Africa is living the darkest night in its history. With 60% of its population is under the age of 36, the youth of Sub-Saharan Africa is affected the most by poverty, climate instability and forced migration, inter-ethnic conflicts or, better, by civil wars. Melchior Nsavyimana, a young Burundian who has recently presented his PhD research in Sophia said: “There have always been young African students in Sophia, since the first year of its existence. We have found a place to study, to explore the world cultures, and to imagine a different future, but above all, we have found a place where we have realized that we are responsible for our continent, Africa. We have understood that favorable conditions are present. It is up to us to support those who work for change, to forge a new leadership deeply rooted in the culture of unity.”
After graduating in Bujumbura and acquiring some professional experience in an international cooperation, Melchior came to Sophia. Here, he has earned a Master’s Degree in Political Science and Doctorate in International Relations. His research was based on Regional Integration in East Africa. With an immense love for his country, he has been working for a great dream for months alongside other Sophia students, who come from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Democratic Rep. of Congo, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar and Egypt. “At the root of so much suffering, there is the lack of responsible leaders, systematic corruption, surrender to large power groups, mismanagement of the resources of a continent extraordinarily rich in life and in perspectives … But escape is not the answer,” said Natasha Razava, a student of International Law from Madagascar. “Come Back to Africa. Let’s go back to Africa. Let’s take our future in our hands,” she said.
“Come Back to Africa” is a three-year pilot project, already presented to UNESCO and to some EU institutions that aim to train young people to take direct responsibility in the public sphere, in the media and communications, in enterprises and in various economic areas, in public administration and in international organizations. In fact, it is young people who can heal the wounds and build bridges between peoples, looking to a possible future. The first initiative is just around the corner. From the 3rd to 7th January next year, at the Mariapolis Piero near Nairobi, young graduates and students of Sophia will organize the first training week with the support of some professors and the academic structure of the Loppiano Institute. A group of tutors and local experts in formation processes will also participate in the event.
It will be followed by annual Summer Schools organized by this team, starting from the following year. The first Summer School will involve 100 young people from East Africa (from 20 to 35 years old), who are already active in the civil society networks. However, it is destined to expand over time in other parts of Africa.
It is a forerunner, which has all the elements of a future presence of Sophia in Africa. It is not by chance that one of the main objectives of the project is to bring together young people and adults involved in change. This is also why the Movimento Politico per l’Unità, founded in the 90s by Chiara Lubich and based on the ideal of unity, supports the project. The movement has a long experience of arranging “Schools of Participation” for the civic and political education of young people.
The Nairobi Short Course intends to give priority to the young people, so that they can revive the founding values of their communities, learn to value the cultural, economic and social resources available to them, to acquire awareness and knowledge of the contexts, of the wounds but also of the enormous existing possibilities, to bring not only immediate and concrete answers but also mid and long-term solutions.
To open doors for this dream and to bring it to light, persons that have given life to Africa, such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Nelson Mandela, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Modibo Keita, Jomo Kenyatta, Patrice Lumwumba and other great personalities, who lived the early stages of their lives, during the 60s, in Europe, soon understood the urgency to return to Africa. Therefore, the word for today’s youth is protagonists of the “continent of the future”.