ETHIOPIA – For a week, 11th to 16th March 2013, Addis Ababa became the capital of Africa Scouting, as Scouts and Scouts leaders from across the continent converged at the Addis Ababa University College of Development Studies for events around the All Africa Scout Day celebrations. The overriding theme for this year celebrations was “Scouts promoting good citizenship and peace”.
The events were officially launched on Monday March 11, 2013, at the National Palace With His Excellency Girma Woldegiorgis, the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, who is also the Patron of the Ethiopia Scout Association, as the Chief Guest. In his opening speech, Dr. Wayne Adrian Davis, the Chief Commissioner of Ethiopia Scout Association and member of the Africa Scout Committee, paid tribute to the Scouts and Scout leaders of Ethiopia for the revival of the Movement in the country and recognized the support from the national government, the World Scout Bureau and development partners.
In turn, Dr. Costantinos Berhe, stressed the importance of the All Africa Scout Day being celebrated in Addis Ababa, at a time where the Africa Union that had established this day 18 years ago in the same city is poised to celebrate its golden jubilee later this year in the same city. He went on to note the significance of Scouting as a value-based non-formal education movement, especially for a continent where scramble for resources has often led to violent conflict.
In their speeches, Mr. Gilbert Mussumba and Mr. Frederic Tutu Kama-Kama, the Chairperson of the Africa Scout Committee and the Regional Director, World Scout Bureau Africa regional office, respectively, also lauded the government of Ethiopia for the support extended to the Scout Movement. In particular, they praised His Excellency Girma Woldegiorgis for his personal involvement with the cause of Scouting and the young people in general. Mr. Gilbert and Mr. Frederic also called upon the Ethiopian Scouts in particular and African Scouts in general to uphold Scout values that are portrayed in the Scout law and promise.
In his speech, His Excellency Girma Woldegiorgis, echoed the sentiments expressed by the previous speakers and reiterated his commitment for the cause of young people. He went on to say that he is proud to be associated with the Scout Movement as a way to instill character and values in young people and making them responsible for their own lives and for the entire society. In solidarity with the Movement and as a way of closing the official launch of the events around the All Africa Scout Day celebrations, he invited all present to share in the refreshment.
The actual All Africa Scout Day celebration took place on 13th March at Oromia State Regional Offices, also in Addis Ababa, with over 500 Ethiopian Scouts and over 50 Scouts from the rest of Africa (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, D.R Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe), as well as representatives of government agencies and diplomatic missions in Ethiopia, in attendance.
The day started off with the planting of trees at the University ground, to showcase the commitment of the Scout Movement to the welfare of the community and its care for environment. The chairperson of the Africa Scout Committee, Messengers of Peace representatives and representatives of Ethiopia Scout Association laid the process in planting three symbolic trees which were specifically entrusted to the care of Ethiopia Scout Association. This was followed by a panel discussion on “Scouts promoting good citizenship and peace” at Oromia State Regional Offices. The panel discussion was introduced by Dr. Costantinos Berhe who highlighted challenges faced by Africa, despite its enormous natural resources, and the need for Scouts and all other actors to be involved in the development of the continent, as a way to ensure peace. The discussions were then led by four youths who share their aspirations and expectations for a better Africa.
A message from Mr. Scott Teare, WOSM Secretary General, congratulating African Scouts and Scout leaders on the occasion of the Africa Scout Day and urging them to continue spreading the message of peace around them, was also read during the tree planting session and the panel discussion.
The ceremony at Oromia State Regional offices was concluded by a traditional dance and a song prepared and composed by Ethiopian Scouts for the Africa Scout Day. In the evening, Scouts from different regions of Ethiopia showcased their traditions, including traditional clothing and traditional dances, at a coffee ceremony. The celebrations ended by an all-night campfire where different Scouting games were taught to each other.