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Oct. 1, 2022
** Youth congress set to draw thousands with the theme “Africa: My Home. My Future”
A youth congress organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches on 31 October-5 November at the Pentecost Convention Center in Ghana will draw about 2,000 young people between the ages of 15-35.
With the theme “Africa: My Home. My Future,” the congress will endeavor to increase awareness of the tremendous potentials of young people—and the opportunities that await.
Below, Rev Dr. Lesmore Gibson Ezekiel, All Africa Conference of Churches director of programmes, reflects on the planning, vision, and prayers for the congress. https://www.oikoumene.org/news/youth-congress-set-to-draw-thousands-with-the-theme-africa-my-home-my-future 6 March 2018, Arusha, Tanzania: 31 young participants in the Stewards Programme of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism visit YWCA in Arusha, Tanzania, for discussions on challenges faced by youth today, raising issues of facing unemployment, accessing education, and particilarly challenges in the context of prevention of HIV. Photo:Albin Hillert/WCC 30 September 2022
What are your hopes for discussion, interaction, and inspiration for the young people who will gather?
Dr Lesmore: We have been listening to young people who want to address so many issues, among them irregular migration, human trafficking, and migrant smuggling. We are trying to emphasize that, if the opportunity comes for you to leave the continent, leave with dignity—you don’t have to go through the desert and the sea. With the slogan “Africa: My Home. My Future,” we are partnering with our member churches, councils, institutions, ecumenical bodies, partners, and development agencies to support some aspect of the site events that issues and themes relating to patriotism and active citizenship, human dignity, peace, security, gender justice, climate change, inequalities, injustices, health, and human rights. The journey to this congress has had a lot of challenges. We have many young people who are trying to be part of the event but are financially handicapped.
What are some signs of hope you see among young people?
Dr Lesmore: When I see young people who choose not to dare the Mediterranean Sea or the Sahara Desert in search of greener pastures, it gives us hope. It is common sense to say: If there is a greener pasture somewhere else, then where you are is pretty green as well—can you make it even greener? In many ways, the political systems in Africa seems not to work for young people, with nothing being offered to them by the systems and structures. But there are still signs of hope, for example, when they see some other young people who became more creative and innovative, and traveled to Europe, America, and island nations for their holidays with the proceeds of their creative efforts. We are saying, you can dig down and it is not an easy route, but you need to roll up your sleeve and get into the modern work. We will bring a narrative of hope that, in turn, sustains their hope.
What can your ecumenical family pray for you as the Youth Congress approaches?
Dr Lesmore: We pray for a successful congress: that these young people who will be traveling to Ghana are not going there for ecumenical tourism but are going in order to sharpen each other, to dream, to envision a new Africa where their potentials are realized. Please, pray for all of this!