When Davis Akampurira travelled to the US for a short course in Democracy and Good Governance in 2012, he hadn’t set out just to collect a certificate.
He was also on a mission to look out for like-minded people who could rally and train the youth to become Africa’s next generation of leaders.
While there, he sold this idea to Yammin Ibrahim, the then deputy minister for Youth and Sports in Ghana, and Martin Sean, a youth leader in Mauritius, and the two immediately jumped on board. The idea was to form a non-governmental organisation that would help empower the youth to take up leadership positions in different sectors in their respective countries.
Akampurira already had a name in his mind for the NGO, and was to call it the Africa Leadership Awards. The reason he emphasised African integration was because he thought it would help in creating markets for her products, remove barriers to movement and help in reducing unemployment, one of Africa’s biggest headaches.
“Look at the US. If they had not integrated into one nation, where would they be now?” Akampurira asks.
As part of the activities of the organisation, Akampurira’s colleague, Martin Sean from Mauritius, organised the inaugural African Leadership Awards in 2013 in the Southern African island nation. And last year, Akampurira brought the event home with a lavish ceremony at the Sheraton hotel, where the organisation awarded outstanding individuals in different sectors.
Some of the winners included President Museveni, who was also the chief guest and won the Pan African award. Others included Dr Kato Ssebaale of Case Medical Centre, Pius Bigirimana and Godfrey Mutabazi, permanent secretary in the ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, and the Uganda Communications Commission executive director, respectively.
NO EASY TASK
He plans to hold the African Leadership Forum this year, where he intends to invite the chairman of the African Union and a host of other African presidents. It is at the Leadership Forum that Akampurira and his team will get the platform to relay to Africa’s leaders the problems affecting the youth across the continent.
As part of the operations of the African Leadership Awards, Akampurira and his colleagues from other 31 countries in West, South and East Africa, engage their fellow youth in discussions about the problems affecting them and the possible solutions.
“We, the youth, need to put forward our problems to our leaders, because the future is ours, and in fact, we are tomorrow’s leaders. So, we need to lay a proper foundation for a better world tomorrow, and we can do this by holding our leaders to account to do what is good for our countries.”
Akampurira meeting with President Museveni at his farm in Rwakituala
Akampurira, through the National Youth Council structures, organised study groups where youth from various districts in the country and universities like Makerere, Mubs and Kyambogo, through social media and radio talk shows, meet every two weeks to discuss policies and present them to their team leaders, who in turn present them to government.
He says he plans on approaching religious leaders to spread the gospel of poverty eradication, as well as elders who will guide the youth in the study groups on how they can point out priority areas, for which they need the government to design adequate policies.
Akampurira, an ordinary youth, needed a lot of courage and determination to start this project. It was not very easy at the start. The project required a lot of money, yet he did not have any. But using his exposure and good track record in youth service, he lobbied the President’s Office, the National Youth Council, Case clinic, Movit products and capable individuals to get funding for his project. Most of his benefactors were impressed by his innovative and developmental ideas.
In fact, Ronald Kibuule, the then minister of state for Youth, considers Akampurira one of the most innovative youths in the country.
“Davis is very innovative, hardworking, but above all, a good team player,” Kibuule told The Observer.
There is so much confidence in Akampurira that President Museveni agreed to pen the foreword to his book, The African Leadership Book of Fame, which he launched at the Golf Course hotel early last month.
The book, part of his African Leadership Awards project, recognises leaders in different sectors such as business, politics, security, agriculture, tourism, education, as well as Africa’s founding fathers.
Akampurira, 26, hails from Kabale district and is one of 12 siblings. He went to Kabale primary school, Ntare School and Makerere University, where he did a bachelor’s degree in Commerce.
While doing his A-levels at Ntare School, where he was the chairman of the student’s council, he won the presidency of the Uganda National Students Association (UNSA), and this set him on the path of his career as a youth leader. He later joined the National Youth Council, where he is currently the secretary for External Relations.
Fred Onyango, the general secretary of the Youth Council, lauds Akampurira for his hard work. “Davis is hardworking, engaging and informative. He is also well exposed to international and local leadership roles,” he said.
And true to his character, Akampurira holds different high-profile international and national leadership roles. Besides his position at the Youth Council, he is also Uganda’s National Youth Council representative at the East African Community, alongside Fred Onyango, and also represents Uganda’s youth at the Commonwealth and the All African Students Union.
He has participated in the formulation of several policies in Uganda and East Africa. These include the National Youth Policy, the National Students Loan Scheme, National Employment Policy, African Youth Charter, East African Youth Policy, and the Youth Livelihood Programme, and also participated in the amendment of the UNSA constitution.
Onyango lauds him for “giving youth knowledge about creating employment opportunities, giving them business ideas to start ups small and medium-sized entreprises (SMEs) and linking them with different high-profile people who could avail them opportunities in different sectors.”
“Davis is a very exposed man. It is not easy for a young man like him to organise a function graced by the president, but he did it,” Onyango adds.
Akampurira has been recognised internationally and rubbed shoulders with great leaders such as US president Barack Obama and Australian prime minister Tony Abbott. He received an honorary citizenship from the mayor of the City of Pensacola, Florida, in the United States, won the Youth Leadership award in South Korea for his contribution to global youth development, and won the same award again in South Africa.
Orphaned at the age of 13, Akampurira faced a difficult childhood, being taken care of by his grandmother.
“It was a struggle growing up. We were many children, yet relatives grabbed some of our parents’ property which could have helped in looking after us,” Akampurira, who lost two of his siblings along the way, says.
This is what inspired him to work hard so that he could become successful and support his siblings. At his young age, Akampurira takes care of them as well as relatives and friends and their children. He also pays school fees and upkeep for six children. He blames today’s youth for laziness.
“Most youths think they are still too young to contribute to society. But leaders like Jesus Christ changed the world at the age of thirty and Museveni revolutionarised this country at a very young age,” he points out.
To be an example to his fellow youth, he engages in agricultural activities in his home district where he grows tea and maize. He also prepares seed beds and is in negotiations with Garuga Musinguzi, a local investor, to acquire 300 acres of land in Buhara, Kabale, by the end of June to plant tea. He also owns a three-acre livestock farm on land he bought in Luweero district.
He employs over 1,000 people through his agricultural activities, something that has helped reduce unemployment in his home village.
Akampurira, who has been floated by some circles as a potential candidate for the Western Region Youth parliamentary seat in 2016, simply responds by saying, “We shall cross that bridge when we get there,” when asked about his political ambitions. But with his track record and wide experience in youth politics, it is but anyone’s guess what post he could be holding come next year. No wonder Kibuule aises him to “position himself to serve his country.”
Source : The Observer