Liberia: Young Political Leaders Challenged to Stand Tall against Ills in Society

Participants from 9 African Countries gathered in Monrovia to attend the YPLS Africa Cohort 10

— As YPLS Africa cohort-10 school opens

The Swedish Ambassador to Liberia and Sierra Leone, Urban Sjostrom, has challenged young political leaders to stand tall against the ills in their societies.

Sjostrom, who spoke at the opening of cohort 10 of the Young Political Leadership School of Africa (YPLS), told the participants that citizens need to be more aware of the social contract, which is critical to a successful democracy.

YPLS Africa is a political organizing, leadership development, and campaign training program for emerging young African leaders organized by Naymote Partners for Democratic Development with support from its partners.

“We all need to be activists for democracy, and that is the only way to keep the peace sustained and contribute to sustainable development goals, so let’s keep on,” he urged.

The Swedish Ambassador to Liberia and Sierra Leone stressed that democracy must be based on the rule of law and not by law because it is something that everyone needs to cherish, commit to, and defend.

According to him, democracy is a system that needs to work for everyone, not just individuals, be they men or women. “I think your role as a young person from individual countries is key.” stressed the importance of scrutinizing to be able to make a real democracy work in Africa.

Sjostrom's cautious YPLS participants uphold the principles of democracy in Africa.

He, however, underscored the need for democracy to be a system where freedom of speech is possible. “It should be a system where freedom of thought and different types of views can come together to make a difference.”

Sjostrom maintained that democracy is always possible if it is based on the rule of law.

The Swedish Ambassador to Liberia and Sierra Leone, who early stood tall on the possibility of how democracy can work for Liberia and other African countries, acknowledged that everyone knows that democracy is always the majority, which is overruled by the minority, and there are human rights for everybody all of the time, and we also need gender equality.

Also speaking, ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Madam Josephine Nkrumah, highlighted the importance of young political leaders understanding what it means to be a leader because the world itself is navigating and the youths are taking center stage driven by technology, which has an abundance of access to knowledge.

“I’m excited today to see young people gauging efforts to make real change, and to become a true leader for today, you need to have transformational leadership skills, and those skills should transcend the borders of Liberia,” she said. “It is something that is applicable and relevant to the West African sub-region and the continent of Africa as well as the global context.”

Nkrumah assures young African leaders that today, if they look at global demographics projected into the future, a larger component of the youth will come from Africa, and so we have a real opportunity and duty to transform the world.

She said, “We need to start asking ourselves about what is happening to Africans; it starts with these kinds of conversations that you are starting in today’s gathering. 

Nkrumah further reminded the young people about the growing wave of coup d’état across the subregion, noting that, “It is about time to start some fair conversations that center around such dissolutions—how do we build a better equitable partnership with the West?”

The ECOWAS Ambassador called on YPLS participants to start asking how they can position themselves as young leaders to bring about the change that allows them to benefit from the exploration of their resources, not just through big campaigns but also by themselves.

For her part, Alphia Faith Kemorkai, Program Manager of YPLS Africa, disclosed that the program challenges, inspires, motivates, and sparks new insights for participants to become transformational and/or servant leaders in their generation.

She said the YPLS Africa was established in April 2016 by Naymote and convenes young politicians and youth activists with a passion for supporting good governance, policy advocacy, fostering transparency in government, and mobilizing their communities to ensure that government officials are accountable to the people.

Kemokai said the program has received one thousand applicants from 21 countries in Africa, and out of that number, the YPLS Cohort-10 welcomes 100 young leaders from across nine countries, of whom 45% are female.

In her opening statement, she mentioned that the YPLS Africa has, over the years, built the capacity of eight hundred and thirty (830) leaders all across Africa. 

“We are very pleased to inform you that many of our alumni are contesting, winning, and occupying key leadership positions in their universities, communities’ political parties, and the countries at large,” she added.

Kemorkai indicated that the institution believes in young people having the numbers that should be mobilized with the best amongst them to win elected offices, bringing youth development, new political thinking, and most significantly, good governance.

“Over the course of five days, participants are expected to gain skills to enhance their understanding of leadership quality, electoral administration, and the elements of good governance, as well as expand their networks,” she declared.

Kemokai said that the YPLS Africa will be recorded in history for providing a platform that will change and transform Africa for the better. However, PYLS Cohort 10 is being held under the theme “Promoting Youth and Women’s Political Participation in Democratic Spaces.”