Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Angolan Looks Forward To Governance Tips From President Obama

By Jim Fisher-Thompson

Washington - Angolan lawyer and human rights activist Luis Kandangongo Jimbo looks forward to attending President Obama's Forum with Young African Leaders to gain tips on how to work with civil society in furthering good governance.

Jimbo is one of 120 young African leaders from 17 nations chosen by local U.S. embassies to attend the August 3-5 White House conference that includes a town hall-style meeting with President Obama, who has family roots in Kenya.

Before leaving for his first visit to the United States, Jimbo spoke with America.gov about his expectations. "I hope to gain more capacity, experience, understanding and global views about leadership initiatives from young Africans and Americans, particularly on the topics of jobs creation, entrepreneurship and advocacy," Jimbo said. "I hope to use this knowledge to promote good governance, human rights, conflict resolution and economic development in Angola."

Jimbo studied law at the Universidade Agostinho Neto in Luanda, Angola, and worked as a youth program consultant for the nongovernmental organization Search for Common Ground. For that group, he worked to engage civil society in the reconciliation process, serving as a "peace-building practitioner" among traditional authorities, provincial government officials and political party representatives across all of Angola's 18 provinces.

In 2006, he worked as a trainer for Angola's National Electoral Commission and served as a domestic observer for the elections. Recently, he joined another nongovernmental group, the Instituto Angolano de Sistemas Eleitoral e Democracia (IASED), through which he promotes youth involvement in constitutional reform and Angola's democracy. Jimbo is the organization's executive director.

Jimbo said that during discussions with President Obama, he would like to explore creating a "more permanent framework" through which networks would be established that will be creative in addressing young leadership on current and emerging issues. Such a framework, he said, would foster strong linkages between the youth and higher levels of government, and would further develop local governments' leadership capabilities. The framework also would have young people focus on the decisionmaking process for political reforms and integrate innovative academic theory and practical grass-roots initiatives to achieve a "balanced learning experience for future generations."

Jeff Hawkins, charge d'affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Luanda, told America.gov that President Obama's "emphasis on the power of youth in government and politics will provide motivation to a new generation of Africans to become active participants in their societies. This new generation can bring innovative thinking and solutions to the challenges facing Africa," he said.

Jimbo is a good example, Hawkins added. "He has distinguished himself as a leader by becoming a voice in support of civil society and the dialogue of important issues, such as democracy and constitutional reform in Angola. His work in establishing and leading IASED shows his commitment to helping Angola build networks to establish good governance, strategic leadership and public reform."

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