Young Africans gather in South Africa, charged on global goals

It was a double celebration last weekend in Johannesburg when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted selected young Africans and other development stakeholders from around the world at the Goalkeepers event.

The initiative is meant to inspire young Africans in the media, development and civic space to be part of the bigger Goalkeepers community while considering the change Goalkeepers can make in their individual and collective capacities.

Also, through the initiative, Goalkeepers are expected to understand the biggest challenges they face in developing and sharing meaningful change-focused content toward realising the global goals (also known as Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs).

“The Goalkeepers community is a group of ‘Next Generation’ leaders from across the world who can drive action, awareness and accountability on the Global Goals (also known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs),” a statement by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation stated on Friday.

The events, which included activists, policymakers, business, media and influencers, took place alongside the Mandela 100 Global Citizen Concert on Sunday. The Mandela concert featured, among others, global entertainment figures such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Ed-Sheeran, Usher, D’banj, Femi Kuti, Tiwa Savage, among others.

Goalkeepers was launched by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2017 in partnership with Project Everyone. It is dedicated to accelerating progress towards the Global Goals using powerful stories, data, and partnerships to highlight progress achieved, hold governments accountable and bring together a new generation of leaders to address the world’s major challenges.

Countries represented at the Johannesburg event include Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, Senegal, Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Inspiring Saturday

The event which began with a reception earlier on Friday night kicked off proper on Saturday as goalkeepers in the media were drilled and inspired by an array of emerging and established leaders from across Africa and other parts of the world. Mark Suzman, chief strategy officer of the Gates Foundation took the first session and journalists poured their minds on challenges they face reporting developmental issues across Africa.

A workshop was held afterwards wherein all the selected goalkeepers from Africa were taken through innovative means of organising a powerful campaign to effect change on the African continent. Two breakaway sessions held afterwards with journalists and influencers taken through the media and the civic space.

The two separate sessions had journalists and media influencers who were taken through technical support on insights and best practice for storytelling and writing content to inspire change across Africa. They were also shown best practices in terms of interpreting data in a meaningful way and how they can lobby for better information that inspires action and commitment for the realization of the global goals.

The media session was facilitated by Jill Hamilton, CEO of Weber Shandwick Africa and it had speakers like Steven Lang, Editor of Grocott’s Mail and Lailah Ryklief from OpenUp’s Data Literacy Programme.

Lunch was served afterwards and the main Goalkeepers event began proper.


Having been inducted into the larger Goalkeepers community at the workshop, selected Goalkeepers were taken through the tasks at hand in ensuring that the global goals are met across Africa and other parts of the globe. The session began with Loyiso Madinga and Tumelo Mothotoane welcoming Goalkeepers into the community. He was joined by Mr Suzman and Precious Moloi-Motsepe.

Shortly afterwards, Nigeria’s former minister of environment and United Nation’s Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, was introduced by Ellen Chilemba to discuss the power of the global goals. Ms Mohammed began by explaining that partnership is important, especially among goalkeepers in Africa, as it can influence the impact of young peoples’ initiatives. She also added that the government cannot address all developmental challenges alone, adding that there is a need for individuals to contribute their quota too.

Mrs Mohammed said the SDG initiative is a comprehensive agenda, which addresses a myriad of developmental concerns around the globe. She made allusion to efforts of Nigerians in the civic space and what they have achieved with the #NottooYoungtorun bill, saying it is important to collaborate.

The UN official also explained that the biggest alignment in the global goals is with peace, without which development may be impossible. She also lauded Africans on the need to sustain regional integration and promote economic growth.

River used for survival by residents

Young Africans gather in South Africa, charged on global goals

Young Africans gather in South Africa, charged on global goals

She ended her intervention by advising young goalkeepers across Africa to close developmental gaps with collaboration. “Organise, build a movement and act on them,” she said.

Mr Suzman in his next intervention encouraged young Africans to document progress made in the realisation of the goals. He also advised that all goals highlighted in the SDGs should be given priority.

On the need to build a movement, Graca Machel, widow of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, advised young goalkeepers to collaborate because they “are not going to change the world alone”.

She enjoined that goalkeepers should use the power of network and ability to collaborate to build a stronger movement and create more impact across Africa.

She added that extreme poverty has increased and may continue to increase, especially in Africa, stressing that young Africans must reject such development in their generation.

She also advised the young people to ensure that they vote in progressive leaders across the continent, adding that good leadership is essential for the growth and realisation of the global goals. She added that the late Mandela succeeded because he built a movement, urging goalkeepers to build strong regional movements to tackle their immediate challenges.

The Saturday event ended with the presentation of a Global Goal award to one of the goalkeepers and a reception held afterwards.

Mandela 100 Global Citizen Festival

The next day was the Mandela 100 Global Citizen Festival wherein Goalkeepers joined other Africans and citizens of the world to deliberate on global goals at an entertainment event headlined by Beyonce and Jay-Z.

Hosted by comedian Trevor Noah, other world leaders at the event which marked Mandela’s 100th birthday include the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame; Ms Machel; Ms Mohammed; President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo; President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, among others.

Other entertainment figures who performed and made appearances at the festival which held till the middle of the night include Nigerian duo of Tiwa Savage and Wizkid; filmmaker Tyler Perry; renown TV host Oprah Winfrey; rapper Pharrell William; Afrobeat icon Femi Kuti, among others.

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