Former President Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings has stated that the upsurge of conflict, terrorism and social upheaval across the world is not by accident.
“When people are pushed to the wall with no window to vent their frustrations violence seems to be the only option,” the former military leader underscored.
Mr. Rawlings was speaking at the Africa Scout Conference in Kampala, Uganda Sunday.
The global surge in social and political upheaval Flt Lt Rawlings noted, “Are a direct creation of the stark inequalities we have in terms of social and economic sustenance.
“The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. The ‘savagery of capitalism’ has had a brutal effect on the equitable distribution of resources.”
The former President told the audience of scouts drawn from across the continent at the conference held at the Speke Commonwealth Resort that the values of the scout movement are what the youth need.
He said the scout ethos reaches far into the individual and at the centre of the discipline it inculcates is the desire to sacrifice, to provide for, and to live for other human beings.
The former President said having been involved in conflict resolution in several parts of Africa he had come face to face with the horrors of conflict and the deep-seated anger of the oppressed and called on the world to confront these realities.
“The world will be a more peaceful and safe place if each individual seeks to improve the well-being of his neighbour and by extension his community.
On politicians, he said they will also have to eschew the penchant to take advantage of the populace by patronizing them.
“Governance is about being people centered and we all have a role in ensuring that we bring some of our errant leaders to order.”
Later at a meeting with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni at State House in Entebbe on Monday, he commended the Ugandan leader for the investment in the scout movement. The Uganda government using the military, has modernized and expanded a scout campsite in Kampala into a facility capable of camping thousands of scouts and also hosting conferences and other events for commercial value.
At the Africa Scout Foundation reception on Saturday, President Rawlings commended King Gustaf of Sweden and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia for their significant contributions to the scout movement in Africa and elsewhere on the globe.
Below is the full text of President Rawlings' address to the Africa Scout Conference.
16TH AFRICA SCOUT CONFERENCE
KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY H.E. JERRY JOHN RAWLINGS, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA KAMPALA, UGANDA – AUGUST 30, 2016
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my pleasure to join this special gathering of scouts drawn from across the continent for the 16th Africa Scout Conference as well as the centenary celebrations of the Uganda Scouts Association.
I have two stimulating themes to speak to: “Scouting: Africa’s Leading Social Force for Youth Empowerment” as well as, “Youth involvement in promoting Sustainable Peace and Development”.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Our continent is an evolving one that is confronted with huge prospects for growth as well as several challenges brought on by the unfair global order and the relics of colonialism which continue to haunt us.
Our greatest challenge is how to align our youth to focus on a positive developmental agenda as they embrace the dynamism of an ever-changing world that is culturally shaped by the virtual reality of the world-wide-web – the Internet.
These challenges can only be overcome if as individual countries and a continent we put in place social measures that will direct the energies of our youth into positive endeavours to toughen them up for the hard knocks of life.
It is thus heartwarming that the Africa Scout Association in conjunction with leaders such as President Yoweri Museveni, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Carl Gustaf of Sweden are leading the campaign to make scouting more relevant on the continent through various initiatives aimed at encouraging more young people to embrace the scout movement.
In May this year at a meeting with the leadership of the Africa Scout Association I called on governments and corporate institutions to support youth mentorship projects because the complex global environment makes it difficult for the youth to stay focused.
I did also state that participating in scout activities puts you in sync with the true value of humanity.
The values of the Scout Movement and let us also not forget the Girl Guides, are what we need for the youth everywhere. I am saying so because they are holistic. They do not deal with just one or another aspect of our living situation. The scout ethos reaches far into the individual and at the centre of the discipline it inculcates is the desire to sacrifice, to provide for, and to live for other human beings.
It is unfortunate that not all of us have had the fortune of experiencing this kind of discipline. Now more than ever, the world needs the values that we inculcate into the youth through such organisations as the Scout Movement.
Ladies and Gentlemen: I experienced scouting during my youthful years under the mentorship of my elder brother, the late Isaac Newton Addy, who passed away last year and was the Vice-Chairman of the Africa Scout Foundation at the time of his demise.
The simplicity, discipline, ingenuity and practical knowledge that you imbibe as a young person in the movement are what make you a scout. At the same time, a scout stands for the desire to support humanity, to help your community and to foster friendly and peaceful co-existence amongst people of diverse religious and ethnic persuasions.
The world, our continent not excluded, is saddled with conflict brought about by intolerance, political deceit and parochial economic interests, corruption and lack of transparency in national affairs. All these challenges are exacerbated by poor corruption indices that haunt our continent and contribute to under-development and its attendant social and political instabilities.
