Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and chairperson of the Young Men Movement (YMM). He writes a weekly column for The Star, Pretoria News and IOL.

Johannesburg - After spending three full days with fellow young African leaders as part of the inaugural gathering of the Obama Foundation Leaders: African Programme, I am convinced that our dreams for a better Africa as emerging leaders are valid. Us gathering here has revealed to us that empowering each other, collaborating, and identifying and coming up with solutions as united Africans is what makes the future of our continent so bright and promising. The initiative from the Obama Foundation couldn’t have come at a better time. 

The past few days have imparted so much knowledge, wisdom and information to me as a young leader whose work is immersed in the well-being of the #boychild.

Often as young leaders, we are scared of failing in our adventures. We think that if we are working on fulfilling our purposes, the road should be easy. However, the day two panel that consisted of the amazing Jason Njoku, founder and CEO of IROKO, the home of Nollywood (Nigerian cinema) content; Bina Maseno, the founder of Badili Africa and Patrick Awuah, the founder and president of Ashes University, reminded us of the importance of failing forward, taking risks and the benefits of failure. Yes, I know. In the face of adversity or failure, I don’t see any beauty or benefits in failing, but there certainly are.

This assembly has already shown us the power of collaboration as young leaders. We have already established contacts with each other to ensure that we make our dreams work through the power of working together, and walking the journey towards a reimagined Africa side by side. 

We are an embodiment of the African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Our Africa dream is definitely to go far. 

What I stand for as a founder of the Young Men Movement (YMM), a non-government organisation that is working on the reconstruction of the socialisation of boys who will eventually be men, is affirmed in this place.   

We gathered here in Johannesburg, South Africa, and completely forgot about all the borders that separate us. Each and every one of us knows that we have each other to transform and make Africa even more better.

The truth is, I still cannot shake off the exciting feeling of being a part of this amazing programme. The thought of it gives me goosebumps. The pride in being African is oozing in me.

We face struggles, respectively as young Africa leaders from different countries. However, these incredible odds we overcome in pursuing a better future for our villages or communities at large is something that drives us.

No matter how crazy or impossible I thought my dreams may sound or be, when I gathered here with like-minded people, the doubt I had in myself and vision faded away, and self-belief made its way.

Irrespective of the number of times I will fail together with the YMM team I lead, we will know that failure is necessary in our journey. 

In my case, the #boychild has to be looked after, cared for and equally have safe spaces for him to express his fears and vulnerability. The reconstruction of his socialisation is a pressing matter in our society. 

The convening is not even done, and already I have a revived sense of purpose and commitment in serving my community, the country and the continent.

The biggest realisation is this; “As young African leaders, we have realised that we are the ones we have been waiting for.” And these relationships established through the Obama Leaders African programme will certainly go a long way in making us better leaders. It’s an exciting programme. 

* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder and chairperson of the Young Men Movement (YMM). He writes a weekly column for The Star, Pretoria News and IOL. Email, [email protected]; Twitter, @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala.