Cameroon (National Times)-Despite the challenging state of affairs in Cameroon, there are still many young persons who are taking advantage of the situation and going beyond the reach of the ordinary youths in the country.
Ateki Seta Caxton is a Cameroonian who has risen from nothing to become the Founder and Board Chairperson of the African Movement for Democracy. He has traveled round the world, empowering young persons in the African continent and beyond and has worked with past and present world leaders.
Seta’s story started when he worked for a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Yaoundé which was aimed at promoting the rights of women, girls and young persons. It was while serving with the Women in Alternative Action (WAA) that he was exposed with the problems youths faced. “Having gone through the same problems youths faced I thought I could create an organization responding specifically to the needs of youths,” Seta said.
Together with some friends we started the Network for Solidarity, Empowerment and Transformation of All (NewSeta). “Coincidentally the organization carries my name but it is created to build empathy among us, solidarity within people, empower the youths and make them engage in democratic and political practices as well as exploit existing capacity barriers among youths,” Seta explained.
The Graduate from the University of Buea said that at the beginning, the organization was virtually limited to his house and online interactions with other volunteers. “At the beginning I virtually worked from my house and we shared ideas with each other online,” Seta said adding that “we virtually finance the projects from our pockets.”
However, what motivated Seta and his young team was the passion to reach out to youths. He explained that youths need to take advantage of the existing opportunities as a stepping stone. “We created the organization in July 2013 and immediately we applied to monitor the legislative and municipal elections and the Minister of Territorial Administration granted our request, which became our breakthrough.
Despite these successes at the elections, NewSeta was still to make greater exploits. Seta explained that after monitoring the elections, his organization applied for funding from several sources including the American based National Endowment for Democracy (NED). However, all their projects were rejected because funders were only ready to invest in organizations with past records. Having no real past record became a real problem for the young organization entirely run by youths. After several attempts and rejection NED finally approved the project and became the main sponsor of what has become known as REPAIR.
Launched in 2015, it has regrouped and trained hundreds of youths from all the ten regions of Cameroon in areas of democracy, peace building, capacity building etc. A programme which was launched for Cameroonians, today it has also trained participants from other countries like Equatorial Guinea and Madagascar while plans are underway to take it to Nigeria. NewSeta also succeeded in reuniting the youth caucus at the Cameroon National Assembly in 2016 and presented to them a project aimed at reducing voting age from 20 to 18. Even though not yet approved, Seta said the advocacy is ongoing.
World Movement for Democracy/Africa Movement for Democracy
In 2016, Seta applied for a fellowship organized by the World Movement for Democracy (WMD) wherein two persons are selected in the whole world every year for a six months fellowship. In 2016, Seta and a CNN Journalist were the only two selected in the world based on their projects. His project was to implement the African Movement for Democracy (AMD) aimed at empowering young people in the continent as well as women to get involved in democracy and politics.
After the fellowship in the United States, Seta developed the concept to start the movement and after galvanizing support from African leaders and civil society movements, the African Movement for Democracy (AMD) was launched in Cameroon in November 2016. The ceremony was chaired by the representative of WMD, Kamissa Camara who after then was appointed Foreign Affairs Minister of Mali at 35. More than 13 African countries were represented at the event.
Last year, AMD confab in Nigeria and Ateki Seta was elected unanimously as the President of the Board of Directors of the movement. Since its launching AMD has organized a fellowship for young African women interested in politics. It also monitored the Liberian elections which brought George Weah to power. AMD under the Cameroonian born Ateki Seta is also preparing to monitor the upcoming Nigerian Presidential elections among others.
Seta expounded that REPAIR is now working on a policy document to serve leaders of ECOWAS and CEMAC. The recommendations, he explained are aimed at promoting the freedom of speech, expression and demonstration which in these countries has been severely curtailed. Seta is of the opinion that a democratic state should allow its citizens to freely express their opinions in a pacific manner.
Seta said working in such a sector has greatly transformed his life personally as every situation makes him humbler. He however, owes his successes to the team which have been at the beginning of the organization and most of them are still part of the organization till date.
However, “trying to define myself every day, to be at the lead, taking decisions, listening to others has become a challenging exercise,” he concluded.