Change Makers Leadership Program Launches in Nigeria

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Jan 29, 2019
by Lucy Browett
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Change Makers Leadership Program Launches in Nigeria

Students participate in a Salzburg Global-inspired leadership training program Students and faculty at American University of Nigeria (AUN) Academy in Yola, Nigeria, took part in the Change Makers Leadership Program (Picture: AUN)

A Salzburg Global-inspired program to promote pluralism and tackle extremism across Africa has launched in Nigeria.

Starting on September 26, students and faculty at American University of Nigeria (AUN) Academy in Yola, Nigeria, took part in the Change Makers Leadership Program, a week-long training program focusing on teaching leadership skills among 15 to 18-year-old African students.

The Program evaluates historical atrocities, such as the Rwandan Genocide, the Holocaust, and apartheid in South Africa, and uses them as case studies to encourage students to think critically about how to combat extremism in the future.

Its goal is to give its participants the tools to address the needs of their communities as well as work towards creating peaceful African societies. The Change Makers Leadership Program spends two days with the teachers, followed by a youth workshop for the students, to allow them to carry the work forward in Nigeria

Abba Abubakar Tahir, vice president for university relations at AUN, discussed the impact of the program and its scope to be implemented in other education facilities.

Speaking with AUN, Tahir said, “As an institution focused on community engagement and service learning, I wish to assure you that after this inaugural training, beneficiaries would immediately reach out to other schools and communicate our mission to expand the benefits.”

Salzburg Global Fellows Tali Nates, Richard Freedman, Freddy Mutanguha, and Mubigalo Aloys Mahwa conceived of the Change Makers Leadership Program while attending Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism in 2016, part of the Salzburg Global’s Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention series, when they set out to design a program for Africans by Africans. Through the collaboration of teams from Rwanda and South Africa, the activities were further developed and piloted in those two countries during 2017. 

At Learning from the Past: Sharing Experiences across Borders to Combat Extremism in 2017, Nates and Mutanguha were joined by Fellows from across Africa to explore ways to spread the work continent-wide. Nates and Mutanguha have subsequently crisscrossed Africa to make the Program available in 18 additional countries by 2019, including most recently successful launches in Mozambique, the Gambia, Senegal, and Nigeria.

The launch of the Change Makers Leadership Program in Nigeria was made possible through funding from the University of Leeds, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung. It was organized through a partnership between the American University of Nigeria, the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, the Kigali Genocide Memorial, and Aegis Trust. Salzburg Global Fellow Obioma Uche, assistant professor of petroleum engineering at AUN, has coordinated the efforts there.

The six facilitators conducting the Program at AUN Academy were from Rwanda and South Africa. Various secondary schools in these countries have already successfully implemented the Program.

Tali Nates told AUN, “We developed a program that looks at youth leadership but looking at it through the lens of past histories. We wanted to look at a difficult past in three case studies in Africa, locally in our country, and globally.”

Learning from the Past: Promoting Pluralism and Countering Extremism took place as part of the Holocaust Education and Genocide Prevention multi-year series. This series has been running since 2010 in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The series promotes peace, reconciliation, and pluralist societies by advancing structured dialogue, research, knowledge-sharing, and cross-border projects, engaging educators, practitioners and museum curators from over 50 countries, mostly from the Global South, and many with recent experience of mass violence or rising extremism. Cross-border and cross-cultural exchanges have fostered new ways of thinking and have facilitated international partnerships for building better societies, generating outreach to the next generation.