Inspired by Pope Francis’ call for economic justice and an economy that leaves no one behind, young African professionals engage with and think of being agents of change.
Pour Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Young professionals from across Africa have come together in Nairobi, Kenya, for a gathering aimed at developing a shared vision for a future in which the dignity of all is recognized and no one is left behind, inspired by Pope Francis’ call to give new life to the economy.
The three-day youth forum, organized by the Jesuit Ecology Network in Africa (JENA) in collaboration with Economía de Francisco and Dicastery to promote integrated human development, was attended by young economists and businessmen from eight African countries.
The Gathering in Nairobi, held from 27-29 September, was part of the efforts of the Francis 2021 Global Economy event in Assisi, held on 2 October.
Commitment to change
Building on the diversity of their cultures and experiences, the meeting participants committed themselves to becoming catalysts for change in the world, despite social, economic and political challenges.
In a message from the Nairobi Regional Meeting, participants pointed out the root causes of some of the challenges facing the African continent, such as the exclusionary effects of colonialism, the destruction of ecosystems, corruption, and under-investment in knowledge production by and for Africans.
In the face of these difficult challenges, young professionals have called for solidarity and support for the renewable, life-giving economy to promote the integral and dignified human development we all share.
Space for Changemakers
Dominic Chai SJ, a Jesuit economist who works on the Vatican’s Covid-19 commission, explained that Francesco’s vision for the economy is “to provide a space for young change-makers to come together in their communities to share their hopes for tomorrow’s economy. That according to Pope Francis should be the one who looks after life and ensures that no Nobody was left behind.”
To this end, he added, the Nairobi Meeting brought together young economists and entrepreneurs, in the spirit of the Congregation, to discern what local communities could do to revive Francis’ vision for economics.
Similarly, the Director of the Jesuit Network for Justice and Environment in Africa (JENA) and co-host of the meeting in Nairobi, Father Charles Chilovia SJ, highlighted the importance of the meeting as an opportunity to “listen to one another in the spirit of charity.”
The Jesuit priest also stressed that “young agents of change in Africa will only be able to realize their vision by working together and drawing on their diverse talents and experiences.”
Shared Calling Service
Speaking in addition to the significance of the Nairobi meeting, JENA’s Head of Policy and Advocacy, Fernando Saldivar SJ, noted that the young professionals were “encouraged by Laudato si’s spirituality”, and individually reflected in the journey that took them to the meeting was the best way to respond to the common call of service that characterized the group together. “.
Sharing some insights from their shared thinking, Wendy Umanga, a participant from Kenya, stressed the need for global and local leaders to “provide opportunities for young people’s voices to be heard from the perspective of the humanity of the world and the preservation of the environment in which we live”.
Amy Utem of Uganda called on young Africans to “harness technology to create synergies around the world for more sustainable ways of tackling our problems and finding solutions that work for all.”
Another participant, Chalu Mwansa, from Zambia, who drew on African Ubuntu philosophy, the idea of ”I am because”, which she hopes will inspire us to rebuild better and move forward as a society.
Pope urges young people to work creatively
During the world event of the Francis economy held on Saturday, Pope Francis, in his address to more than 200 young entrepreneurs, economists and activists gathered in Assisi, encouraged to continue to work creatively, inspired by the Gospel, to change the current economic situation. A model as the world continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Holy Father also reminded everyone that we are managers, not owners, of the bounties of the land that God has entrusted to us, and we are called to take care of them and distribute them so that no one is left out.
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