“Unlocking Youth Potential”: Interviews from Europe and Africa

Standard

Youth unemployment becomes a challenge for governments and a nightmare for youth. Youth unemployment remains a barrier for the young generation in Africa and Europe. More than 75 million young people are unemployed internationally; this number is getting bigger in Africa, as it remains the youngest continent of the world with the highest number of unemployment among youth.

This large unemployed youth population indicates lost development potential since governments fail to benefit from the young people’s contribution. Also, difficulties in finding and sustaining decent employment diminish from a young person’s lifetime productivity, which makes it even more challenging to face poverty, hunger, health issues and more social and economic issues.

I caught up with Mr. Yassine Mohamed Ennaem, President of ADYNE (African Diaspora Youth Network in Europe) to get his opinion on the subject.

10271499_10152462645602009_123259009967672905_n

Sana: First, thank you Mr. Yassine for taking the time to chat with us, we imagine how busy you are, and we’ve been informed that you will take part of the “African Diaspora Forum in Europe” this June as a Keynote Speaker, can you share with us a brief background of the work you do?

Mr. Yassine: Thank you Sana, it is my pleasure. I’m the President of ADYNE as you have mentioned Our target group to serve is mainly the African Diaspora community, thought we always make sure that other backgrounds and no African youth are present, our work is devoted to provide them with opportunities and skills, to motivate them and inspire them to change their situations in Europe to a better one, not only that but also to contribute to the society and to the development of their countries of living and Origin, and here allow me to tell that this was The vision of ADYNE since we created it “ to create a world where every African Diaspora youth in Europe can unite as Global Citizens to contribute to the sustainable development of both continents”

Sana: Amazing, as you know the forum is tackling a very challenging topic which is the youth unemployment among Africans living in the Diaspora, based on your case and in addition for being active in the Diaspora, you are also recognized as shifting example to the national development scale, how would you describe the current situation of Africans in Diaspora in Europe?

Mr. Yassine: To be fair, the youth unemployment nowadays is a challenge faced by all Youth in Europe, therefore we cannot connect it to people with African background only, though there are cases where people with African background did not have equal opportunities as others, I would say that this is not the rule, it remains a culture that will probably take sometimes to overtake it and the best way to face this issue is by being more competitive, youth with African background in many cases they should be better than others to be given a job, if they are just equal they are not given the priority unfortunately.

I would like to stress on the fact that today we can see large number of people with African background occupying a high positions in every field and sector, director, professors, doctors, judges, Ministers, MPs etc…

It is true that most of the first generation of Africans that came to Europe, came to do jobs that Europeans did not want to do at that time, but today the situation has changed, as we have reached 5th & 6th generations of African Diaspora in Europe, the new generations are educated and as qualified as the rest.

Europe constitutes one of the continents that has the biggest African community; we are about 4.5 million in France, 2, 8 million in UK, 1 million in Italy,1 million in Spain 817,500 in Germany, more than 300,000 in Belgium…

We must acknowledge that the Diaspora is a phenomenon of our times, the Diaspora represents a huge potential for the states, and it is outstandingly situated to contribute to the boosting of the economic growth and opulence in Africa and Europe.

I hope this Forum will serve as a starting point for solutions to these related issues that will bring huge opportunities for both continents on different levels.

Sana: VAS Organization is preparing a huge forum that will gather leaders, experts, international organizations an over 200 participants from all over the Diaspora and the world, representing different organizations and groups, the objective behind is to create a bridge of connection. What are your expectations for the Afro-Euro cooperation?

Mr. Yassine: The Afro-Euro cooperation is something that has existed on papers for long time, and it remained as a wish and promise, today this vision should be an action rather than a wish and a promise, and it should be based on mutual respect and mutual benefits and the two continents have the resources and the capitals to make it a win/win case.

The African diaspora in Europe can be the bridge between Africa and Europe in this cooperation. Here I remember an African Proverb that says “alone you can go fast together we can go far”

Sana: Very powerful, in one sentence what is your best advice for youth taking part in this forum this year?

Mr. Yassine: The world is changing, and we all need to learn how to adjust, and by saying all I don’t mean the African diaspora only.

I also believe that youth should not only think of finding jobs, but they should think out of the box and try to create jobs.

Sana: Wow, very inspiring, thank you for your time. See you in Vienna!

