Meet Ousman Kennedy, a Young Muslim who is the leader of the house for the Commonwealth Youth Parliamentary Association African Region.
Ali Blessings Idi: Firstly would you introduce yourself?
Ousman Kennedy: I am Ousman Kennedy, a Yao by tribe from Makanjira Mangochi. I did my secondary school education at Albaakir Sec School and now am pursuing Bachelors Degree of law at Blantyre International University. I am a member of the youth parliament of Malawi for Mangochi north and also a leader of the house for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Africa Region Youth Parliament.
Ali Blessings Idi: What is Commonwealth Parliamentary Association African region Youth Parliament?
Ousman Kennedy: This the Youth Parliament at which Youth from across the African continent converge with the aim of deliberating on issues they feel they are critical and need to be addressed by the individual countries for the betterment of the youth fraternity. Each country is represented by 2 youthful parliamentarians (thus a male and a female) from the 68 member countries.
After the resolutions are drawn, they are taken to the regional Secretariat where Speakers of all main parliaments converge during their annual assembly where the said resolutions for youth parliament are discussed and thereby paving the way forward.
Ali Blessings Idi: How important is this parliament towards the development of any member country?
Ousman Kennedy: Well, this parliament is of great value towards the development of the individual countries that are within the CPA Africa region since it gives the youth themselves an opportunity to give directives where they feel there is a need to get changed or make tremendous improvements in as far as the development of their countries is concerned.
You may wish to note that, its high time youth have expressed the interest of taking part in the development of their individual countries with reference to the skills that they get in their field of studies and this happens to be one of the platforms through which their voices are heard on behalf of the entire youth fraternity.
This helps them to contribute both directly and indirectly towards the development of their countries through their resolutions that they do cordially produce in our preliminary sessions of the CPA youth parliament.
Ali Blessings Idi: How many countries are represented in this assembly?
Ousman Kennedy: In fact, about 68 member countries are the ones that constitute the CPA Africa Region Youth Parliament but however, due to the constraints in the availability of resources, the countries that so far have shown interest to be sending their youthful delegates to our meetings or sessions are 19.
Ali Blessings Idi: For how have been in the system?
Ousman Kennedy: Well, as per the normal procedure and the provision of our standing orders, each member of the CPA Africa Region upon assuming his/her position and take the oath of office is entitled to save for a maximum period of 2 years.
After 2 years it means the term of office for each member would be deemed to have phased out where finally the parliament is dissolved thereby paving way for a set of new members
Ali Blessings Idi: so why do you feel you as Muslim to be in such a position?
Ousman Kennedy: To be honest with you brother on this note, it’s like I feel happy if not delighted since it would give a testimony to every Muslim youth that for them to be in position does not mean for them to get their denomination concealed for opportunities come based on the creativity and passion that one has towards the development of our country.
As a matter of fact, for me to become a member of youth parliament for the CPA and again to rise to the position of the leader of the house for the CPA Youth Parliament did not cost me for any cancellation of my religion but rather the wisdom and creativity i have had to take me to this level.
For this reason, i would also be quick to mention that am proud on the other hand for being a role model to the Muslim youth so that them could also learn and develop the spirit of doing things in a systematic way like the way i do and emulate the same stand for the development of our religion and the country as a whole.
Ali Blessings Idi: What happened for you to be in this position?
Ousman Kennedy: It all derived from my superb performance that i had shown at the national level thus Malawi. And that passion and confidence went as far as at international level where i finally ended up with the entrustment by the entire CPA youth parliament to serve on such a big position of ‘Leader of the house’
Ali Blessings Idi: Are there any challenges you face in executing your duties because you a Muslim?
Ousman Kennedy: Mmmmh, so far i would say there have never been any challenges that i have once experienced in the process of executing my duties on my position just for being a Muslim. All I have received are words of encouragement from some of officials of the CPA secretariat based on how i lead the house.
