18th July marks Mandela Day. I will be taking time to watch ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ for inspiration, again! To mark the day, on the 17th of July 2016, the 14th Annual Nelson Mandela Lecture took place in South Africa at University of Pretoria and the keynote speaker was Bill Gates- yes, the genius behind Microsoft who is famous the world over.
To mark the day and event here in Abuja, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (which has donated so much to improve the quality of life for Africans and will continue to do so) held a minimal and well co-ordinated Watch Party, which I’m honored to have been invited to attend. I was more than happy to be there with like-minded individuals as well as Dr Mairo Mandara, Ese Olufemi, Aziza Dangote and Ms Comfort Booth who are all part of Nigeria’s arm of the foundation.
Bill Gates’ speech was live streamed and he made many undeniable, important and dire points. Two of those points stood out to me the most. The lecture centered on ‘Living Together’. Firstly, he spoke about the importance of education to the African child. How can we really do better if we do not know better or raise children who will? With education, young Africans can begin to think for themselves and empower themselves and I believe that will set an interesting domino effect on so many other situations and ideas in Africa.
The second point that stood out the most to me was about creating an environment where Africa’s young people can thrive. Young people must not be forgotten or excluded because so much can be done across many sectors when young people have access to the things that are necessary for us to all thrive. It strongly resonated with me because I’m a strong supporter of the Not Too Young To Run bill and campaign which seeks to include young people in governance by reducing the required age for elective office and introducing independent candidacy (www.yiaga.org/nottooyoungtorun ). I believe that young people should at least have a chance to run for office and take part in making decisions that affect us now and will affect us in the future especially since statistics state that about 60-80 % of Nigerians are youths. Innovation and drive is necessary for progression. Nelson Madela emphasized on the power of the youth and that is noteworthy.
There were many opinions shared and finally, Nigeria’s Country Director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Mairo Mandara, made it clear that we are in positions to do what we can to effect change in the perspective of ‘Living Together’. And I believe we must effect some change, even in tiny ways. For more information about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, visit www.gatesfoundation.org
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