by Judyannet Muchiri, NAYD Editor
From Nelson Mandela to all the men and women who went beyond the call of duty to give us the present day Africa as we know it. Their courage in the face of insurmountable circumstances amaze us and as such we have a moral obligation to continue with their work and lead Africa to the vision they had for it. Every young African – whether in Africa or overseas – owes it to these forefathers to actively play a role in the process of building Africa. We all do our part in different levels at the community but while it is a great thing it is an even greater thing to combine these efforts and create a force of change across Africa. But how and where do we do that?
The answer lies in the Network of African Youths for Development (NAYD). NAYD is a non political, non religious online platform that pools all the efforts of African youth into one force and gives them a greater voice. NAYD was established in 2006 and it is, simply put, a home to all young people who are primarily passionate about Africa and secondly work towards its sustainable development. It includes young people who are working in different community projects in their countries in youth – led start ups, community based organizations and non-governmental organizations. As is expected with any new venture NAYD started with a few members but it is currently looking at 20,000 members spread throughout the world. It is led by a group of passionate volunteers who run all its activities online and offline and who have overseen the rise in group membership in the last few years.
NAYD aims to promote and encourage the work of young Africans involved in activities that impact positive change in the continent by:
- creating a platform where the youth can exchange ideas and information;
- to create a dynamic network formed by and for young Africans for the development of Africa as a whole;
- to promote recognition of, mobilize and enhance the capacity of young Africans internationally;
- to provide them with leadership skills to take action against poverty.
NAYD ultimately aims to move Africa from being labeled ‘3rd world’ and ‘developing’ to a continent that can sustain itself and its people across generations. It does this by collaborating with other organizations, groups, associations and individuals in educating, informing and inspiring others thus creating an unstoppable ripple effect.
This is done in five major ways among others:
NAYD collects current verified information on everything about development in Africa and makes it available to all the members. If you want to know what is going on in Tunisia, Niger or in Tanzania look no further than the NAYD webpage and social media. It pools together information regarding, but not limited to, opportunities, projects, research and education. In a span of a very short time that very information reaches thousands of young people across the world, who in turn share it with their networks, who in turn share it and the process goes on. Whilst we can’t prove that information alone triggers change we are sure that it does reach them and if the surge in request for membership is anything to go by we are positive that there is action taking place in the community as a result of this shared information.
NAYD has a group of bloggers who are experienced in their fields, well informed and also well versed with the blogging world. These bloggers write on a number of topics that are relevant and vital to the process of development in Africa. It has three major blogs; HIV/AIDS, CLIMATE CHANGE and INSPIRE. Through these blogs, issues are analyzed and put down in a language that any young person can understand and relate to. Besides that they also include write-ups on people and groups that are working in these fields in the community. By doing this, not only does NAYD give young people information but also helps put a perspective to this information in relation to sustainable development in Africa.
Every few weeks NAYD collects stories that have shaped the development discourse across Africa and puts them in a newsletter that is circulated to its members and also to other organizations that work in the development sector internationally. This newsletter also highlights and recognizes one NGO every month that is youth-led and working in Africa for development. By celebrating the work done by these NGOs NAYD encourages the young people who work at the grass root and also inspires other young people into action. It also puts the particular NGO in the limelight so that people who might be looking to connect with such a group can get the relevant information and potentially proceed to a fruitful partnership. It is also a small way of telling these people ‘Good job, keep doing it’.
In the information age we do not have to meet and debate issues physically. Through live debates, NAYD gives a voice to people working in the community who rarely get heard on other platforms. Last year NAYD introduced live debates that had some young Africans deliberating on a topic and moderated by an African youth. The first was on the question of ‘aid verses development’ and whether or not Africa really needed more aid. Though marred by a few technical glitches it elicited deep emotions from both those opposing and those proposing. The debates will continue this year with more topics under scrutiny by the young. It is hoped these debates will incentivize the listeners and participants to turn the emotions displayed during the debates into positive action.
Watch here the first ever debate organised by the Network of African Youths for Development. Recorded Sat 23 November 2013 as a Google+ Event, Samuel Duru from South Africa argued the case for Development and Tinashe Dirwai of Zimbabwe for Aid. The debate was Chaired by NAYD’s webmaster Paul Shaw.
Besides the live debates NAYD also holds and encourages the youth into having discussions on social media about everyday occurrences that affect Africa and its prospects in sustainable development. These are open discussions that include members who are online at a particular time though they are moderated by one of the volunteers. Topics range from the education system in Africa, the place of women in development to why youth consider agriculture a dirty occupation. Giving a platform for the youth to discuss their own issues without having a feeling that the big brother is watching them means that they openly share their opinion and learn from each other in the process.
All these activities are aimed at seeing that the process of development in Africa is open, owned by the youth and spearheaded by the youth. NAYD envisions a future where every African has access to quality education, food, health care and housing regardless of gender, status, tribe or geographical location. An Africa whose search in online search engines does not return emaciated kids holding an big empty bowl looking into an empty world in empty anticipation.
It always seems impossible until it is done. (Nelson Mandela)
You can contact Judyannet by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @JudyannetM