Event Reports

What does Success mean? – African Young Leaders come together for Reflection Seminar

Change requires ideas and ideas demand people who reflect and approach them. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and LéO Africa Institute are therefore bringing together young and aspiring thinkers of a new generation. Already in its third year, the Young Emerging Leaders Project (YELP) brings together over 20 change makers of various fields to reflect and learn more about servant leadership and why it is a key ingredient for addressing the 21st century leadership and development challenges. From 8 to 11 August, 2019, we welcomed 21 fellows of this third cohort for a seminar on “Achieving and Managing Success” at Victoria Forest Resort, Kalangala.

“I will not live an unlived life”, writes Dwana Markova in her poem “Wide Open”. But what does it mean to live a ‘lived’ or let us call it a ‘successful’ life? How can we define success? And which values underpin success in our careers? These were some of the leading questions our YELP-Fellows were encouraged to openly discuss at our seminar on “Achieving and Managing Success”. Therefore, it is important to exploit one's own abilities and to relate values that underpin success to the wellbeing of people around us. In order to achieve this, the participants not only enjoyed a range of content-focused sessions on “how to define success and how to deal with challenges?’ as well as on ‘identity in a Pan-African context”, but also had the opportunity for extensive exchange and networking with the other participants.

Thus, an extensive network between the participants from eight different countries, including Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Somalia, has already been established. In addition to the multi-nationality, the 2019 class of scholarship holders impressed above all with their colourful mix of different backgrounds. Through the fellowship, artists met biotechnologists and economists met graduates of development studies and film producers, who all contributed to the workshop with an exciting and extensive experience.

During the event, the focus was on examples of different forms of success, help participants define their own standards and definitions of success, and appreciate values that underpin successful leaders with significant presence in society.

At the beginning of the seminar, personal experiences of the current programme leaders were shared and impressions of different careers as well as challenges for the realisation of their own ideas were conveyed. It was impressive to hear how the participants made use of the last seminar and saw it as a motivation to put effort in their own ideas towards a better society.


The participants were then confronted with several readings and discussed the texts in the context of their own experiences and perceptions of good leadership and success. The fellows reflected not only on how to achieve success, but also on how to confront challenges in leadership and how to deal with failures. Above all, the courage to think new paths and not to shy away from one's own ideas was encouraged in this context.

The participants also went deeper into thematic focal points, and debated, among other things, the need of re-defining Pan-Africanism in today’s global realities. Ivan Kyambadde, Faculty Member of LéO Africa Institute, encouraged the fellows to share and critically discuss their current perception of Pan-Africanism. “We should not limit our thinking according to tribal stereotypes, but rather fight for African Unity”, emphasised Ivan Kyambadde.

The exchange with other participants and the opportunity to widen their networks during the seminar, was of great value for the participants. It was therefore no surprise that the atmosphere between the fellows was excellent throughout the event and that they worked together well. Joint projects and opportunities for cooperation were also discussed and gave a foretaste of the potential of the 2019 YELP class.

With one further YELP event for this cohort to come, these connections will certainly be further strengthened when the various interests and positions of the fellows are again so lively and fruitfully discussed as during this second seminar.

Written by Sophie Brandt