where is the rage?

Last night, as part of the Global Youth Partnership for Africa’s July Student Global Ambassador Immersion on youth, development and peace-building, I got the chance to hear Steven Okello speak.

Steven is the Country Director of Resolve Uganda, an advocacy organization that evolved out of the Uganda Conflict Action Network. He is an Acholi, and last night he shared his personal experiences and perspectives of the conflict. Steven is an incredibly eloquent, passionate speaker, and what struck me most as he was talking last night was that he was undeniably angry.

A year and a half ago I attended a lecture by Dr. Stephen Schwenke on development ethics in Uganda. During his talk, he asked the audience, “Where is the rage?” He wanted to know, and wanted us to be curious about, what the prevailing attitude towards the conflict is in Uganda. He was surprised that more people hadn’t taken to the streets to scream and yell and demonstrate. They have so many reasons to be angry — why isn’t that anger more visible?
As Steven spoke last night, I could sense his rage, and in some ways, it was refreshing. He is exactly the kind of passionate young leader Uganda needs, and his talk resounded with the Immersion participants. I can’t wait to see the range of emotions they will display over the next two weeks of this conference, and I hope that they (and I) have the courage to be angry about the last two decades of violence in this country. I believe that anger will motivate us to find new solutions and to keep working for peace.

GYPA Immersion Program: Youth, Development and Peace-building

I gushed a little bit earlier about the Global Kimeeza II, a program of the Global Youth Partnership for Africa, an organization I’ve been involved with for a little over a year and a half. GYPA leads regular conferences for American and Ugandan youth leaders that focus on how young people can actively participate in finding solutions to the variety of challenges Africa faces.

I credit GYPA with cementing my interest in development issues as a whole and in Uganda in particular. For this reason, I am crazy excited to announce the first of our two summer immersion programs: Youth, Development & Peace-building.

These immersions are open to Ugandans ages 18-30 who are already involved in community development projects and/or youth leadership initiatives. The programs will take place in Kampala and Gulu, so applicants are encouraged to apply for the location that best suits them. Spots will fill up quickly, so apply soon — applications for the July trip are due no later than Saturday, June 16, 2007.

July Applications


Please feel free to spread the applications around to your friends, colleagues, and anyone else you think may be interested. More information is in the application, but please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have at rebekah@gypafrica.org.

July: Youth, Development & Peace-Building

Today Uganda lies at a crossroads. Last fall, peace talks brought about a cessation of hostilities in the 20-year civil war in northern Uganda; now is a critical time to examine the political situation and engage in the processes of reconstruction and reintegration. The end of the conflict brings with it dramatic challenges as well as opportunities. It is clear that youth will continue to be the driving forces behind development and peace-building in this fragile post-conflict environment. The goal of the Immersion is to provide a platform for Americans and Ugandans to explore the important role that youth play in post-conflict Uganda by sharing experiences, ideas, approaches, and strategies.

July’s program will provide opportunities for young global leaders to explore topics such as peace-building, poverty alleviation, post-conflict rehabilitation, HIV/AIDS, and gender issues, among others. Participants will meet with political, academic, and cultural experts and engage with local communities in dialogue, cultural exchange, and direct service.

August: Youth, Development & Health

I encourage those who are interested in Public Health issues to consider applying for the August Immersion. Applications will be available next month. Feel free to contact me with any questions in the meantime.

Uganda was one of the first countries in the world to come face-to-face with the devastating impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic; it was also one of the first to respond successfully to control its spread. As a result, Uganda has been heralded as a model across Sub-Saharan Africa. The August Immersion will focus on the following questions: What role did the Government’s strategy play in combating HIV/AIDS? How has the international community assisted in Uganda’s fight against other dramatic health challenges such as malaria and tuberculosis? What effect does the 20-year civil war in North Uganda have on the various health problems facing the country? What tools do grassroots and civil-society organizations utilize to improve access to health care and treatment? How are women and children affected differently by health crises? What can you do to help?

Participants will also examine many other interrelated issues facing Uganda, such as post-conflict development, poverty alleviation, and democracy-building and will have a unique opportunity to interact with a wide variety of people. The program will include direct service with community-based organizations, international non-governmental organizations, and young leaders from the United States.

Global Youth Partnership for Africa

The Global Youth Partnership for Africa (GYPA), a non-profit organization based in Washington DC and Kampala, Uganda, seeks to fundamentally change the way Americans and Africans engage with and understand each other. GYPA fosters relationships between accomplished and emerging youth leaders in Africa and the United States. The partnerships forged this July and August will promote fresh, pragmatic perspectives on Africa’s challenges and encourage participants to work together for innovative, practical solutions.