Today was a fantastic day at Africa Alliance in Senegal. The 10th Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) was officially opened. We got up early in the morning for a nice pool side breakfast before we entered the busses to take us to YMCA in Dakar, ca two hours away. Close to Dakar we stopped at the Renaissance Monument, a huge monument with around 100 steps up to the beginning of the statue.
There we took the official group photo and a number of different constellations for photo, like staff. ExCom, partners plus a lot of private groups. It was already very hot under the rising sun, and from this point of our travel there was no more air conditioning.
From here onwards we were traveling in small, public busses through Dakar City. I was lucky and ended up in a bus crowded with Change Agents/S2C Ambassadors. There was a singing and shouting, rapping and playing with rhythm and words, and I joined them with all my voice. People were watching us bewildere4d from the pavements, a singing and shouting public bus! Unusual!
I got to be in the middle of a bunch of S2C ambassadors and could feel all the energy, the positive vibrations, the enthusiasm and joy, the playfulness and the humour. These are people able to change whatever there is to be changed in this world! I enjoyed it, even if my hearing was reduced and my voice was rusty afterwards. And I was to deliver a key note speech later in the day!
Eventually we arrived at the YMCA and we were meeting under a big marquee and the sun was burning mercilessly on top of it. But we were reasonably well protected. The attire was formal, so a lot of perspiration took place under tight, white shirts with ties and black suits of top of it. But we are used to such occasions, at least I am, and I know full well that nothing of this will kill me. So I somehow enjoy the strong sun and the hot temperature and just push on.
The programme in the opening ceremony was really profiled by Ambassadors/Change Agents. They were leading devotions, they were singing and dancing, reading poems and playing music. Some of the inputs were strong and moving, so that no eye was dry.
Evelyn Gueye, our Vice President in World YMCA comes from Senegal, so she was leading the programme elegantly in both French and English.
The hospitality is just overwhelming and we were well fed and given as much water as we needed and wanted.
Marjory from Zambia got up and told her own story of change. She became a Change Agent in 2012 and had Prague Festival and Estes Park World Council behind her. She told us what it had meant for her to go through the training and all the experiences in Africa and globally. “Transformation is transformation fully – this is really the point of no return,” said Marjory and referred to the theme of the conference.
NGS John from the Gambia read a poem about future hope for the continent of Africa, and being a talented actor, he even imitated Martin Luther King so that it went coldly down my spine. It was like hearing Dr King!
A big group of children from the YMCA school was there and they performed for us with singing and dancing.
President of AAY, James Ekow Rhule, gave his speech, the President of Senegal YMCA gave his welcoming words, and we even had the General Secretary of the Ministry for Youth and Tourism there to greet us.
In-between all the speeches we were helped by beautiful singing and dancing, basically from the Change Agents, but also a good number of young people from Senegal YMCA.
I was given the floor to give my key note speech on the theme Point of no return.
Finally we opened officially a new part of the YMCA school, and all of us participating in the cutting of the ribbon got a piece of it in the national colours as a souvenir.
Peter Posner had arrived the previous evening, but stayed in Dakar waiting for us, so it was good to catch up with him and we are planning a nice dinner together tonight when we return to our hotel at the beach.
No invitations tonight for sailing to a point of no return! We are all a bit tired after the long bus rides and the burning sun, so we are relaxing under the evening sun.
A fantastically inspiring and fascinating experience, especially the leadership of the Change Agents/S2C Ambassadors.
They give me hopes for the future and inspiration for today and I thank God for the S2C!Africa Alliance of YMCA’s