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"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher

The Africa Young Graduates and Scholars (AYGS) held its 11th annual conference from the 13th to the 14th of March 2017 at the Birchwood hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference was co-hosted by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) together with the University of Fort Hare. The theme was: “Re-imagining Leadership and Gender for Sustainable Development”.

Developing African leaders

Professor Alphonse Keasley from the University of Colorado Boulder, USA, was among the two keynote speakers who share the important aspects of leadership development. His talk placed more emphasis on two types of leadership i.e. self-leadership and authentic leadership. Personally, I found Prof Keasley’s presentation very interesting, because he explained leadership clearly and made me believe that anyone can be a leader despite their gender, background or financial status.

AYGS 2017 provided an excellent platform to young graduates across the African continent to be part of decision making for future developments such as ensuring food security and health for the continent. Furthermore, the conference created a platform where young African graduates could network as well as share their knowledge and research outcomes.  

After having been equipped with knowledge and insight on leadership, graduates were allowed the opportunity to present their work on issues pertaining to climate change and adaptation strategies, capacity building for social change, gender and culture, youth, gender & inclusion and community coping.

Interesting research findings

From most of the papers that were presented, it was found that, compared to women, men participate the most in decision and policy making. It was also concluded that men are still dominant in leadership positions throughout the continent. However, I found this wrong because the women’s potential on leadership and decision making is undermined and suppressed. Therefore, gender equality has to be achieved by empowering women and girls to ensure their utmost participation in decision-making. This can be achieved by giving them the opportunity to get involved in leadership. Also, initiatives inviting more women and showing them that they are welcome to decision making positions are important. Attainment of gender equality will promote economic growth by making use of human talent, accepting differences and diversity so as to maximise the influence of people in economic and social progress.

                              A panel of paper presenters on Capacity building for social change.

Where to from here?

Emphasis was put on the fact that youth face various challenges that act as boundaries that prevent them from reaching their goals. It was thus suggested that thorough research needs to be conducted in order to reveal and address the challenges they face, so as to come up with the best possible but realistic solutions.

My most treasured experience, apart from knowledge acquisition was the opportunity to be a “rapporteur”. This experience has allowed my reporting and writing skills to grow.  I must say this was an amazing experience!   



Prof. Muchenje with Zizipho Mdikili, Lumka Dastile & Prof. Mushunje with the   Rapporteurs.

Zizipo Mdikili

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