We cannot feel insulated from these issues because we have relative peace and restraint in the part of the world where we live. If we have to change the world and make it a better place we have to take drastic action to protect our youth and save them from seeking release in negativity.
When I was young, being a scout was part and parcel of our school extra curricula activities. Significant numbers of pupils and students subscribed to scouting activities because the educational structure appreciated the need for young people’s energies to be honed into a disciplined, hard working and resourceful force. The idea was that a good scout performed academically better because of the test of skill and intellect that he learned from the movement.
A Scout is Trustworthy
A Scout is Loyal
A Scout is Helpful
A Scout is Friendly
A Scout is Respectful and Kind
A Scout Conserves Nature
A Scout is Obedient
A Scout is Cheerful and Courageous under all Difficulties
A Scout is Thrifty
A Scout is Clean in Thought, Word and Deed
Unfortunately, the majority of the youth on our continent and across the globe do not operate by these principles we call the Scout Law and the reason is not far fetched – they do not belong to the Scout Movement.
The only way we can reverse the tide of inequality and the attendant violence that has permeated our social fabric is by offering the youth the opportunity to take control of their destiny by learning to take a principled stance. Any young person who has the opportunity to be trained as a scout, or Girl Guide, even for a brief period will accept and understand the need to be protective of their communities by seeking peace and development in a true patriotic and volunteering spirit.
Ladies and Gentlemen: I agree scouting is Africa’s leading force for youth empowerment, but we have a lot of work to do. The current strength of the scout movement in our countries is weak. In Ghana we have less than 4,000 registered members and the continental strength is currently five million. What can we do to change this?
This is a call to our political leaders; President Museveni and his compatriots, Ministers of State, Traditional Rulers, Provincial and other local government authorities, as well as Corporate Africa, to support the Africa Scout Foundation, which is the umbrella organization that offers financial and logistical support to various scout groups on the continent. King Abdullah and King Gustaf have played significant roles in contributing generously to the scouts movement. We also need political and corporate will on the continent in order to achieve the agenda of empowering our youth through scouting. More importantly we have to note that the scout movement is not only for young people but also for people young at heart. Age should not be an inhibiting factor to adults out there who want to make a difference and impart their knowledge and experiences to the younger generation. Mentorship is key to the success of any scout movement.
While we fashion out strategies to expand and resource the scout movement let me compliment the movement for the great works it is doing through its Messengers for Peace initiative. From helping to stem bullying in the UK, supporting street gangs to reduce violence in El Salvador, sanitation projects across the globe, rehabilitating civil war communities in Rwanda, to tree planting exercises across Africa, the initiative has brought new life to many communities. It was particularly heartwarming to note that the Scout Association in Lebanon is supporting the integration of thousands of Syrian refugees in Lebanon by providing basic needs such as warm clothing to enable them feel at home, especially during the winter.
The Food for Life campaign aimed at combating the food crises in parts of Africa as well as the Ebola Awareness Campaign are all commendable projects embarked upon by the movement. The world needs more of these initiatives.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: The world is at a crossroads. The challenges we face in terms of conflict, terrorism and social upheaval are not by accident. They are a direct creation of the stark inequalities we have in terms of social and economic sustenance. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. The ‘savagery of capitalism’ has had a brutal effect on the equitable distribution of resources. Sharing and caring, a major principle of the scouting concept is now alien to many societies. When people are pushed to the wall with no window to vent their frustrations, violence seems to be the only option.
Having been involved in conflict resolution in several parts of the continent I have come face to face with the horror of conflict, as well as the deep-seated anger of the oppressed. The time has come for the world to confront these realities. Armed confrontation against insurgencies and terrorism, perceived or not, is not sufficient to rid the world of conflict. The world will be a more peaceful and safe place if each individual seeks to improve the well-being of his neighbour and by extension his community. Our politicians will also have to eschew the penchant to take advantage of the populace by patronizing them. Governance is about being people centered and we all have a role in ensuring that we bring some of our errant leaders to order.
In conclusion, allow me to express my sincere gratitude to President Yoweri Museveni, the Government and People of Uganda, the Africa Scout Association and the Uganda Scout Association for offering me the opportunity to participate in this conference. Special congratulations to the Uganda Scout Association for chalking the 100th milestone.
My respect also goes to the leadership of the Africa Scout Foundation for the honour done to my beloved brother and friend, Isaac Newton Addy. Thank you for the kind words of tribute to his memory. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: Thank you.
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