On that warm evening, he declared, 'Those who want to measure the height of achievements should measure the depth of the valley from which we came' the scene was an African Union Summit and the man behind this statement is the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. In times past, the National Union of Ghana Students engineered revolutions and regimental transitions, and influenced government’s policy on education and the development of the youth
Today, the story is a pale shadow of that glory. It is therefore not surprising that the relevance of our existence as a union is being questioned I sincerely believe in my heart that we must constitute the conscience of the over 12 million students across the country and imbibe objectivity into our discourse. NUGS must reclaim its glory!
To do so, it begins with making COMPETENCE, SELFLESSNESS, HARDWORKING, and above all , HUMILITY as the pivot our decision making process. History chronicles milestones in the pages of the earth what students have been able to do with their might and main, and energy. The evidence is not far to fetch.
The Student movement is basically, works by students to cause political, environmental, economic, or social change. Student groups have influenced greater political events on this continent, and all over the world. The movement grows because it’s whom we are; because it is in our nature to see positive changes in society; because it is our nature to be the voice for the voiceless. Our very
nature involves connecting with brothers and sisters around the world. As students, we need to create and belong to something that is bigger than our individual institution and ourselves.
WHERE THE STRUGGLE BEGUN
History sparkles with the life stories of Africans of the century who placed the lives of fellow men above theirs, and who respected principle other than possessions. History gave us ample evidence of how they used their lives to better the lives of the masses. Yet, history has been oblivious of the very trait that glued them to their visions to liberate all Africans and unite them.
The student movement has seen the birth of the greatest African leaders. The movement ‘groomed’ them and presented them to the world in whole.
Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana’s first president), J.B Danquah (First President of West African Students union), Patrice Lumumba (Congo’s first President), Steve Biko (Founder of South African students Union (SASO) and Black Consciousness Movement), Nelson Mandela (the First black president of South Africa), Robert Sobukwe (Founder of South African Congress) who spoke of the need for south Africans to liberate themselves without the help of non - Africans, whose strong convictions inspired many other individuals and organizations involved in the anti- apartheid movement. Nobel men like Juvenal Habyarimana, who chaired the committee for peace and National Unity and subsequently became the president of Rwanda from 1973 to 1994. These and many others were born out from the students’ movement. These can only be said of as the fond
memories of the movement.
On August 1925, twenty-one law students, led by Lapido Solanke and Herbert Bankole-Bright, somewhere in London, the West African students Union was founded. They spearheaded a campaign that improved the welfare of all African students in London, with J.B Danquah becoming its first president. They promoted political research and self-determination of the African.
Somewhere in December 1945, history saw the birth of The West African National Secretariat (WANS) - a Pan-Africanist movement founded by Kwame Nkrumah, together with like-minded individuals such as Wallace-Johnson, Bankole Akpata, Kojo Botsio and Bankole Awoonor-Renar. That is where the united movement to liberate all African countries from the
colonialists began. The students’ movement spanned the road to independence. And we all know the events that followed afterwards.
In the days of the Preacher man who took the first step of the march to Washington, students took the march with him. The civil right movement, led by Martin Luther King Jnr., explores the new generation of students leaders in the early 1960’s who fought segregation by making their voices
heard and exercising their first amendment rights. Within those periods, when in 1960 four African American college students launched the sit-in movement by refusing to leave their counter stools after being serviced in the whites-only section. The movement was living its rightful
Through the non -violent coordinating committee, the young activists took direct action to end segregation and break down barriers in voting rights, education and the workplace by organizing sits-ins marches and voter registration drives.
Not so far away from where they celebrated Nelson Mandela, In Soweto (in the 1970s), up to 20,000 high school students rose up to protest a law forcing them to speak English and Afrikaans- A language that, then not-so-well-known Archbishop Desmond Tutu, called ‘the language of
It still stands on the memory of the movement the response from the then government. Police response was rapid and brutal. And when the dogs they set on school children were
beaten, security forces opened fire, killing between about four dozens of students. A children’s graveyard outside the town of Soweto is a living testament to what has been stated above. The students’ movement took the first walk to freedom. Ask history!
