Young people in Africa see democracy as their way toward a brighter future, and are working to strengthen democratic culture across the continent, according to Amujae Leader and Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr.
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr lauded democracy as a system that delivers outcomes benefiting both individuals and society at large during a recent public lecture entitled ‘Sierra Leone Democracy: Opportunities, Challenges and the Way Forward,’ delivered at the University of Makeni.
During her insightful lecture, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr presented democracy as a system of government that places citizens at the center of the decision-making process. By walking her audience through several key features of the democratic process—a constitution, respect for human rights and the rule of law, a voting system, and citizen participation—she painted a picture of democracy as a system with the notions of equality, equity, and equal rights at its core.
“Over the years, particularly since the 1800s, democracy has been seen by many—and I must admit, I am among the many—as being the best system of government to put the interests of citizens first and to protect rights.”
Focusing on the state of democracy in Sierra Leone, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr highlighted the opportunities that exist for strengthening democratic processes in the country, particularly with regards to protecting human rights and listening to citizens’ concerns.
She also addressed the issue of citizen participation, using her Transform Freetown initiative—where the residents of the city were given a say in the development of its agenda—as an example.
Despite the many opportunities that exist for democracy in Sierra Leone, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr warned against “slipping in the wrong direction” and emphasized the crucial role that the government and public leaders must play in ensuring and upholding democracy for citizens.
“It is absolutely imperative that each action that is taken, that is making a difference to the future of this country—each government decision, each change to the constitution, each implementation of the law… It is critical that those decisions do not lead to the erosion of our democratic principles, but rather to building on them.”
Mayor Aki-Sawyerr concluded her lecture by urging the citizens of Sierra Leone to “stand together” and make the best of the opportunities to deepen democracy in their country.
Watch the full lecture here: https://fb.watch/aW5j0e3GVo/