Mr. Yassine: Thank to you Sana for having me, special thanks to VAS and all the team working hard on organizing the Forum, See you in Vienna!

Meanwhile, this year VAS organization is tackling its actions and attention to bring in innovation approaches for youth and governments to face the situation of unemployment, by providing youth a platform where they can improve their expertise and knowledge to meet the needs of the job market. VAS organization organizes an annual event where both leaders of the world and youth meet to discuss and work on ways to create solutions and opportunities for young generation to be a development contributor.

VAS’s Delegates from all over Europe and Africa are putting in final preparations ahead of the “African Diaspora Youth Forum”, hosted by United Nations in Vienna. The main theme of the forum “Unlocking Youth Potential”

From Vienna, Mr. Ibrahima Djiguine, representative of VAS organization and the Co-project manager of this year event. Sana caught up with Mr. Ibrahim for a brief chat, ahead of the forum in Vienna.

received_10204235940372031

Sana: First, thank you Mr. Ibrahim for taking the time to chat with us, it must be a very busy period now for you as the forum date is approaching, and let me congratulate you on being a model for Africans living in the Diaspora. Out of the many Africans, you have been chosen by VAS organization as successful model I believe it’s because of a proven record of hard work in enhancing the African development. Can you share a brief background of the work you do?

Mr. Ibrahim: Thank you Sana for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Our mission is to create a suitable environment for academic success, promotion of culture, encourage entrepreneurship and solidarity for positive change. I have been since a year now a member of VAS and I was the co project manager of last year’ International Youth Conference. Our work involves different fields of activities with different projects.

We organize Forums and conferences with the goal of organizing and empowering the Youth to join growing movement and raising awareness on tackling the challenges faced by the Diaspora living in Europe.

We cooperate in a network with other organizations and experts from the African Youth, Youth in general and other important stakeholders all over the world. Our recent focus in the latest conference was capacity building, coordination of projects, networking and cooperation.

Sana: What are your challenges and best success story as African living in the Diaspora?

Mr. Ibrahim: There are many challenges involved in finding opportunities to investment, employment and most of all room for creative entrepreneurs to start new businesses for sustainable growth in Africa.

We try our best to motivate millions of Diaspora to invest their Finance back home and contribute their skills to the advance. Fostering entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainable development of our countries is our ambitions and this is not found to be easy not only for Africa but other parts of the world. However through our training programs and workshops we discuss ways how the Diaspora can participate in the development of our countries mainly in policy making and decision making levels.

Sana: As an active symbol of African in the Diaspora, how would you describe the current situation of Africans in Diaspora in your home country, and how do you manage to contribute in the development of your country?

Mr. Ibrahim: To answer this question I will start by mentioning that I have good feeling in general about how the Diaspora currently contribute to the advancement of their countries.

I strongly believe that the African Diaspora’s contribution as agents of Africa’s socioeconomic change should not be measured merely in financial terms, but as inputs of skilled labor and by its ability to build bridges between countries of origin and destination which help stimulate, not only economic activity, but transfers of knowledge and cultural and social norms.

There are several ways in which I participate to the development of my country. These ways include promoting development: Through innovation, broad based networks I am taking my love for Africa and applying it with ingenuity for good.

Creating greater awareness of Africa’s development issues

  • Increasing collaboration with other African Diaspora in development and mainstream International Development organizations
  • Contribute to the increasingly irrefutable evidence and recognition of the value that the African Diaspora brings to development efforts at home.

Sana: VAS Organization is preparing a huge forum that will gather over 200 participants from all over the Diaspora and the world, representing different organizations and groups. What is your best advice for them?

Mr. Ibrahim: As this is a continuation of last year’s international youth conference which was an outstanding one, I invite all the youth to come and have the opportunity to meet and share ideas with experts as well as networking and working closely together in order to coordinate international dialogue amongst important stakeholders for African development.

Sana: What are your expectations for the “African Diaspora Youth Forum in Europe”?

Mr. Ibrahim: My expectation is that after this forum I hope we will be able to make contributions to

  • Empower young people to be the shifters of the future, and to be active contributor in the political, social and economic development of Africa and Europe;
  • Create new opportunities to boost the social responsibility, integration and social entrepreneurship by enhancing Africa/Europe Youth Cooperation projects.
  • Establish a connection among young people, policy‐makers and the social partners to empower youth development in both regions Africa/Europe;
  • Share and exchange the best practices on youth employment, civic participation to meet the MDGs goals;

Sana: Very exciting, I have no doubt that VAS forum will be successful. Thank you for your time. See you in Vienna!

