Thirty-three young Zambians have graduated in three courses organised under the US President Barack Obama-led Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) at the Regional Leadership Center – Southern Africa (RLC SA) in Pretoria.
According to a statement released by the Press Secretary at the Zambian High Commission to South Africa, Nicky Shabolyo, the 33 were respectively conferred with certificates in Civic Leadership; Business and Entrepreneurship Development, and Public Management and Governance on Thursday night at the University Of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria.
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer for the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership, Dr. Renosi Mokate urged the graduates to take the lead, as they go back to their respective countries, in finding solutions to the challenges in society.
“With the skills you have attained, please become the foundation for a new generation of global leadership across borders. Africa has achieved a lot in eradicating its challenges and I hope you will be part of the group that will work towards resolving the remaining challenges on the continent,” Dr. Mokate said.
She said attending the one month-long programme and graduating was a milestone for the group as it set them out to taking up leadership roles after undergoing transformation to acquire leadership skills.
“The certificate you will be receiving today has opened up a whole new world for you with endless opportunities for you. I hope you will continue connecting with each other and become a long term project that will enable us achieve even more successes,” Dr. Mokate said.
The YALI was launched by President Obama as a signature effort to groom strong, results-oriented leaders for the next generation of African leaders. The 33 Zambians were part of a total of 130 with others coming from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
USAID Southern Africa Mission Director, Ms. Cheryl Anderson told the audience that YALI was President Obama’s top priority and that the White House was eager to see the contribution that those who passed through the programme would make to their respective societies.
“President Obama sees this as a legacy achievement and I think he will remain engaged even when he leaves office next year.”
Ms. Anderson pointed out that USAID planned to welcome over 700 participants to South Africa within 2016.
And USAID Education and Youth Team Leader for Southern Africa, Ms. Meredith Fox urged the graduates to spread and reach out to other young people in their societies who could also benefit from the programme so that they could help make President Obama’s dream of developing young leaders come to fruition.
Ms. Fox said USAID will start a Facebook Page through which it hoped to keep together all those whom had gone through the programme as a way of encouraging cross-border exchange of experiences.
University of Pretoria Deputy Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies, Professor Stella Nkomo on witnessing the graduation ceremony noted that “I see that this continent is in good hands. Those of us who are retiring need not worry as we have the right people to take over.”
Professor Nkomo pointed out that President Obama’s motivation to support the programme was driven by the desire to back the African Union’s vision of cultivating a peaceful and motivated continent, saying this could only be easily achieved through a well skilled leadership.
“I think Africa can lead the world. We don’t need to follow but be ambitious. 21st Century should be one in which Africa defeats poverty and all the other challenges afflicting her including all those factors that have stood in the way of the continent’s happiness. Never get caught up in the negativity that happens on the continent but believe in possibilities,” Professor Nkomo said.
And giving a vote of thanks on behalf of the others, Christabel Mwango of Zambia pointed out that the graduates had benefitted a lot from the programme and were a better people than when they arrived for their respective courses a month ago.
Ms. Mwango, who received a standing ovation, called for the mainstreaming of gender so that men and women become true partners in development.
The next YALI – RLC SA training programme is scheduled for 11th April – 6th May, 2016, at the UNISA School of Business Leadership in Midrand, South Africa.