Akwaba—‘Welcome’

| October 4, 2017

Black Quakers fellowship in Ghana

Paul Ricketts and Linda Nyaamah Anaabah.

Paul Ricketts and Linda Nyaamah Anaabah.

By Paul Ricketts

Contributor Writer

Founded in 1991, the Fellowship of Friends of African Descent was formed out of  “a desire that Quakers of African descent know each other.” At the August 2016 Fellowship gathering in Philadelphia, the organization reaffirmed its purpose to uplift Quakers of African descent around the world, with the understanding that cross-cultural experiences are central to the Quaker faith and practice of seeing the presence of God in all people. The Fellowship accepted an invitation from the Hill House Friends Meeting (Quakers) in Accra, Ghana, to join them in worship and fellowship.

According to the World Economic Forum, ten of the world’s youngest countries are in Africa. The combined effects of a high birth rate and low life expectancy mean that in some parts of West Africa, the median age is less than 15 years. A 2014 UN  report observes, “Lack of meaningful work among young people is playing into frustration that has in some instances contributed to social unrest or unmanaged migration.”

One of the highlights of the trip for this writer was a visit with Linda Nyaamah Anaabah. I had the great pleasure of interviewing her about her work with the Afrika Youth Movement, a pan-African, action-oriented, youth-led movement that was formed in 2013 to advocate for the participation, development and leadership of African youth in transforming Africa and achieving their right to peace, equality and social justice.

PR: Can you share briefly about the work that led to your involvement in the Afrika Youth Movement (AYM)?

LNA: The original project I founded was the Bold Adolescent Girls’ Union, dedicated to empowering women and youth through reproductive health, education, peace and security training, and environmentally friendly farming.

PR: What motivated you to get involved in the AYM?

LNA: Its vision, “Transformation of the Afrikan continent by Afrika youth,” motivated me. My personal vision for Africa is a continent where all young people are empowered, secure and less vulnerable in society.

PR: Can you share with readers what you see as the immediate concerns of African youth today?

LNA: Unemployment is the leading concern for African youth today. Every year, thousands of university graduates across the continent expect to get jobs, only to realize the government can absorb just 2% each year. The issue of access to quality education is another concern for African youth: few get the opportunity to further their education to high school. Currently, access to senior high school in Ghana depends on passing an entrance exam, available places, and, crucially, being able to afford the fees. Finally, there is little to no representation of youth in our parliament houses where most policies are made concerning youth.

PR: How difficult and rewarding has it been for you in lifting up the voices and concerns of Afrikan youth today?

LNA: In Africa, respect for elders means not expressing ourselves in front of them and agreeing to what the elders say without any objections. The most rewarding is the impact I made during Ghana’s election in 2016: I led a group of 250 youth peace ambassadors (PAs) to campaign for peace and fair elections. The PAs organized and facilitated a nationwide conversation on creating the conditions on the ground for a violence-free general election.

PR: How have you resolved the dilemma with the elders?

LNA: We invite them to youth-initiated programs, so they see how we solve social challenges. We also engage the elders in dialogue forums in search of a common understanding on issues facing African youth today.

PR: How is the emerging Afrika Youth Movement part of the pan-African movement?

LNA: AYM is a subset of the pan-African movement. Just like the Pan-African movement considers the importance of unity, AYM does the same. AYM, just like the pan-African movement, works with different partners to uplift the economic, social and political progress for people of African descent.

PR: What can we in the African diaspora do to help you and the others further your work?

LNA: We need your technical support and business coaches. Bold Adolescent Girls’ Union wishes to have a youth center where every young person can walk in to learn, play, and get medical and other professional health services. If you or your organization can help, please email me at nyaamahla@gmail.com.

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Category: Community, International, Spiritual Matters

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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