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PLO Lumumba to youth: Be catalysts of change

Lawyer PLO Lumumba has made a clarion call on the African youth to rise up and take centre stage in creating change and transformation in society.

Prof. Lumumba, who spoke in Kisumu County on Thursday after the lakeside city was endorsed to host the 5th World Blacks and Africans Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in 2024, beseeched the young people to seize the moment to learn the value of culture and embrace it.

“You should be competing with the world and not with yourself or the neighbouring countries. Are you prepared to compete with Indians and South Koreans? In this way, you will be useful to the continent and the world,’’ he stated.

He made the remarks while delivering a public lecture on the ‘Role of the Youth in Shaping Africa’s Future,’ at the Mama Grace Onyango Cultural and Social Centre in Kisumu. Through talent exploitation, Prof. Lumumba clarified that the youth will be better placed to utilise their talents.

Prof. Lumumba stressed that FESTAC is in the context of pan-Africanism, and they are talking about the works of young Africans who made a contribution to the world.

The notable contributors he pointed out include Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Robert Mongolisu Sobukwe, Julius Nyerere, and Winnie Mandela.

“They were young, passionate, and prepared to die for their countries. History, therefore, has been consistent, and whenever there is a dramatic change in the lives of nations and civilization, there is always the bravery of young Africans,” he offered.

Lumumba, who is the Director of the Kenya School of Law, further added that the young people are the change-makers in the world in various disciplines, including independence and the political arena.

“When Chinua Achebe wrote Things Fall Apart (1968), he was only 22 years old, and when Fadhili William wrote the song Malaika, he was in his 20s. Bob Marley sang about Buffalo Soldier when he was in his late 20s,” Prof. Lumumba stated.

He added, “The continent of Africa faces a myriad of challenges, and society can’t grow if the young men and women are not awake.”

Prof. Lumumba emphasised that people should not discard their culture but strive to offer teachings to preserve their various languages.

“With cultural dynamism, the future of Africa rests on the youth’s shoulders, and you must be prepared to surmount the challenge,” he said.

Lumumba advised that whatever the young people want to achieve today and tomorrow, they must be ready to begin now.

“What kind of young men and women are you? Don’t sleep through a revolution or change. It can be done; play your part,” PLO Lumumba posed and reassured the youth as he paraphrased the words of the late Tanzanian Former President Julius Nyerere and Irvin Washington.

The Chairman of FESTAC, Mr. Yinka Abioye, informed the gathering that the organisation was founded in the early 1960s with the aim of ending colonisation and creating a platform that brings African people together.

“It was meant to call and wake up people to rally towards common goals. We should strive to have one Africa, one country, and one passport,’’ Abioye said.

He said that the forthcoming FESTAC event to be held in Kisumu from May 20–26, 2024, will be a success and imprint a lasting impression. The fun-filled festival will bring over 10,000 people from different geographies, tribes, and countries who will come to showcase their diverse cultures from all over the globe.

In light of the above, he encouraged local and neighbouring small and medium traders to come and make profits from doing brisk business. The festival will also have sporting activities like rugby, netball, volleyball, golf, and basketball, among others.

The FESTAC boss further pointed out that they are currently working with NBA professional basketball players in the US who have confirmed to grace the next festival fiesta.

Abioye added that any talented youth shouldn’t shy away from their talents and skills, “but be always ready to show their mettle and be discovered by the world.”

By Rolex Omondi

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