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“Don't Give Up in Giving Back to Society” East Africa’s Young Leaders reminded

Change needs ideas and ideas demand people who think and approach them. The Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung, LéO Africa Institute and Stanbic Bank are therefore bringing together young and aspiring thinkers of a new generation. Already in its third year, the Young Emerging Leaders Project (YELP) brings over 30 change makers in 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 22 to 24 March, 2019, we welcomed 35 fellows for the third cohort. The first seminar was held at Kasenge Forest Resort, a nature gifted hotel located in the fringes of Kampala city.

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"All of you here are part of an elite." This was a resounding part of the welcome address by Mathias Kamp, the country representative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Uganda. In his address, Mathias emphasized that the fellows should always use their privileged status to make a difference in their communities.

Therefore, it is important to exploit one's own abilities and to ask oneself how one "can give something back to society. How do you want to shape society?" In order to achieve this, the participants not only enjoyed a wide range of content-focused topics and courses on personality development, but also 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 colorful 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 many different topics in order to elicit the participants' full potential, to impart further knowledge and to give them helpful hints for the implementation of their own ideas. At the beginning, personal experiences of the current program leaders and former participants were shared and impressions of different careers as well as challenges for the realization of their own ideas were conveyed.

In terms of content, the participants were then confronted with the significance of their work at an early stage. The increasing threat to democracy and the importance of defending it were emphasized. 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 then went deeper into thematic focal points, read and discussed a broad spectrum of topics and debated, among other things, the possibilities of Pan-Africanism and independent approaches to Africa's development.

In the further course of the project, the fellows were also trained in how to proceed in order to implement their ideas, set up their own projects or organizations. Personal stories such as motivational speeches, entrepreneurial tips and advice on self-organization were brought into focus. Although the timetable always seemed to be very tight, the individual sections were always accompanied by positive vibes and regular laughter were always part of the event.

In the last section of the event, the fellows dealt with the best qualities for leadership. Despite all the theoretical knowledge and the often extremely rational perspectives on many topics, one thing above all was not lost here and that was a solid link to people's daily lives. And so the characteristic most often highlighted in the description of good leadership remained empathy. And while the fellows were still discussing the various consequences of this insight, the workshop moved towards its end, so that the paths of the participants would separate again for the time being. But already at the farewell it was obvious that the participants did not separate completely.  

So the participants themselves emphasized that most of all they liked the meeting and the exchange with other participants during the event. 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 two further YELP events in the year 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 on the first seminar.

written by Maximilian Hansche

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