, University students and educators, Dr. Prize McApreko paid glowing tribute to the undying memories of the likes of Rosa Parks whose refusal to give up her seat on a bus to a white person led to the historic 381-day long Montgomery Bus Boycott.
He also recalled how Martin Luther King Jnr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech before a mammoth crowd of some 250,000 fellow protesters led to major victories in the American Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s.
Dr. Prize McApreko established his engagement on three principal axes, namely: Peace and non-violence, Youth indulgence and Self-esteem.
On peace and non-violence, he drew attention to one important tool which black history makers had in common, that is being the strength of using peaceful and non-violent strategies to carry their messages successfully.
He made this aspect locally-relevant to his audience by suggesting that the intended message of sporadic violence that emerged under the slogan of “non au 3eme mandate” (No to a “3rd term) during the recent Ivorian election crises could have still been achieved through peaceful and non-violence means.
He said this was particularly important because majority of those who took to the streets were youth.
Dr. McApreko’s said Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. is not only remembered for peace and non-violence but also for acquiring his doctorate degree at a young age of 19.
On education and youth indulgence, he said Africa today is experiencing an unprecedented youth bulge which places the population of the youth at a very high figure which was continually increasing.
He said the youth were in good position to help transform Africa into “the Africa we would like to see”, through education and skills development, emphasizing that, no one either than the African can make the African continent better.
In this regard, Dr. Prize McApreko, referred to Muhammed Ali and Jesse Owens, both of whom used the skills of sports to make the black race proud.
He recalled that whilst much was known of Muhammed Ali for boxing, Jesse Owens, an Olympic Gold Medalist in the 1936 in Berlin, broke five world records in the track & field competitions, defying Adolf Hitler’s theory that the Aryan (white) race was a superior one.
He said there were several ways that the youth could contribute to Africa’s development without necessarily being academics like Dr. Martin Luther King.
He mentioned electronics, computer sciences, inventions, engineering, sports and endless opportunities for youth engagement, and challenged the youth to invest their core-competencies in such domains.
He said self-esteem should encourage the youth to return home and use the acquired skills and knowledge to promote development in Africa rather than remain in the diaspora, accepting menial jobs for the love of money.
He said this was why many opportunities, including those in the US, insist and enjoins youth beneficiaries in those to return to their home countries upon completing their studies.
Dr. McApreko said, sadly however, now African youth were reversing colonial history by voluntarily going to accept menial jobs in the diaspora as opposed to events of the despicable slave trade, when blacks were forcefully conscripted against their own will to go and work as slaves.
He contended that Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg speech : “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”, should inspire confidence in the capacity of Africa’s youth to hold their self-esteem in high spirits, and not to settle for mediocrity.
He said “The future of our great continent lies in your hands as youths, but remember, the future begins now”.
Dr. Prize McApreko is UNESCO Peace Programme Ambassador for the PhD/MA programme in International Studies in Peace, Conflict and Development, UNESCO Chair of Philosophy for Peace, Universitat Jaume I, Castellon- Spain.
He is currently a visiting lecturer at the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast.