As part of our special report on African youth, guest editor Nqabisa Faku gives her personal take on what constitutes the African dream.
The ‘African dream’ is made up of a myriad collection of desires: the wish to address the legacies of colonisation, slavery, and other forms of domination and crimes against humanity to achieve self-sufficiency, and advance social justice and equality in our societies for sustainable futures.
In contemporary times, the African dream has come to mean many representations of hope, pan-Africanism, respect, empowerment and working together towards a common goal.
In recent years, we have youth-led social movements: #FeesMustFall and #RhodesMustFall, which have drawn our attention to reclaiming our own idea of progress for a better future for the next generations.
In 1996, Vicky Sampson sang a song of hope titled “African Dream” at the Africa Cup of Nations. This was the first tournament that the South African soccer team won after the country became a democratic state in 1994.
There is a verse that goes, “ Cause in my African dream there is a new tomorrow / My African dream is a dream that we can follow / And though it would seem my hope is an illusion / My African dream is an end to the confusion.”
This song is inspirational and reminds me of the power that lies in using our voices to speak against social injustices while leveraging our natural resources, leadership, talents, skills and taking the necessary action together to bring about change.
Sumona Bose, an MPhil student in Justice and Transformation from the University of Cape Town (UCT), says: “My African dream is good leadership, transparent governance embedded with cultural equity, and a holistic sense of socio-economic fulfilment.
“As a continent that is rich in resources and skills, it is visionary to pursue unity and productivity on all fronts, with our eyes on a sustainable future that boasts of justice and accountability, combined with success and optimism.”
For the African continent, democracy, structural transformation, feminism, good governance, and respect are some ultimate conditions we need to magnify the AU’s Agenda 2063. It has an African dream of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
Agenda 2063 is a 50-year commitment (since its inception in 2013) to move us forward. Agenda 2063 has begun activating inclusive and sustainable development through initiatives such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
The agenda embodies the African Renaissance and the principles of pan-Africanism which are unity and solidarity, self-determination, self-reliance, progress, human dignity, and economic freedom.
There is an African proverb: “When a bird builds its nest, it uses the feathers of other birds.” It means, through co-operation and mutual understanding, we can resolve any challenge.
It delivers a message of consolation for youth who hold a similar African dream to Siviwe Cingo, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar from UCT: “I pray for an equal society. A society that is peaceful and grounded on the principle of communality rather than individuality. That we practice ubuntu if we are to become a community.
“An African community that is united to make it possible for a child who must walk a couple of kilometres to school to make it to university. Furthermore, may we realise the dream of not being a people that bite each other but feed each other, meaning may we be Africans that do not steal and kill each other but Africans that extend a hand when another African is in need.”
For any African dream to come to fruition, education is the most powerful tool that we can use to think of innovative manifestations, strategic frameworks, progressive policies, and other solutions to resolve the challenges that Africans and the continent face today.
Read more from our special report African Youth Speaks.