Celebrating Scouting’s Contribution to the Development of Africa
“The future of Africa, and indeed the entire world, to a great extent, depends on the efforts it deploys to promote and develop its human resources, particularly its youth. Young people will be called upon to assume various responsibilities in their respective countries and therefore their education constitutes a decisive stage in preparing them for active life. (OAU - CM/Res. 1580 - 1615 (LXII). This is a role that Scouting remains committed to playing in order to ensure that young people are provided with the widest range possible of opportunities to learn and develop.” Frederic Kama-Kama, Regional Director Africa Scout Region
KAMPALA-UGANDA: 13th March is a very special day for Scouting in the Africa Region. It is marked annually as the Africa Scout Day!
The day was set aside by the African Union back in 1995 in recognition of the contribution of the Scouting Movement to the development of Africa and indeed the world in general. The Africa Scout Day helps us to remind ourselves how young people, supported by adult volunteers make a difference to the communities they live in.
Every year Scouts congregate in a particular country to celebrate this day. This year’s All Africa Scout Day celebrations took place in the Ugandan capital of Kampala; under the theme “Scouting: Africa’s Leading Social Force for Youth Empowerment.”
Over 1,000 Scouts from 11 countries - Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana; attended the celebrations – which were held at Kaazi National Scout Camp on the shores of Lake Victoria. The event was preceded by a 2-days camp on 11th and 12th March during which the Scouts engaged in various activities, culminating with the main celebrations on 13th March.
The main celebration was graced by among others, the Chairperson and members of the Africa Scout Committee, Regional Director and Staff of the World Scout Bureau - Africa Regional Office, Vice Chairperson of the World Scout Committee, Deputy Commissioner of Uganda Prisons Service, Representative of the Chief of Uganda People’s Defense Forces and the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development in the Government of Uganda. The chief guest was His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda, - representing the President.
In Mr. Joao Armando, Chairperson of the World Scout Committee’s message to the Scouts of Africa, delivered by Ms. Jemima Nartey – the Vice Chairperson of the World Scout Committee, he observes that, “Long before multilateral organizations such as the United Nations and other civil society organizations started to work on urbanization issues, Scouts in African countries have not only been active in their small communities through important deeds and activities to bring positive change, but they have also been actively assisting their national development programmes.”
He further reiterates that, “Service is a key component of Scouting’s education where young people learn that everyone can make a difference, especially through discovering the agency in themselves to help create a better world. As active citizens, Scouts contribute immensely, transforming homes, streets, neighbourhoods, cities and eventually their countries and the larger society they are part of.”
On his part, the Regional Director, Mr. Frederic Kama-Kama said; “By bringing up empowered and socially aware individuals, the movement helps to prepare these young people for a life of service as responsible adults and leaders in society. Over the years, the movement has continued to produce men and women of good character who go to serve their countries and societies in various capacities and thereby contributing to the creation of a better world – through the knowledge and skills that they acquire through their Scouting experiences.”
He appreciated the African Union for giving high level recognition to the work of the movement in Africa; the Government of Uganda for the support so far given to the Association in hosting the event and the upcoming Africa Scout Conference and Youth Forum; and all Governments and partners who have honoured the African Union’s pledge to support the development of Scouting in Africa.
While also thanking the many volunteers and staff that work tirelessly to keep Scouting vibrant in the region, he strongly commended the Scouts in many African countries who continue, on a daily basis, to successfully undertake community development projects in food production, health, hygiene, literacy programmes among others - that directly contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the concerned populations.
Hon. Wilson Muruli Mukasa, the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social development reiterated his ministry’s and the government’s commitment to supporting the Scouting movement in the country.
In President Museveni’s statement, read on his behalf by the Vice President H. E. Edward Ssekandi, the President commended the movement for being on the forefront in empowering, equipping and inspiring young people to be a positive force for change. He noted that young people can be a driving force in creating positive changes in their communities and the world. This, he says, helps to improve the living standards and ignite economic growth. The size, energy, innovation and dynamism of youth are assets that can be harnessed for Africa’s development with appropriate policies that deal adequately with the issues facing them.
“The Scout Law instills in our young people values that should stand the test of time and make them useful citizens. Scouting gives them the opportunity to work together and grow. The character of Scouts has always been value!” he added.
He finished by assuring Uganda Scouts Association of his continued support to the cause of Scouting and promises to engage all his counterparts across Africa to do the same.
This year’s celebration also provided an opportunity for Uganda Scouts Association to showcase one of their special projects, which could be the first of its kind in the world- Scouting at Murchison Bay Prison!
This is a community service project initiated in February 2015 under the Messengers of Peace programme. In less than 2 months the Murchsion Bay Prison Scouts Troop has grown to over 50 members. They are very well organized and undertake various activities including; regular troop meetings, life skills training, community work in support of prison programmes and leadership training to enable them support Scouting back in their districts when they finish serving their jail terms.
In the words of the Deputy Officer In-charge, Mr. Joel Kiggundu, “Having the Scouting movement introduced in the prison has completely transformed the prison environment. We are very happy and look forward to working with Uganda Scouts Association to upscale this in our other facilities.”
This is a story that reflects the movement’s intention of “reaching out” to make Scouting accessible to as many people as possible. It also cements the fact that Scouting is a movement that has proven its mettle in the areas of education and moulding of young people, as well as in the training of adults…. This is why we celebrate the Africa Scout Day!