By Mustapha N. Kanneh
The wind of Pan Africanism is reemerging on the African Continent as in the era of Nkrumah with the sprout of novel progressive Pan African revolutionary student movements such as the Confederation of Student and School of Africa (CESA). CESA was born out of the need to chart a solution to the many problems facing students on the African Continent and resolve the many neocolonial contradictions facing Africa, and charting a clear revolutionary agenda for the advancement of Pan Africanism through the effort of like-minded solidarity forces.
Cohesion and unity amongst African students in mitigating the common challenges faced by African students and Pan-Africanism are the groundbreaking concepts that led to the founding of the Confederation of Student and School of Africa (CESA), an organization founded in the similar spirit and mission of the All Africa Students Union( AASU). In the ideology of pan-Africanism, CESA intends to help bring together students from all over the African continent under a single revolutionary umbrella to fight against the ills and vices facing students in diverse independent African countries as well as fight against neocolonialism, academic apartheid, ignorance, and backwardness thereby coalescing a breath of fresh air of solidarity and ‘Pan African Renaissance’ amongst African youth and students.
In lieu of the aforementioned, the first assembly of CESA was held a few days ago at Felix Houphouët-Boigny University in Abidjan. The summit brought together thousands of students from more than ten (10) universities across six (6) countries in Africa. The first Ordinary General Assembly of the Confederation of Students and Schools of Africa (CESA) opened on Tuesday in Abidjan with the participation of delegates from a dozen countries to reflect for more than four days on the education systems of the continent, and lasted from August 27 to September 1, 2021, with scores of universities and countries within West Africa represented including the indomitable Vanguard Student Unification Party of the University of Liberia, represented by its Secretary-General Cde. Mustapha N. Kanneh and Cde.Korpo Mary Kerkula as well the All Africa Students Union, represented by its Vice President for West Africa Region Cde. Varney Jarsey.
At the Congress, Cde. St. Claire Alla was overwhelmingly elected as Secretary-General of CESA while Cde. Landrey Guero was elected as first deputy secretary-general, amongst others. The Congress was held under the patronage of His Excellences ‘Messrs’ Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte D’ Ivoire, and Alpha Conde, President of the Republic of Guinea under the theme “what is the response from the school and university youth on the challenges facing students of the African Continent”. The summit was staged in order to provide a platform for African Youth and Students to provide effective responses to the question of terrorism, health crises such as Ebola, Malaria, and COVID-19, illegal immigration, and the economic crisis in Africa.
In small groups, as well as in the General Assembly, participants then discussed the issues that students in Africa are faced with today, including terrorism, immigration, bad governance, poor health care, corruption, messy educational systems, injustices, neocolonialism, low standard of living, economic crisis, exclusion, and poverty. Stressing on the challenges facing African students, one of the participants Cde. Habib Sow said: “all of the countries in Africa, especially in the sub-region, are facing the same problems which are poor healthcare, lack of conducive education environment, language barrier and youth empowerment” he further stressed that African students movements such as CESA need robust recruitment and mobilization strategy as well as mobilizing financial resources for the sustainability and the forward march of the institution, adding the famous African adage that “he who gives you money or control your belly controls your mind, and so in order for CESA to be independent it needs to get its own money to run its agenda independently to avoid the organization being captured by reactionaries”.
The summit helped shape the mentality of young people and broaden their understanding of pan-Africanism and the ‘African Renaissance’ as well provided lucid insights on the task at hand and a limped roadmap of CESA. At the end of the summit, the various student unions from different countries agreed to take the lead in taking the manifesto of CESA to their various countries together with organizing discussions/forums in their schools and youth associations, aimed at promoting CESA, sharing their experiences from the summit and organizing the chapters of CESA in their various countries to further the vision and mission of CESA across the African Continent. Participants also agreed on the importance of ensuring that pan-Africanism is fostered on a continental scale rather than an individual, ethnic level. In doing so, it was hoped that the dialogues could increase the inclusion of other student unions by bringing more student unions across Africa to CESA which is needed to make CESA a strong voice of advocacy for African students. Speaking at the first general meeting of CESA, the Secretary-General of SUP, Cde Mustapha N. Kanneh congratulated the newly elected leadership of CESA and stressed the importance of solidarity. He further called on the newly elected CESA leadership to unite the institution, resolve the internal contradictions and bring on board all other student unions to foster the Pan-Africanistic agenda of CESA.
In addition, Vice President of AASU (West Africa region) Cde. Varney Jarsay reiterated the essence of solidarity and added that his presence at the CESA Congress is because of the revolutionary nature and structure of the organization, pledging that he’s prepared to work with CESA to organize the West Africa Students Union (WASU) as well as the Mano River Student Union ((MARSU). In conclusion, the Secretary General-elect, Cde. Alla Saint Clair promised to unite the various unions under his leadership and build strong partnerships with other countries and student unions around the continent to make CESA a powerful voice for students on the continent of Africa in dealing with the ills facing students in Africa. Consonance with other delegates at the conference, he lashed at the newly introduced License-Master-Doctorate (LMD) and e-learning policies as “unsuitable” sounding out that all the universities in Côte D’ Ivoire and West Africa are in crisis due to the introduction of the LMD and e-learning. Lamenting that there is demonstration currently in Burkina Faso, Liberia, and Benin against the LMD and e-learning while teachers have stopped teaching classes in Côte D’ Ivoire citing that the abolishing of the LMD and e-learning amongst other demands such as lack of good working conditions, internet access, and library equipment are the reasons for their strike action.
The summit ended with a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of the Felix Houphouët-Boigny University Prof. Affian followed by a tour of the Felix Houphouët -Boigny University Campus and a press conference at Opera News consummated by a special meeting with the Minister of State for political affairs and Mayor of Kumasi, Mr. Cissé Bakongo which was climaxed by a tour of School Campuses in Koumassi and a beach fete. Indeed, CESA 21′ is a breath of fresh air for the ‘African Renaissance’ — that is and should always be the spirit — Pan Africanism.
PS: In pictures mostly is the Liberian Delegation which includes Cde. Mary Kerkula, Central Committee Representative of Science College of SUP, Cde. Mustapha N. Kanneh, Secretary-General of SUP and Cde. Varney Alieu Jersey, Vice President for West Africa Region of AASU.
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