Mr. Ibrahim: Thank you for having me!

Advertisements

Morocco between the African and the Arab Identity

Standard

 

10258667_10204059058706602_929826661254224194_n

This short article is dedicated for all the Africans that said I’m not African and all the Arabs who said I’m not Arab.

The question of the Moroccan identity seems to be a debate that I always have to explain whenever I travel, especially when I meet some of my Africans and Arabs fellows, so Africans would ask me “where are you from?”, me” Morocco”, them: “Ah, you are an Arab who don’t admit the African origins”, then Arabs ask the same and then say “Oh you are the ones who don’t speak Arabic only French”. I’m not saying all the Africans and Arabs think the same way, but these answers and questions I’ve heard from many of them. Then I had to explain that Moroccan identity is mixed between the Arab, African and Amazighi culture, which make Morocco one of most diverse countries, with different languages, ethnics, cultures… But for some it seems not easy to understand.

This question is periphrastic, Morocco is situated at the peak of the African continent, and it stretches itself along the top of the Sahara all the way down to sub-Saharan Africa. It is linked to the Middle East as it shares the same mother tongue language and the same religions -Arabs are not only Muslims, There are Christian and Jews Arabs- and approximately the same political and social challenges.

Morocco is connected as well to Europe for the economic relations that gather not only Morocco to European Union, but as well Africa to Europe. Also, Morocco was colonized by France, so don’t get surprised when you hear a Moroccan speaking half French half Moroccan. To be honest, the French influence has dominant effects on the way Moroccans speak; you should expect that with some Moroccans you will have to speak French, otherwise you are underestimated. It is advantageous to master different languages, but it is bad when people are treated according to their level of French speaking.

Speaking of “Africanism”, which is far more imposing when studying Morocco’s history. Some of my African friends told me once “You guys aren’t Africans because you aren’t part of the African Union, you left the AU, so how come you consider yourselves Africans!”-i won’t answer this because it’s very political subject that will lead to another debate which is not the focus of this article- But anyway, Morocco is situated in the North of Africa, which means that geographically Morocco is an African country, if Morocco left the African Union, that’s because of a political reason, but Morocco still one of the most active African countries investing in Africa and it constitutes an open economic gate for sub-Saharan countries toward Europe.

From the other hand, I asked some Moroccans “Are you African?” and I got the most shocking answers -which is common between the North Africans though- they said:” Not really, Africans are black, but I’m not black” , and I was like “Should I be black do to be called African?”

Morocco politically and economically is focusing on Africa in the recent years, as many projects have been implemented so to foster the global economic of Africa. This shows how important Africa is for Morocco.

Now let’s talk about the Amazighi identity, the Amazighi people who constitute about 48 % of the population, which is the native identity of Morocco before the Arabs came to spread Islam religion, Arabs and Amazighi from then lived peacefully together and then founded the Moroccan identity, a mixture between the two identities, till 1930 when the Amazighi culture was denied and then divided the Arabs and the Amazighi, it was the easiest way for French colonizers to control the country, but even after the independence, Amazighi still didn’t feel conformable to speak Amazighi in public places or even to tell that they are Amazighi. From then on, there still stereotypes between the two groups which normally should constitute one group.

The situation has been improved now, as the language became official in the Morocco constitution, and the identity of Tamazight has been more and more integrated.

Arabs from the other hand criticize Morocco for not speaking pure Arabic in every daily life, but wait, there are no Arabs that speak exactly classical Arabic in their daily life, they speak Arabic accent like Egyptian, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Jordanian… These are accent not classical Arabic language; though it is true that Moroccan dialect is different since it is a mixture between Arabic, Tamazight, French and Spanish, but just because the other Arabs can’t understand the Moroccan accent, it doesn’t means that Moroccans don’t master the classical Arabic, for those who don’t know Arabic is the first official language of Morocco.

I believe that diversity is richness. I have always felt fortunate for the diversity in my country. I admire the fact that everything is different and yet so much alike. What I don’t like are the divisions that are based on such differences that should not minimize who we are or anyone else.

