Since 1977, the Commonwealth family has celebrated Commonwealth Day every year on the second Monday in March. This falls on the 9 th of March 2015 this year. It is a day marked by activities around the Commonwealth, including a multi-faith observance at Westminster Abbey in London attended by the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Across Africa today, young people, schools, communities and civil society organisations across the globe, will celebrate Commonwealth Day with the theme, #A Young Commonwealth.
With 30% of the world’s population living across 53 Commonwealth countries, and 60 % of that number corresponding to people under 30, this theme, #A Young Commonwealth reflects the enormous power, might and potential of the youth, in building economies and publics that are strong, fair and sustainable.
This theme of # A Young Commonwealth is reiterated in the Commonwealth Day affirmation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth, who writes that a Young Commonwealth:
‘…. Is a globally diverse and inclusive community that opens up new possibilities for development through trust and encouragement’.
Similarly, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma affirms:
‘Together, the diversity and youth of the Commonwealth open up unrivalled opportunities, enabling our citizens to learn from the experiences of others, and to share new ideas developed in a wide range of contexts….youth and progress through innovation are at the heart of the Commonwealth’.
In years past, there has been a perception of African youth as vestiges of despair rather than pillars of hope. This theme of # A Young Commonwealth puts an end to that thesis, by recognizing the youth to be ‘agents of change’ rather than ‘objects of change’.
As the Commonwealth Organisation jostles for space in a crowded arena of non-governmental groups in the 21 st Century, we must always remember what sets us apart. We must remind ourselves of our distinctive characteristics of inclusiveness, diversity and youthfulness. Most importantly, we must not forget that we have a shared history and a strong ‘common wealth’.
MR. JOHN APEA, THE ROYAL COMMONWEALTH SOCIETY, AFRICA REPRESENTATIVE
MISS. MINA MENSAH, COMMONWEALTH HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE, AFRICA COORDINATOR
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