Report of the IHEYO-African Working Group online conference 2006
The African Working Group (AWG) organised an eight day online conference, from October 29 to November 4, 2006, at the same the IHEYO conference took place in India. It was an educative and highly revealing experience which led to good resolutions and recommendations. The AWG is the regional working group coordinating and initiating IHEYO youth humanist activities in Africa.
In response to the call for participation in IHEYO-AWG online conference tagged ‘Humanism and African Youths: The Way Forward for a Progressive Partnership’, the organisers received 26 applications from 9 African countries. Of these twenty-six, fifteen confirmed their participation via a second round application process. Unfortunately, a technical factor as to whether to use the IHEYO Forum portal or AWG e-list forwarder marred the registration of many prospective participants who found it rather difficult to register through one of the options. By the time this was solved, only twelve participants were still willing to continue with their participation.
Despite the registration odds however, the e-conference had twelve participants from seven African countries: Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya and Tanzania.
Day 1 and day 2
The first day of the conference was set aside for the confirmationof interest by participants as well as a brief introduction which contains the name, age, nationality and organisational affiliation of the conferees.
The second day focused on the 'organisational definition of humanism and how it could be promoted in Africa'. The definitions of Humanism offered by participants went a long way in exposing the Humanist vision of the participating groups. Definition varies greatly. In fact, the high religiosity and lack of religious tolerance of one of the conferees (MR. FAGGAE- not real name) surfaced (and nearly turned discussion into cyber war between himself and two other participants on Day Three). Be that as it may, the definitions offered by 70% of participants agreed with the IHEYO minimum statement on Humanism. The others, though they were not too religious, see Humanism as having the same meaning as Humanitarianism.
On how to promote Humanism in Africa, the participants emphasized that the onus lies on the vibrant African youths in seeing that crass religiosity that inhibit development is sumptuously tackled.
Day 3 and 4
October 31 and November 1 were devoted to workshop discussion on three topics.
-Secularism and the State of Minority Right in Africa
-Science, Technology and the African youths
The Secularism workshop got heated up when one of the participants during contributions posits that Religion is very important and almost unavoidable. In all, (I can report that through the dialectical resolve of groups thesis and anti thesis), the conferees were able to agree on the three resolutions on the workshop themes. Click here to view the workshop resolutions.
Day 5, 6 and 7
The planned group discussions could not be held because resolutions were collated and sent to conferees for urgent adoption. This was done to ensure that the resolutions were sent in time to the IHEYO General Assembly that was held on November 4 in India.
Day 6 and 7 witnessed robust suggestions from participants on how partnership can be made possible among African Humanist youth groups. From discussions, the following were shifted out:
- There is need for create an internet portal for the African Working Group on the IHEYO website: www.iheyo.org/africaworkinggroup This space will contain information on the activities of AWG and its collaborating groups.
- There is need for a steering board for the group that will ensure that its activities are functionally run. A six-man board was suggested to this effect to include the African EC members (who were in 2006 two but after the last election, three). The remaining three could be selected by sending nomination application to all functional IHEYO African member organisation to that effect. However, the conferees are to be given priority when selecting except in an highly exceptional case.
- That AWG must work towards organising an African Humanist Youth Conference (not regional but truly AFRICAN) between 2007 and end of 2008.
- Realising that little has been heard of Humanism in Southern Africa, conferees agreed that there is need to seek for Southern African Humanist groups.
- The conferees also agreed that there should be three committees within the group: a West African Committee, an East/Central African Committee and a Southern Committee. Each committee is to have at least 2 members each. The six-man board for the time being will divide the task of these committees among themselves: the task is basically to popularize Humanism through group collaborations and offer support for innovative and progressive initiatives within the domain of the committees.
- The formation of clubs formation and club events that can develop the youths as well as create fun for them should be encouraged by African youth groups. They are advised not to be too academic as it was before but that programmes must rather be flexible and creatively developed to be edu-infotainment so as to attract membership.
- The conferees wish that a majority of them could be present at the regional meetings coming up in Cameroon and Uganda in 2007 and likewise advise the organisers of the conference to make the best of it for the benefit of Africa.
- The conferees agreed that Exchange programmes between Africans groups within Africa and between African and European groups are vital for group development. AWG Board are therefore enjoined to ensure that at least one of such exchanges are carried out biennially.
- Programmes on HIV/AIDS are seen as inevitable in any development oriented youth group's programme. All African Humanist youth groups are therefore enjoined to ensure that they enlighten their members about the scourge and organise events to promote the ABC option of HIV/AIDS prevention.
- Realising that there are issues of common interest to both Humanist and non-humanist youth groups, the conferees agreed that African youth groups should endeavour to partner/collaborate with groups whose visions tallies with theirs (and tolerant enough to accommodate their irreligious stance) most especially in the areas of Human Rights, Promotion of Science Education, HIV/AIDS, Poverty and Development.
- Books and educational materials should be made available, most especially tracts with humanist themes should be provided for Africa so that people can get to hear what are doing.
- The conferees thanked IHEYO EC for the support offered to the group so far and also ask for their unflinching support in quest to popularize in Africa.
Being the last day of the conference, the participants expressed delight on the success of the conference and thanked the organizers and IHEYO for the opportunity to contribute to the path of promoting progressive Humanism in Africa.
The conference came to an end at 12:00 midnight of November 5, 2006 with optimism among participants that they would be able to physically meet at Abuja 2007 or 2008.