In Morocco, we can never speak of a pure race or ethnicity, everything is bonded and intermixed.

I believe this categorization of people is preposterous, since it disturbs our wonders from the beauty of us as diverse; a fusion and combination. We spend so much time identifying differences and putting barriers between “us” and “them”; whoever “us” and “them” are.

Next time don’t ask me to choose whether I’m African or Arab, and don’t you dare to question if I’m Amazighi or Arab. I’m Moroccan, I’m mixture between them all, I’m African, I’m Arab, I’m Amazighi, I’m Andaloussi…

What difference would that make to you now? Would you treat me any different? Better or worse?

#MYCM #AYCM-Morocco “Moroccan Women rise up for climate justice”

Standard

Moroccan Women rise up for climate justice

From across Morocco, women ( activists, farmers, Students,….) rise their voice by joining one billion rising and women’s earth and climate action network International Day of action on February 14th to demand climate justice and sustainable solutions for climate crisis !

1797593_482258505219934_818125187_n

“It is our the mission not only as women but as human beings to care for, reserve and promote the resources of environment, we have to be aware of the environmental issues impacting on the world today and we must do something before our resources are gone. It’s a duty to show respect for the environment and living. Everyone is affected and everyone is responsible. It is a matter that cannot be unnoticed and act must be taken to realm something that is exceptional to humankind which is environment.
There is no refuting that global climate change problems are going to endure to get worse if nothing is done to resolve them. Concerns like these will produce disastrous consequences on the economic, political, and social heights in the 21st century if the global climate change situation continues to decline at its current amount. Solving these issues is crucial.
As woman leader, I’m looking to confront the climate crisis and to reach the social justice, this is why I’m interested in the climate change issue and I believe in the leadership abilities that women all over the world have that will lead them to build a better world with a clean climate.

Women ! Go green ! because we can do it !”

Sanaa Afouaiz


Vice-President
Moroccan Youth Climate Movement
Arab Youth Climate Movement – Morocco

Check the campaign from here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.482258328553285.1073741832.275042005941586&type=3

 

The Amendment of Article 475 of the Moroccan law, An Emotional Story!

Standard

This article was published on “The Voice of Women Initiative”, ckeck: http://vowinitiative.org/2014/01/27/1793/

201312401021103734_20

During the 16 days of activism against violence, I wrote about an emotional story in my country, the story of the innocent Amina Al Fili who killed herself after being forced by law (the article 475) to marry her rapist.

The Article 475 of the Moroccan law cites that a rapist can escape punishment if he marries his victim.  It is called “Reparations agreement “between the family of the victim and the family of the rapist”.

Amina Al Filali couldn’t stand to live a miserable life, since she was beaten, deprived of food and insulted all the time by her rapist who used to call her “dishonest” girl -even if it was because of him- then Amina decided to make an end to her life.  She wanted her voice her  be heard and do something about this unacceptable situation that many Moroccan girls face every time.

Her death shocked many Moroccan people, received widespread media coverage and sparked protests in the capital Rabat as well as other cities in order to amend this article and establish social justice.

Her case provoked deep emotion in the country. For media, blogosphere, human right activists, women and men … her death was marked by a dispute of exceptional magnitude on the issue of rape and the place of women in our society. Moroccans felt the need that it is high time to make an end to this article, before it ends for the life of many other victims.

With today’s social movements and social networks, this case couldn’t pass unnoticed. The news of Amina’s suicide, generated a national debate at an extensive scale in Morocco. Even the government has dedicated the greater interest of its weekly meeting on this issue, that from the one hand is inhuman; and on the other hand disadvantageous to the image of Morocco in the international community.

Finally!! the parliament of Morocco has solidly amended the article 475 of the penal code that allowed rapists of marry their victims and avoid jail.

Now! we can make sure that no one can rape a girl and then marry her… no more rights will be violated… no more girls will kill themselves…

Thanks to all the Moroccans activists who believed in Amina’s case… the real Moroccans who helped to put an end to this nightmare… the Moroccans who did their best to fight for social justice…

A special thanks to our dearest Amina… she is a symbol of inspiration… physically she is no longer here… but her soul will always be around… thanks Amina for saving other girls.

Amina R.I.P, we will always remember you!

Sana AFOUAIZ