Not so long ago, In North Africa, students instigated and led a revolution that saw to the overthrowing of a 30 year dictatorships that ruled through brutality and oppression as
the leading example to the world. The movement overthrew dictatorship in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen in what came to stand as the Jasmine Revolution. Even today, the procession and occupation at ‘Tahir square’ for 18 days stands as a symbol for the new wave of struggle of the
student movement throughout the world. The method of processing and occupying the square has become a symbol of new mobilizations.
We have taken to the streets, employed the philosophy of non-violence, demonstrated and faced down repression from governments. But, yet the movement marches forward.
Not so long ago, In Chile (Latin America), when the government wanted to privatize their education system, the movement brought onto a scene major demonstrations not ever seen in decades. Chilean students pushed forward tremendous mobilizations, using their great deal of creativity and bravery, against the privatization of public education.
Through all these struggles, students have faced much resistance and repression. Governments make efforts to silence, by force (in all methods they can employ) the indignant shout of the students. The movement has seen hundreds killed and more than thousands taken as political prisoners. The movement has seen thousands of students torn apart with bombs, tear gas, rubber bullets, and lethal weapons. But, despite all these, we march forward!
The lessons learnt
In all these we have learnt great lessons-mainly, because just like every movement, there ought to be some mistakes. We have learnt from the moment of great crises and the moments of victory. We have learnt effective organization is imperative in the struggle.
We have learnt that if we raise high the flag of students’ unity, reviving the spirits and hard work of the founding fathers, we shall create the key combination of the youth’s
explosive energy and the experience of our founding fathers to cause positive revolutions in society.
Another lesson we have learnt is that, each struggle of students and the youth as a whole should serve the purpose of strengthening its organizations, in a democratic, independent way, united for common good. And these organizations should have one of their priorities creating
We have learnt that, regardless of the uneven development in our countries, regardless of our cultural differences, there is one thing we are sure of- there is a common reality our generation is facing. And if it is affecting us as a whole, then we must answer as a whole. We have learnt that if we are to establish strong bonds among youth organizations, we shall be in a better position
to struggle and dream of a better future.
We have learnt that, with the combative spirit, we can fight and fearlessly march onward.
The way forward
Seated here are great personalities that will within the shortest possible time be in the helm of affairs in building this nation.
I invite all of us; all the organizations of students and the youth to march forward this struggle. The world needs you. Africa needs you!
We need to crystallize the needs and aspirations of all students across the continent and to seek to make known and channel their grievances through the appropriate structures.
Where possible, we need to put into effect programs designed to meet the needs of the 21 st century students and to act on a collective basis in an effort to solving such needs that affect us collectively. ‘When the master of the house lacks wisdom, the doctor's work is useless’, today's African students movement must endeavor to practice the mantra of emancipation of students
through dialogue and the philosophy of nonviolence; yet in disciplining, you must use both stick and carrot. When the carrot is broken, the stick must be applied. We need to increase the degree of contacts not only in Africa, but also in other parts of the world. We must, as a matter of urgency avoid all forms of individualism, and also advance to eschew the high propensity to give up in the midst of challenges. We therefore, have to as a matter of importance, synergize our internal visions to ensure the achievement of that pinnacle.
We have to ensure that students all across the continent are always treated with dignity and with respect. A clear thinking leader is a sign of stability and an agent for change in society, this is the type of leaders that we need now.
We need to, still, protect the interests of students and to act as a pressure group on all institutions and organizations for the benefit of all students. We have to build our capacities, improve our individual selves so that we contribute largely to the policy direction taken by the various institutions on social, political and other levels.
A group of sheep led by a lion can overcome a group of lions led by a sheep. We should remain intransigent on the fact that with resilience advocacy, the students’ movement
shall forever remain resolute.
We march on! We are many, but with one struggle.
Long Live Africa !!!
Long Live Ghana!!