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YOUTHCONNEKT Africa summit-MKUR Students “Represent”

You don’t know excitement if you’ve not been in school, or in general a community of young people: Youngsters are the true definition of “excitement”, give them anything you as an adult may consider boring, and they will birth life into it.

Mount Kenya University Rwanda students are no exception, from the date the YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2022 was announced to date, its still the talk of many at the school compass: From forming a WhatsApp group for those who will attend the summit, to fighting for badges, not forgetting waking up in the wee hours on the day of the summit to catch the bus to the venue.

They say time is money and that time wasted is never gained, well; none of these proverbs made sense on the 13th of October, 2022; following an announcement by the Dean of Students that all those attending the summit should be at school by 6:00am in the morning as the bus was to leave at 7:30am or else they will miss out on connecting with Youth from allover the continent, only for them to leave the school premises at 9:00am.

This however never burnt the burning flames of vibes in the student; after all, “better late than never”. The pickup buses weren’t the only late ones that day as the summit too that was scheduled to begin by 8:00am (as per the Programme links that were sent to the delegates) started in the afternoon.

Give it up to the emcees Makeda Mahadeo and Davy Carmel Ingabire who kept the youth entertained and on their feet dancing to the Latest African jams. The deejay too didn’t disappoint as his skills saw the crowd storm the floor of BK Arena to show off their dancing moves.

Delegates from different Nations dance while showing their country flags

The youth weren’t the only people to sweat off excess fat through dancing, the dinosaur too took to the stage although for it, it was more of a plea to whoever was around to say no to Extinction.

Excited crowds take photos of the Dinosaur

At exactly midday, the guest of honor H.E Paul Kagame the president of Rwanda arrived at the arena amidst ululations from African Youth and other delegates and as soon as he took his seat, the summit officially kicked off with the minister of Youth and Culture in Rwanda Hon. Rosemary Mbabazi addressing the Youth and reminding them that Africa is all we have and so by them being Resilient, Africa is Resilient.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) representative in Rwanda Mr. Maxwell Gomera was the next to speak to the Youth: Sharing his childhood background of helping his mom to sell tomatoes during the holidays, Mr. Maxwell urged the Youth to not let their backgrounds define them as they are the engines of Africa and that the summit is meant to charge them.

Other speakers for the day were the Korean Ambassador to Rwanda, the president of Namibia and Senegal (the two attended virtually), and the Deputy president of Kenya. In his words, the deputy president called upon the leaders in Africa to let the Youth take up political positions as well as the youth to not shy away from responsibilities because the African continent depends on them.

To close off the speeches of day one was the Guest of Honor, H.E the president of Rwanda Mr. Paul Kagame. In his remarks, the president advised the youth to be disciplined, have purpose; as hard work/ smart work without focus is not filled.

H.E the President of Rwanda addressing delegates during the Summit

The youth were also given an opportunity to ask their leaders questions regarding their development in a panel that was moderated by Ms. Ruhveneko Parirenyatwa a Zimbabwean radio and television talk show host, emcee and philanthropist among which was a sixteen year old girl from Kenya who is a climate activist.

The young climate activist from Kenya giving her concerns to the Panelists

Believe history for repeating itself, Mount Kenya University Students nearly missed out on attending day 2 of the youth summit. This time round the bus arrived at 11:00am and upon arrival at Intale Arena, it made a U-turn back to the compass as they were not allowed to access the premises for being late.

Thanks to the speakers from day 1 who urged the youth to be resilient, their speeches really hit home as seven of the students out of the a hundred who were supposed to attend devised all means possible and attended the conference.

“The seven” reached the arena at 4:00pm when key speakers of the day like the First Lady of Rwanda Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, had already given their speeches but they were early for the day’s entertainment from artistes like Chris Eazy, Ariel Ways, Bruce Melody, and Nigerian artiste Patoranking who was the lead performer for the day.

If determined was a person, it would be MKUR students, giving up doesn’t exist in their dictionaries: no wonder they were chosen to take part in the summit that was themed “Resilient Youth Resilient Africa”. Day 3 came and as usual, they turned up.

Unlike the previous days, this time round their bus was at the school compass before 7:00am and by 9:00am on Saturday, they were already in their seats at Intare Arena were they learnt a lot about job opportunities for the Youth, sports, music and also witnessed the rewarding ceremony of best youth development projects by the prime minister of Rwanda Mr. Eduard Ngirente.

YouthConnekt Africa summit was launched by H.E the president of Rwanda 10 years ago in partnership with UNDP with an aim to empower the youth. To date, the summit has over 38 African countries as members and several partners like World Health Organization, Mastercard Foundation, World vision, among others. As per the request by the Deputy President of Kenya Mr. Rigathi Gachagua, next years YouthConnekt Africa Summit will be hosted in Kenya.

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