Akon Tells Africans in Diaspora ‘Not to Forget Home’

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By Kalinda Brenda

Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam famously known as Akon has told the African youth living abroad to always rebrand Africa and be part of its development.

“The role of the youth in diaspora is to give back to their home countries. Be proud of your country and think of how to take part in promoting and developing it,” he said.

Akon is among the key speakers addressing more than 2000 participants of the ongoing Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Kigali.

On Friday, he was part of a session that mobilized African youth towards Africa, the ‘Youth in Diaspora’.

In his testimony, he said that thought he was born in Africa and grew in America, he always wanted to give back to where he came from.

“I did not want to be remembered for singing and dancing. Therefore I figured out something that will help me leave a legacy,” he said, adding that’s how ‘Akon Lighting Africa’ initiative was created.

“The initiative is more from diaspora but giving more to where I came from,” Akon said advising youth in diaspora to think about Africa as their motherland.

Explaining more the ‘Africa, the Motherland’, Akon said “mothers go through turmoil raising us, but they never get credit. That’s why Africa is called the motherland, it helped raise all other countries.”

In addition, he advised the youth to always have an ear for the elder because however smart this generation could be, there is always a need for a direction from the elders.

“As the youth we keep the ball rolling, we are visionaries but we should also take advises from elders,” he said.

“The unity between older and younger generation is the secret of Africa,” he added.

Akon appreciated the system of Rwanda which is becoming a role model to other countries especially in empowering youth and women

“Women are much empowered here, and everything here is organized unlike other places in Africa,” he said.

“Women in Rwanda are active even in higher positions,” he added as the participants cheered.

On the same panel with the music star, Mike Mwenedata, the founder of Rwanda Bean, a local coffee, beans shop encouraged the youth to explore opportunities available in the continent especially in agriculture sector.

“We all know that agriculture is not the new cool for this generation but I try to encourage my fellow youth to dare and engage with farmers,” he said.

Mwenedata was speaking from experience. Rwanda Bean works with 300 farmers who supply them with their harvest. After selling to international markets, they share returns with the farmers.

“There are so many opportunities in agriculture and a lot can be done from the sector hence rebranding Africa.”

Akon requested the youth to be open and ask for help whenever necessary and youth in diaspora will always be there to support.

“Tell us what you need and we shall support you fellow Africans,” he said.

Rwanda is among the 14 African countries where Akon plans to launch his initiative that aims to bring electricity to 600 million Africans, especially those in rural areas.

Launched in February 2014, ‘The Akon Lighting Africa’ is reported to have secured a one billion U.S. dollar credit line from a Chinese company – China Jiangsu International Group.



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