We are a regional movement of people working together to work on the AU and AUMS project. We are committed to end the injustice of poor governance, corruption, poverty and human rights violations in Africa. Using education, outreach services and media and communication we share information with the world and Africans let down by the AU system. We are quite good at listening to the people we work with in the towns and villages of Africa.
We want to ensure that their voices, concerns and suggestions are heard by key policy and decision makers at the AU and AUMS, and that they get the support they need to improve their own lives. You will agree that many times it’s about our leaders not having the “political will” to effect changes. For a variety of reasons, including enjoying the fruits of ill-gotten wealth, many of our state managers do not have the “political will” to take action. Through media, outreach work and communication our task is to campaign for changes and mobilise the masses so that our leaders can act on the promises they have made to us. AU Watch’s Governing Councilhas an important role in this work, as many of them have access to the African leadership.
So how does our advocacy and campaign work?
Understanding the details of an issue is one aspect of our advocacy approach: we then have to determine how the message should be crafted, who else can bring influence and leverage to bear, and what type of medium is needed to create the maximum effect.
We know and understand that the AUMS have an ambivalent relationship with the African citizen. In the field of human rights, for example, many of them make public proclamation about promoting and protecting human rights and even create or support the creation of impressive human rights documents and institutions, but yet fail to support the very documents and institutions they have set up. We all know that Africa has seen some of the worst forms of human rights violations in the last fifty years, since many African countries gained independence. The promotion and protection of human rights does not feature prominently in the work program of many AUMS.Certainly, the ratification, implementation and domestication of human rights related instruments are not a priority.
So, how is it done?
(a) It’s simple. We tell and share stories. We identify the issue and the medium and share stories about the lives of the peoples of Africa. We are committed to understanding what our state managers are doing, whatever they say they are doing on our behalf. We seek not only to tell and share our stories, but also to empower people and communities to have the power to challenge corruption, claim their basic human rights to escape poverty, injustice, and misrule. Is it not a shame that many of our youths have to believe that a route out of poverty, destitution and hopelessness is travelling the ‘backway?‘
(b) We advocate. The issues we work on helps people, especially our youths, regain their dignity and ability to understand their human rights and claim it. Our teams, volunteers and partners advocate for good policies and best practices so our programs make a wider impact, create lasting change and function effectively and efficiently. We are committed to ensuring that the African peoples have a say, and approve whatever programs our AU political class come up with on our behalf.
(c) ‘Voxpopuli. Our strategy is what we would love to refer to as the “mobilisation of the masses” – a kind of ‘voxpopuli!’Around Africa, we fundraise, offers child sponsorship, campaigns for change, helps shape AU policy, and offers free teaching AU Watch resources to schools all over Africa.
The manner the AU and AUMS are structured make the masses the only force capable of challenging the status quo. The mobilisation of the masses and the release of their ‘combative potential’ is a basic necessity for effecting change at both the macro and national level. When enough of us shout from our roof tops, our schools and our workplaces, the AU and its Members have no alternative but to listen!
When enough of us shout loud enough that we are tired of the broken promises, tired of being poor, tired of bad governance, corruption and human rights violations, tired of staring into the abyss of hopelessness, our leaders have no alternative but to listen and effect the changes we want! When enough of our young girls shout out loud enough that they want to be in enrolled in school and stay in school till they are 18, our leaders have no alternative but to listen! When enough of our mothers, fathers, youths, young men and women shout out loud enough that they want a decent education and jobs after school, decent health facilities, decent infrastructure, decent housing, our leaders have no alternative but to listen and effect the changes we want! When enough of us say that we are tired of being reminded that “in the abundance of water the fool is thirsty,” our leaders will have no alternative but to listen.
(d) So we need you to add your voice, too.
With your help, we can ensure that the AU and its Members are aware and respond to issues of concern to the African peoples. To find out more about our outreach and advocacy work or if you have a speaker request, please get in touch with our Outreach & Advocacy team on [email protected].
(e) Tell your story! We may complain all day long and blame the political class for our misfortunes, but we are also co-authors of our misfortunes. In many instances and for too long, we have given our political class a blank cheque to rule – or misrule. We’ve cowered, shrugged our shoulders and looked up to the heavens for salvation which is yet to arrive, and accepted our fate as the will of God. Wrong! A lot of us, for whatever reason, have been complicit in the crimes of our political class by our silence or inaction. The truth is a ‘people always deserve the government they get!’ So, together we can effect changes! It is not too late. So, we the peoples of Africa are sending a clear message to the AU and AUMS that we are determined to have an ALMIGHTY say in the manner in which we are being governed and the way the AU and AUMS conduct business, because it is no longer business as usual. We need to our tell stories. We are sure you also have a story to tell – and we keep those stories in the consciousness of Africa. Our political class for too long have acted as our spokes-people. They’ve done a bad job at it. let’s take over the mic and speakers and printed pages and present our stories ourselves. They are stories of our struggles, but also of our history, culture, music, language and everything about us.
(f) Regional Envoys: Our regional ambassadors’ campaign around the world on behalf of AU Watch. From promoting and protecting human rights in Africa, campaigning for peace and security, good governance, social justice and inequalities to building schools and homes for disadvantaged communities, campaigning for climate change adaption and helping (women) farmers get fairer prices for their farm products, we take fight against corruption, human rights violations, poverty injustice and inequality where it belongs – the decision makers at the AU and AUMS. If you want to act as a regional envoy for and on behalf of AU Watch, please get in touch at: [email protected].
Stories are the secret reservoir of values: change the stories individuals and nations live by and tell themselves, and you change the individuals and nations. Ben Okri