From the mouths of budding leaders: An “African Union Summit” of a different kind


Abuja, May 2016 — Student: ”President Kenyatta, I am a correspondent for LE SOLEIL in Senegal. ”Would you tell the youth of Africa what is happening to your promise to give new life to the African Peer Review mechanism?”

Nigerian Television Authority: ”Mr. President, did your trial by the International Criminal Court have anything to do with your failure to hold a conference to revive APRM?”

Ethiopian Herald: ”Does President Mugabe have confidence in the President of Chad continuing with friendly relations with China as happened under your Chairmanship of the African Union?”

The Monitor, Uganda: ‘Do you fear that President Debby as the new Chairman of the AU will be taking orders from France?”

The Sowetan, South Africa: ‘Will the African Union support a Trust Fund by companies making a profit in Africa to be used for funding Internet Dialogue among Africa’s school children across borders of African countries?”

This a sampling of questions posed by secondary school journalists to female students during a simulated summit of the African Union. The students are trained at Anglican Girls Grammar School in Abuja, Nigeria. The eight-week training and is conducted by Africa Vision 525 initiative, a knowledge-based NGO that develops orientation in selected female students for assuming leadership at the level of Heads of State in Africa.

The “summit” was held to celebrate World Press Freedom Day and has been an annual event since the project started in 2005. It is conducted by the class of graduating students and is broadcast live by the Nigerian Television Authority.

Trainers introduce the Girl Child African Union Heads of State to the challenge of facing hard and unexpected questions from the media. The budding journalists are trained to conduct research and use the data they generate as the basis for the questions they ask the “Heads of State”. In that way, they learn the rigours of journalism and the absolute need to prepare adequately for an assignment. The quarrels – and, often, physical fights — that follow are instructive in that they show the participants the danger that media people face in doing their work.

The burden of the media in Africa is that of taking knowledge about conditions in other African countries to Africa’s youth; as well as enabling the youth to make emotional contacts with knowledge-based Pan-African institutions. One of the resolutions of the summit was a call to Africa’s media to replicate the project in each country, which could lead to an ALL_AFRICA SUMMIT in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, which is also the headquarters of the African Union.

Reported by Okello Oculi