If you believe and I believe, then Africa will be saved! These stirring words, had all delegates on their feet, holding hands and singing from their hearts at the close of a colourful and emotional opening ceremony of the 10th Ordinary General Meeting of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA).
Held in Dakar, Senegal, on 2 June 2015, the ceremony was attended by 150 delegates from 18 different African countries, and partners from 8 different international YMCAs or YMCA-associated organisations.
Evelyne Sami Sadio, Vice President of the AAYMCA, set the scene with her opening words: “Every four years we gather together, not only as a constitutional requirement, but to share our successes, find solutions to our challenges and in recent years, to celebrate our cohesion as a continental movement. We are proudly African and rooted in our African heritage and realities… we cherish our ecumenism and our place as a Christian organisation working in a multi-faith environment… and we have created a niche in our youth focus and Subject to Citizen philosophy and change model. We are the African YMCA movement!”
A most colourful and energetic roll call was enacted through a flag ceremony, with youth carrying the flags of their countries and delegates joining in the dancing and festivities. Poems and songs carried the formal programme which included speeches by Adrien Coly, President of the Senegal YMCA, James Ekow Rhule, President of the AAAYMCA, Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, Secretary General of World YMCA, and Gabriel Preira, Secretary General of the Ministry of Youth, Senegal.
Majory Mambwe, S2C Ambassador from Zambia YMCA, gave a strong testimony on her journey of youth empowerment and had many in tears with her as she struggled to contain her emotions.
And so the scene was set… proudly African, we joined together to celebrate our unity through diversity. Together we are moving forward as an African YMCA movement. Together, we are striving for the African Renaissance. Together, we believe.
Gil Harper, International and Corporate Affairs, AAYMCA