Youth manager’s ‘fantastic’ U.S. visit

2011-09-12 00:00

HIBISCUS Coast manager for youth development Phumlani Mzobe addressed a select audience, including a group of African-Americans, at the African Heritage Celebration held at the Silver Spring Civic Centre in Washington DC recently.

The celebration was hosted by the African Affairs Advisory Group of Montgomery County, Maryland, on September 4. Mzobe was invited as a guest speaker at the launch of African Heritage Month, when Africans living in the United States celebrate their heritage in a series of public events.

Mzobe addressed 500 delegates from 10 African countries and African-American citizens. He told them, “Unity and intercontinental relations will speed up the process of addressing cultural intolerance, racism and discrimination.”

He also touched on the pressing issues of poor governance and maladministration, crime and drug abuse, high levels of illiteracy, HIV and Aids, unemployment and the lack of critical skills to enhance the economy.

“As a 27-year-old young guy from a developing country and without having a PhD to my name, I felt very honoured to be so warmly welcomed by international delegates,” Mzobe said.

He shared the platform with Eskinder Negash, director in the office of refugee settlement in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “I was privileged to share the platform with Negash. He spoke at length about refugee settlements in the States and how they are being run.”

Negash also emphasised that African Americans must unite in helping to orientate African refugees to the American system hand.

Mzobe said the youth in Washington DC face similar challenges to the youth in South Africa: “high teenage pregnancy rates, new infections of HIV … so it is the same problems back home.” But he added that the response and intervention in the U.S. is much more immediate than in South Africa.

He has been in the U.S. for two weeks and has visited many organisations, government departments and American Heritage sites. This week he will be a special guest at a youth summit in New York.

“It has been a really fantastic trip so far. “But I must say that the young people are not as friendly as those in our country. Their culture is different so they come across as being anti social sometimes.

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