However, you may wish to agree with me that challenges would always be there especially where one is leading a group of people with different values, believes and other variations.
Rightly so, I would say that challenges are there but i would always strive to maximise whatever I would have on my table to do with the transaction of business in the CPA parliament because that is where my track record could be traced. In so doing, I do even raise the reputation of my religion and thereby proving those that under-estimate Muslims in many aspect wrong.
Ali Blessings Idi: what are you doing in order to make sure that your fellow Muslims should follow your footsteps since this is a vital step towards having good leadership?
Ousman Kennedy : Where i feel having a chance of meeting with my fellow Muslim youth, i would encourage to be extremely conscious of who they are and what they are good at because that would make them to decide properly on the oversight role that they might choose to play in the society.
Above all, I do also take a bid to encourage them to work hard in their respective schools so much so that the knowledge that they could acquire from these schools could be used to develop both our religion and Malawi as a whole.
Most importantly, i would also reiterate to them a need of making what we call unity of purpose meant to make constructive noise that would make our religion recognized.
As if this may not be enough, i have always reminded them to join different groupings that are in Malawi with the sole intention of gaining and developing leadership skills for they are the same skills that may be needed for them let’s say to run an organization or institution that has something to do with leadership.
These are some of the issues that i would always share with my fellow youth whenever I meet them where ever we may meet.
Ali Blessings Idi: Is there any benefit we as Muslims can get out of your position?
Ousman Kennedy :Yes of course, as a matter of fact, myself being a Muslim and at the same time leader of the house for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Youth Parliament automatically gives non-Muslims an opportunity to know that Muslims have also every ability to sit in whatever position one may think of.
You may wish to note that in Malawi, Other religions get a lion’s share when it comes to the issue of acquiring positions in different portfolios at the expense of wise and brilliant Muslim faithful. This among other things is manifestated by the absence of any Muslim judge in our judicial system, Principle Secretary in any government ministry or department, just to mention but a few.
In this regard, my position would therefore give my fellow Muslims both young and old a strive-strength motive of engaging an extra-gear in a bid to overcome such kind of misconception hovering in the minds of other frustrated individuals who for their own motives behind tend to mislead the whole nation that Muslims are clueless and cannot perform.
Now with such a big position, it would signify that Muslims are also capable of doing what faithful of other religions think they cannot do.
Furthermore, using the same position, i would also influence my fellow Muslim youth to work hard so that they could also follow suit.
Ali Blessings Idi: For one to follow suit -what should be done?
Ousman Kennedy: My take on your final question is that its very easy for one to follow suit but it needs hardworking and dedication. For your own information, you may wish to agree with me that ‘success does not fall on a silver platter’ but rather there is a need to strive in order to maximize such kind of a dream.
In view of that, it is of great importance that Muslim youth should work hard especially in their different field of studies for them to become productive citizens.
Like i said in the recent exclusive interview i had been on radio Islam, that the youth parliament follows the same root of the main parliament.
In other words, the Main Parliament is the model of the Youth Parliament hence it uses Section ’38(b)(ii) of the Parliamentary and Presidential elections act of 1998 that strictly put one’s ability to speak English language as a qualification for him/her to stand as an MP’ like the way the Main parliament does.
This therefore signifies that, to become a member of Youth Parliament, one should be able to speak a very good English language full- stop.
Ali Blessings Idi: and finally what could be your concluding remark?
Ousman Kennedy : My appeal to my fellow youth is that lets not accept being used as political condoms by politicians but rather, get involved in the development of this country. Time is gone that we as young people should be seeking favours from politicians in return of royalty. Just to indicate a side note on this point, Malawi is our Country and as far as am concerned, this happens to be the right time that we as young people take a leading role in every aspect of development for the betterment of our country and the common man at the village.
Ali Blessings Idi: Thanks for granting us an opportunity of having an interview with u.
Ousman Kennedy: you are welcome and May the Almighty Allah bless Malawi. Thank You.