Africa University and the Embassy of Sweden in Harare launch the Pamoja Solidarity Youth Exhibition
30 October 2023
Africa University’s School of Law with generous support from the Embassy of Sweden in Harare and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) launched the “Pamoja” Solidarity and Human Rights Exhibition Day under the theme, Strengthening Youth Participation and Inclusion for All. Pamoja means together in Swahili, reflecting the shared commitment to decolonization of the continent and responsibility towards the advancement of Africa.
The event also provided a platform for the critical analysis and discussion of the contributions that the youth can make in their respective countries towards human rights discourse and how they feature as part of the solution in bringing lasting peace and development to the continent.
Officially launching the event, Africa University Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor and Director of Research and Innovation Professor Pamela Machakanja looked back on the long association of the university with the Embassy of Sweden in peace building for the nation of Zimbabwe and beyond. “Africa University began its partnership with the Embassy of Sweden in Harare with the Dag Hammarskjöld Commemorations which marked the life of the second secretary general of the United Nations who died in a plane crash in Ndola , Zambia while on a peace keeping mission to the DRC. We continue in that same spirit with this exhibition that looks back on the strides we have made in unity and the collective value systems that are critical for sustainable peace and sustainable development.”
She went on to provide insight into the university’s relationship with the RWI headed in Harare by Mr. Mikael Johansson, Director of Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Zimbabwe Program, that trains and builds capacity in peace, negotiation and mediation skills at community level. This is a strategic partnership that has arisen out of this long association with the Embassy of Sweden and a shared vision for lasting peace .
Milestones have included the development of the RWI capacity development program begun in 2016 that brings together various universities annually for a winter school on human rights. Additionally, the fully sponsored Masters in Human Rights program launched at Africa University in 2020 has trained and graduated two cohorts with additional support being provided in the form of e- resources for the Africa University Jokomo/Yamada Library, continuous training and capacity building of faculty as well as various research grants available to staff and students.
Guest of Honour, His Excellency Per Lindgarde, Ambassador of Sweden to Zimbabwe, highlighted the importance of the voice of the youth in the protection of human rights globally and encouraged the continuous belief in and safeguarding of these rights that are critical to any meaningful forms of nation building .
Beginning with the ideation behind the Pamoja exhibition he said, “ Pamoja: together change is possible, consists of a photo exhibition of 20 African advocates together with a web platform that explores the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the independence movements in nine other African nations, namely Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The platform is made up of a portrait exhibition which features youth activists from both Sweden, and the nine countries, showcasing their inspiring quotes aimed at the importance of international unity and solidarity and the fight for democracy and human rights. The lesson is that democracy is not to be taken for granted. Democracy is not something that is given to us but rather something “that is fought for” every day and everywhere the world over.”
Bringing home, the necessity of such an exhibition, H.E. Lindgarde went on to contextualise the importance and gravity of such conversations in light of the global challenges of climate change, conflict, social fragmentation and inequality, which disproportionately affect the youth who bear the brunt of the socio- economic burden that these challenges bring.
“Sweden supports platforms such as this one to promote conversations about today’s global challenges, in order to create a sense of agency and encourage activism. The idea is to inspire young people of today to make the world a better place for all, by telling the story of the liberation movements and the international solidarity. The foundation of Pamoja is solidarity. The youth voices from the exhibition are so powerful and inspiring, and they remind us that youth are at the forefront of the fight for a better world. By promoting Pamoja, Sweden is calling all stakeholders to further consult, engage, and integrate youth across efforts toward achieving the SDGs. Sweden is calling for all stakeholders to recognize that young people are agents of change, who can be entrusted to act as the architects of their own future.”
Africa University has already fast become a leader in conflict studies, peace and governance in the region through its Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance and now, through its School of Law that is leveraging partnerships to bring lasting impact and change in Africa through its graduates research and publications .