by Stanley Azuakola
The Future Awards Africa (TFAA) team intends to visit 100 African cities in one year as part of events leading up to its 10th anniversary. The tour, they say, will help re-focus attention on the issues faced by young Africans, emphasise how members of their “global brain trust” across the world have solved these issues and then set up hubs of past winners, nominees, partners and volunteers in each city they visit to help solve the problems.
The early cities visited by the TFAA team received blasé responses from the watching public. Enugu, Banjul, Ibadan, Akure, Port Harcourt and Kano are all important cities in their own rights, but the visit by the TFAA team felt almost too routine to make people stop and pay close attention. Then last week, the team stepped into the heart of Nigeria’s ongoing war against terror and the lives scarred as a result, when they visited the towns of Chibok, Mubi and Yola. Their mission – same as with all the other cities visited – was not just to highlight challenges, but go beyond that to “spotlight inspiring stories and set up hubs to solve problems at scale.”
Co-founder of TFAA and managing partner of RED, Chude Jideonwo, led that leg of the tour himself, despite having been absent on all the other stops. “I had to go,” Jideonwo told The ScoopNG in an email. “I just had to go. I wanted to walk the talk.” He said that “engagement, advocacy, problem solving are more effective when the person passionate about the issue gets his or her hands dirty.”
Jideonwo, who laments the limits of his humanity as an individual managing three firms and who cannot physically be present at every stop of the tour, said he decided to go to the “most at-risk areas” because the image of doing first before asking others to do is important.
Chibok is the town in Borno state where over 200 school girls were kidnapped in 2014, leading to the birth of the worldwide #BringBackOurGirls movement. The girls remain missing till date. Yola and Mubi, the two largest and most important towns in Adamawa state, have suffered severe disruptions in normal life as a result of insurgency. The latter town was overrun by terrorists who chased out an army contingent stationed there in 2014 and hoisted their flags, shutting down schools and offices. The most prominent educational institution in the town, the Mubi Polytechnic, only reopened in June 2015, eight months after the attack. Yola, meanwhile, continues to suffer bomb attacks with the most recent occurring last month when suicide bombers struck at a mosque during Friday prayers. Over 20 people lost their lives.
“The stories and the people we have met on this trip have confirmed some of our worst fears, but more importantly also fired up our resolve,” said Jideonwo after the tour. “There is so much work we have to do, and we are building a network of problem solvers across the continent to engage, solve and sustain the solutions to these problems.”
Mohamed Diaby, another member of the TFAA Central Working Committee, from Abidjan, said even though they have seen enough challenges and issues during the tour to cause worry, they remain “determined to lead an army of young people, through our hubs, to do this urgent work, to solve these problems.”
Three such hubs have now been set up by TFAA in Mubi with the Initiative for Human Rights; in Yola with Centre for Caring, Empowerment and Peace Initiative (CCEPI) and in Chibok with the Red Cross. According to the organisers, the hubs will work together with the Global TFAA Secretariat to “pull resources and media attention to solve the identified problems in each community.”
Up next is Johannesburg, South Africa, which will be the last stop for phase one of the tour. The Future Awards Africa 2015 will be hosted in Lagos on Sunday, 6 December, 2015.