Q&A with Foba Akom, ONE AU Youth Voices finalist

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“I believe education is one of the most powerful tools used to effect long term change.”

Tell us about yourself?

Presently, I volunteer at two youth led associations based in the South West region of Cameroon, the one is called Better Breed Cameroon and the other Noela Lyonga Foundation.

What inspires you?

What inspires me most is when I see acts of selfless love being carried out. It shows me the power we have to effect change by simple everyday decisions and delaying our gratification for long term gains for all. It gives me hope.

Why are you passionate about human rights specifically girls’ rights and access to education?

I am passionate about human rights because it’s necessary for the survival of our species. It might sound dramatic, but if we think it through it’s absolutely true. If we do not look out for each other and let differences in skin tone, race, class, sex or whatever serve as an excuse for us not to care about another human, the message being sent out is you have to care only about your own interest or the interests of those who look, behave and think like you. This leads to dysfunctional communities with fear and mistrust of the other who is different. In the short run, relationships become strained. We as humans are social animals and an unhealthy social climate will have adverse effects on our health most especially on our mental health leading to rising crime rates and substance abuse. Conflict then becomes inevitable in the long run.

I believe emphasis should be placed on upholding of girls’ rights because for a long time the girl child has been at a disadvantage and considered inferior to the boy child. This gave the males an unfair advantage. To even out the playing field for a more egalitarian society, more resources should be allocated to girls’ education and dismantling the harmful systems in place which promotes gender inequality in different fields. It is the logical thing to do.

I believe education is one of the most powerful tools used to effect long term change. It changes perception, instils discipline and self-confidence when properly carried out.Hence, one of the best means to attain a more just and equal society.

Tell us about one woman who inspires you and why she inspired you?

One of the women who inspires me the most is my aunt, Dr Foba Josepha. She teaches me every day to just keep going and put in your best irrespective of what everyone else around you is doing. I am fortunate to be close enough to her to know some of her flaws and, this is what inspires me the most because she never lets the knowledge of these flaws stop her. Often, we think that in order to be a good person or do something good for your community you have to be perfect in all areas of your life. From her I learnt that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to decide, focus, hold your head up and keep going.

What one BIG idea should African leaders adopt to harness the power of girls and transform all our futures? Read our top youth voices’ ideas here.

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