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Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Tasks African Youth in Lagos
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Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Tasks African Youth in Lagos

Ms. Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba (centre)

The Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Ms. Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, has challenged African youths to contribute solutions to the diverse challenges confronting Africa, reports Femi Asu from Nigeria.

Speaking in Lagos, Nigeria, at the 4th Biennial Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) Conference at Orchid Hotels, Dream World Africana Way, Lekki-Epe, Lagos, she said: “Youth are vital in the work of development, adding that they can make enormous contribution.

The four-day conference which began on Thursday, October 4, brought together young people from various African countries focusing on “Innovation and Creativity for a Better Africa: Implementing Your Dreams”

Speaking about the voice and the role of young people, she told participants to tell others that they are not passengers on the development agenda; that they have a role to play in the development of their nation and the African continent.

“Use your voice responsibly,” she said, “from a knowledge base and contribute solutions. The time for complaints has gone. There is much you can contribute in overcoming the challenges confronting Africa.

“You do have a right, but with those rights come responsibility. How are you going to differentiate yourself? What is the difference your being here will make to the world?” she asked rhetorically. “Knowing what you know, do you use it for the betterment of the society?” she continued.

In her words: “Becoming an individual of value means bracing yourself for success and making a contribution.”

“Education,” she said, “is an enabler; a stepping stone to where you desire to be. What does your education help you to achieve? That’s what is important. How does it help you to challenge the boundaries?

“Yes, our degrees and certificates are important, but they are not the whole story… Do you have something of value that you believe will add value to someone or an organization?”

She added: “You have got to be relevant. You have got to be true to yourself. Present yourself in a way that says, ‘This is who I am’. You have to know what your core competences are. It demands confidence and knowledge. If you don’t project confidence and knowledge, people won’t be interested.”

“In differentiating yourself, avoid focusing on the ‘what’, but focus on the ‘why’ and ‘how’. Why should you be employed?

“Be open and learn. There is no way you can differentiate yourself if you are not willing to be open and learn. Ask yourself : ‘What am I learning from the challenges I am going through? How can I use my education, technology , my resources to make a difference?”

Speaking on branding, she said “branding is about saying to the world, ‘I am who I am.’ When you develop a brand, get as much feedback as possible from people. A brand is not something you compose, it is something you expose. It is not something you impose.

“Use your brilliance. Communicate what it is you want to do to for the world. Dream big. You have got to be clear. Find your niche. Get over yourself and desire to understand yourself.”

“You are a generation of social media. You have a platform. What do you use it for? Is it just about me, me, me? You must understand that nobody is really interested in you, what they are interested in is your passion and your contribution in making society better. You have the power and you need to unlock it.

“Standout. Make a contribution. Inform yourself. If we want a better world, we have got to engage and apply ourselves and stand out and be counted. The world is on the lookout for transformational leaders.”

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