7 Young Africans Keeping The Pan-African Dream Alive

by Duke Magazine

There is always a need to recognize and celebrate the great contributions of pacesetting Africans who have made a laudable impact in keeping the Pan-African dream alive.

These young vibrants, scholars, entrepreneurs, and activists across the continent are leading efforts to change the existing problems, by making tangible differences in their space.

Pursuing various interests, these young men and women have made a significant impact through their work, selfless sacrifices, talent, bravery and spirited leadership, underlining that despite existing challenges the Pan-African dream is still alive.

Bobi Wine

Celebrating Young African Activists

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known as Bobi Wine, is a Ugandan politician and singer. He currently serves as Member of Parliament. He has been arrested and charged on several occasions. 

With his wide influence, Bobi Wine has built a huge and popular political platform around a creative slogan “people power, our power” under the People Power Movement. The movement seeks to unite Ugandans on issues such as ending human rights abuse, corruption and redefining the rule of law, with a focus on young Ugandans. 

Bobi Wine has been winning the hearts of many young people and poses a real threat to President Yoweri Museveni’s leadership. Bobi Wine has led peaceful demonstrations against police brutality, injustice and misuse of authority and continues to inspire many young people across the continent.

Alaa Salah

Celebrating Young African Activists

Alaa is a 22-year-old Sudanese protester popularly referred to as ‘Lady Liberty’, whose iconic photograph helped to ignite Sudan’s revolution which ousted President Omar al-Bashir. 

Since her famous image went viral, Salah has graced various platforms including the United Nations Security Council advocating for the inclusion and equal representation of women in politics. At the UN, Salah said: “There is no excuse for [women] not to have an equal seat at every single table.”

In one of her interviews, Salah told TIME that she wants the government “to listen to women as well” in order to achieve “the Sudan that [we] all envisioned.” She inspired many with her tenacity. 

Zukiswa Wanner

Celebrating Young African Activists

Zukiswa Wanner is an award-winning African writer who has produced a number of works and contributed to various newspapers and magazines.

She has been an author of 15 years, promoting African literature, thereby opening doors for young African writers.

In 2020 Zukiswa was awarded the Goethe Medal alongside Ian McEwan and Elvira Espejo Ayca, making Wanner the first African woman to win the award.

“Her conception of herself as an African writer leads her to range far beyond national frontiers in her writing, whilst at the same time bringing the diversity of African culture into her artistic work. Her detailed knowledge of South African literature and her nuanced understanding of regional discourses and female identity in Africa mean her expertise is internationally sought after; she is also a role model for an entire generation of African writers.” — The Jury of the Goethe Medal 2020.

Burna Boy

Celebrating Young African Activists

While receiving her Grammy for Best World Music Album in 2020, Beninese legend Angélique Kidjo hailed the new generation of young African artists and gave a credit to Nigeria’s Burna Boy,  for “changing the way our continent is perceived.”

Burna Boy has been a leading force bringing social and political conversations to the fore through his music. In October 2020, he helped to bring attention to the Nigerian crisis when he took part in a protest movement demanding the end of the country’s police unit SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad).

He released a single “20:10:20” which highlighted the infamous “Lekki massacre” where the military shot into the crowd of defenseless protesters. In the song, Burna Boy also talks about corruption and youth unemployment.

Burna Boy has always blended conscious lyrics in his music with comments on burning issues such as inequality, violence, colonialism, systemic racism, miseducation and decolonization. 

Vanessa Nakate

Celebrating Young African Activists

The effects of climate change are trendy topical issues bringing concerns to Africans in the area of its aftermath. There are observable effects of climate change and evidence shows that flooding, drought, and change in distribution of rainfall are already affecting the security, livelihoods, and food productivity of many African people.

24-year-old Ugandan climate activist Vanessa Nakate, has been at the frontline of raising awareness on the effects of climate change having witnessed the impact of climate change in her own community and country.

Africa is the least polluting or carbon emitting continent, but despite its low emissions, the region is one of the most vulnerable and severely affected by the climate crisis. Vanessa is also fighting for marginalized voices to be better represented in the environmental movement. She is founder of the Africa-based Rise Up Movement.

Ubah Ali

Celebrating Young African Activists

Ubah Ali is a Somali social activist and feminist. She is the co-founder of Solace for Somaliland Girls, a foundation committed to eradicating all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) across communities in Somaliland, through education and empowerment.

While FGM has been declared illegal in some African countries, the harmful practice is still prevalent. Reports say an estimated 50 million girls are at risk of FGM in Africa between now and 2030, and concerted efforts are required to ensure that FGM rates continue to decline.

Ubah Ali is among the leading campaigners doing great in the quest of putting an end to female genital mutilation in line with human rights standards.

“The world has changed a lot in 2020. There is an urgent call for the unity of women around the world – many experience domestic violence, rape, FGM and more. With unity, women can demand justice”— Ubah Ali.

Rebecca Gyumi

Celebrating Young African Activists

Rebeca Gyumi is the founder and executive director at the Msichana Initiative, a local NGO working to advance girls’ rights. The Msichana (meaning girl in Swahili) Initiative aims to empower girls through education and address challenges which limit their right to education.

She is also an advocate for gender equality, and has vast experience working on youth engagement and building women’s movements, and providing advocacy at national and grassroots levels.

She has been involved in several global campaigns for mobilization of resources for initiatives, which works on girls’ issues.

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