CMG International Media Group   20 February 2019

Group of people sitting on a sofa next to each other dressed in grey jumpers smiling at a camera

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Africa is a fascinating hub of activity and its story is continually being written by the children of the motherland. At WorldRemit we love to bring you new stories each month about the aspiring organisations, entrepreneurs and community champions we want you to get excited about with us.

We want to keep spreading the African narrative - one that seems to drive Jason Kitenge and his team at Pamoja Network.

Pamoja is a youth movement determined to override outdated African ways. It believes that the young generation works best when feeling empowered to make decisions and take action – even if it means they have to revolt against the old ways.

We had an opportunity to speak to Jason Kitenge, - the man behind the vision. He outlined the purpose of Pamoja and its inspiration. We learnt how this new and powerful platform is eager to connect young leaders of the African diaspora. These ‘agents of change’, as they call themselves, are devoted to challenging the old African narrative and executing innovative strategies that will contribute towards Africa’s growth and development

Jason tells us how you can get involved and become an ‘agent of change’ yourself – because everyone can contribute to the destiny of Africa.

 

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Hi Jason! Please tell us more about Pamoja Network.

Pamoja Network is a youth driven, social enterprise focused on connecting young global leaders to tackle Africa’s challenges.

By 2050 Africa will have the largest number of young people – nearly twice the size of the young population of Asia and Oceania combined. Our vision is to develop a powerful global network of young leaders who’ll collaborate with decision makers to strategise and deliver innovative sustainable growth and development solutions.

What does the name Pamoja stand for?

Pamoja is the Swahili word for ‘togetherness’. This represents our guiding principle throughout the organisation. We’re building a community of young ‘agents of change’ to focus on partnering and collaborating to achieve greatness for Africa. Our ethos is captured perfectly by the African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Let’s get personal. Share a little bit about you and your team.

My grandfather was the Head of Parliament of the Democratic Republic of Congo. So despite being born and raised in London, I have grown up with a fervent interest in the disparity between the Congo of the past and the Congo of the present.

While studying for my Accounting and Finance degree at the University of Warwick, I pursued my passion by helping co-found the Warwick Africa Summit - a two-day conference highlighting Africa’s issues and opportunities across Gender, Economic and Human Development.

My grandfather’s legacy ensured that Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s words were instilled in me;

“You are not an African because you are born there, but because Africa is born in you.” 

This shaped my view on the world and advanced my desire to found the Pamoja Network.

Surrounding myself with independent-thinkers who share an ambition to improve our planet has always been my dream. Pamoja Network would not be where it is today without our amazing team.

We all are either undergraduates, masters students or in full-time employment. Pamoja is our passion because it allows us to achieve our mission of combining what we love with what we believe the world needs.

 

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How does Pamoja meet the demand for the African story?

Black people in the diaspora (mainly Africans) are currently experiencing a resurgence in pride, previously seen during the rise of the ‘fro in the 70s in Black America. The current political climate in countries such as America, Britain and Brazil shows a level of uncertainty. More than ever before, people are interested in where they come from and what’s happening back home. Africans of the diaspora are considering what it means to have a dual identity.

Our projects offer a platform for the diaspora to share their narrative and engage with the continent, while tailoring solutions for its environment.

Please explain more about the work that Pamoja does.

The work we do divides into three sectors:

Pamoja Insights gives a voice to young leaders with ideas. It’s our Think-Tank. We invite young people with a proven interest in the continent (e.g. entrepreneurship, studies) to share their perspectives on thought-provoking topics. Our global contributors provide critical insights, which are grounded in data and shed light on the big picture and opportunities.

Pamoja Talks is where we bring these critical insights to life. It’s a platform where young people can exchange their views with senior business leaders, government officials and field experts. We combine discussion with round tables, where attendees are encouraged to begin strategising on solutions.

Pamoja Fellowship is our cultural and field research exchange programme. A selection of delegates from Pamoja Talks is offered the opportunity to travel to Africa and work alongside students at one of our partner educational institutions. Here, delegates take their draft solutions and refine them through further research. They then implement an applicable project by working with young leaders on the ground.

In all these ways we’re focussing on connecting young ‘agents of change’ in the common goal of improving Africa’s growth and development.

What are some of the misconceptions you encounter in carrying out your work with Pamoja?

The biggest misconception we’ve encountered is that the young diaspora has a siloed view – they are only looking at the betterment of either their country of origin or of occupation. We understand the need for a more collaborative approach, the need for togetherness and see that improving the continent as a whole will benefit individual countries.

Our challenge lies not only in galvanising young people in the diaspora, but we need to dispel old African schools of thought that young people should be seen and not heard. We wish to work hand-in-hand.

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What would you say to a young African about why the African story is important?

No-one else but you can give an accurate account of yourself and your country! Young people are the leaders of the future, and the future is heading in Africa’s direction. So, tell the African narrative from your point of view.

What projects are in the pipeline for Pamoja and how can people get involved?

The Pamoja team have a lot planned for 2019. We want as many young leaders around the world to get involved as possible!

We’re excited about the launch of our website in mid-February. We’ll be showcasing the thought-provoking pieces of our talented contributors.

We encourage everyone to sign up and engage with the content by discussing the issues with other like-minded individuals. This is another part of our Pamoja Insights – and your voice matters, wherever you are in the world."

The aim is to gauge opinions and galvanise the thoughts that young people share online, then use them to shape the agenda of our upcoming Pamoja Talk.

Keep an eye on our social media pages for more information. We hope you’ll join us in building our organisation to fulfil our mission.

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