On October, October 24th seven innocent children were brutally murdered, and many others seriously wounded in a raid that was carried out in a school in Kumba, South West Region of Cameroon. The barbaric nature of such an incident on children who should receive the greatest protection from society, attracted the condemnation form all the International and Continental institutions of the world. The Pope and many other religious leaders came out strongly to deplore this unfathomable crime. Under such circumstances, I could only pause to meditate on what our world was becoming. All African leaders if not most of them, preach that the youth are the future of the continent. In amazing contradiction, they do nothing to empower the youth. Well there have been some signs lately that have made me feel there is hope yet! This week I resume by profiling three ladies of exception, in the prime of their youth who have become members of the government of their countries, Chad, Botswana and Namibia.
Amina Priscille Longoh, a 29-years-old Chadian who is a journalist with keen interest in humanitarianism, is Chad’s Minister of Women and Protection of Children. In her speech on assuming her position as Minster she said, “My appointment is proof that the youth are being honoured.”
Ms. Longoh is the Founder of Chad Helping Hands which focuses in Chad is on helping people meet their basic needs – so that they can then focus on building a better future for themselves and their families. Her age and her beauty do not betray the fact that she is intelligent, hardworking and the expert in communication who she is has also succeeded in making her mark in the petroleum sector. Priscille Longoh has always shown great determination hence her excellent career oil sector and a seamless transition the rank of Minister. A recognized and respected woman by the Chadian women, it is no surprise to anyone that she is currently the Chairperson of the “Maison National de la Femme”. During the celebrations of the “Day of the African Woman” She used the occasion to state why this day has been celebrated since 1962.
“It was created to recognize and affirm the role played by women for the political freedom of Africa”. It is also a framework for promoting social and economic status on the continent. This day offers the opportunity to recall and affirm the place of African women in the development of a strong Pan-African identity with values for a just and prosperous society “. This indeed her thinking of the role of the African woman in our continent. So, this is Minister Longoh, a pioneer called upon to be a mentor for the youth and women of Chad.
Bogolo J. Kenewendo is an African economist and Managing Director of Kenewendo Advisory. She is the former Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Botswana a position she occupied and the age 30 years and became and instant media sensation as the youngest Botswanan Minister ever. In September 2009 Kenewendo was one of two Botswana youth delegates at the 64th Session of the United Nations General Assembly and was nominated to present a statement of African youth to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. She has also taken part in a number of prestigious programmes including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office International Leaders Programme in 2016, A variation of the US President Obama’s YALI for Young Women Leaders in 2011. After taking part in the young African women leaders’ forum which was hosted by Michelle Obama in 2011, she and her friend were inspired to form a mentorship programme aimed at mentoring and exposing young women to experienced and successful women in Botswana. Kenewendo has worked as a trade economist in the ministry of trade and industry in Ghana. Her areas of expertise include Macroeconomic policy, public debt management, trade policy, export development, trade in services, regulatory frameworks, trade-related issues, trade and investment policy, industrial development policy, institutional frameworks for policy formulation, poverty alleviation, financial sector development. In 2012 Kenewendo was honoured with the Ten Outstanding Young Persons award by Junior Chamber International Botswana.
She holds an MSc in International Economics from the University of Sussex (UK) through the prestigious Chevening Scholarship. She is a certified Project Management PRINCE 2 practitioner and a BQA accredited trainer on economic issues. She is a member of the United Nations Secretary General (UN SG) António Guterres’ High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, advising him on a rising global trend and how the UN can push for more cooperation in that space. She is also a World Economic Forum (WEF) Young Global Leader (YGL, 2019) and a member of the WEF Global Future Council for Global Public Goods in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. She recently joined the RDC Properties board as a Non-Executive Independent Director.
For such an accomplished lady, who at 33 is already a former Minister who can be inspiring force? Her mother, who she describes as “resilient after suffering several strokes, surviving losing a child in front of her eyes and was never afraid to explore opportunities when given a chance”.
Namibia has produced the youngest if not one Africa’s youngest cabinet members. Emma Theofelus, 23, is Namibia’s information, communication and technology deputy minister. She is called upon to communicate on government’s policy. Named just a week after her country was called upon to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, of which communication is the backbone. According to her she was “literally learning on the job”
According to WeeTracker.com:
The former youth activist and justice ministry legal officer was having a quiet Saturday at home when the surprise call came from State House.
“I have been put in a position, regardless of what limitations I might have, to show up and do the best that I can do,” says Theofelus, who has had to learn very quickly how to navigate governance and political issues.
So far Namibia has seen “tremendous results” in giving real-time information about coronavirus to the media and the public while thwarting fake news, she says.
For a brilliant 23-year-old who is fresh from law school, there are quite a good number of prospects. But it is highly unlikely than any of those prospects would have something to do with becoming an actual member of a country’s parliament as a minister appointed by the President.
However, it is not ‘highly unlikely’ if you are Emma Theofilus who was recently appointed Namibia’s Information and Technology Deputy Minister at just 23 years of age.
The law graduate who can be considered Africa’s youngest member of parliament was part of President Hage Geingob’s list of eight non-voting members announced on Sunday and sworn in Monday, March 22.
An avid debater, Emma has previously served in various positions at Nanso High School as Deputy Mayor and Deputy Speaker of the Children’s Parliament of Namibia.
She has also worked with various youth groups, such as Global Shapers Windhoek. She shone in those ranks and her effort appear to have earned her a spot in the nation’s parliament.
“As a former debater and law graduate, you can expect robust debates in parliament. As long as I have the support and guidance, I do not think I would go wrong. I will bank on the experience I have, but I am also willing to take advice and guidance from those that have been there before me,” she is quoted as saying by local media.
“I do not think I am special; I do not think I am inexperienced, and I do not think being young or female has anything to do with my appointment. Anything I set myself to and any environment I want to work into, I can do it; so, the issue of inexperience does not hold any water,” she says.
However, she also admits that she will not go into the ministry thinking “I know it all” but would acquaint herself with the work already done. Emma says she is not oblivious of the fact that there is more than meets the eye in terms of a deputy ministerial post and that the portfolio requires a lot of coordination.
“Of course, the minister, being the head and political appointee, and the deputy minister allow the whole ministerial position to function. It is a supporting role, just like any law has supporting regulations to allow it to function,” she says.
I do not think being a deputy minister is a role that cannot be brought to life, the person should know what they have planned for that position and anybody can do it. It is not an insignificant role,” she added.
As her first assignment, the incoming deputy minister said she will push for the finalisation of certain critical bills her ministry is busy with. She said some of the bills to be tabled include access to information and the cyber bill, which are pertinent.
“The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has an important role to disseminate information of the government. I feel that needs to be improved so that people know exactly what government plans are underway and the role the government plays,” she said.
She stressed that as a nation, access to information is important, in terms of human rights and thus it would be a task she would take on in her position.”
Yes, indeed the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow. These three successful youths who are my triplets of this week’s profile should give us hope and pride for tomorrow. Thank you Chad, Botswana and Namibia.