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The birth of Project Pakati - the name

The birth of Project Pakati - the name

The past decade has seen the emergence of a number of initiatives focused on developing new leaders on the African continent. But new leaders, in and of themselves, cannot have an impact on the direction of the continent if they remain on the periphery rather than at the centre where decisions are made and implemented. For a continent that is disproportionally young, young leaders are woefully missing at the centre.

The questions linger: “How do we ensure more young leaders are at the centre? If leaders are on the periphery and not at the centre - how can they raise their voices in a way that can be heard and makes a difference? How can they influence decision-making at the centre?”

In answering these questions, the birth of the name Project Pakati emerged. It is in keeping with the objectives of the Ford Foundation project in relation to the landscape of young African leaders. Pakati is a Bantu word – Shona, Ndebele and Zulu - which means the 'centre' and aptly captures the objective of the project which is to make young leaders more visible. In addition to “centre,” it also means 'inside' or 'within'. The seat at the table can only be had from inside and from within and this speaks to the opening-up of spaces required to allow young leaders into various African institutions. One cannot occupy a seat at the table whilst outside. An African name was preferred in keeping with the Africa-focus of the project.

Written by : Bridgette Mdangayi

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