PRESIDENT KHAMA ADDRESSES AFRICAN YOUTH
The 2nd African Youth Games roared into life on Thursday at a festive National Stadium with President Lt Gen. Seretse Khama Ian Khama advising that the games should serve the purpose of unifying the African youth.
Thousands of appreciative citizens braved the chilly winter weather to embrace the celebratory mood engulfing the country as it welcomed the rest of the continent in Gaborone. About 2 500 young athletes from 54 African countries are set to compete in 21 sporting codes. The games are held under the theme: Uniting African Youth: Catalysing Botswana’s Economic Diversification. President Khama in his official opening speech said the games, besides showcasing talent, should unify the African youth.
“Sport is one of the most cross-cutting of all development and peace tools. Through the 2nd African Youth Games, we are unifying the African youth as well as showcasing their talent.The games also provide an important platform for our young people to get to know one another and to cultivate mutual respect for each other and for others in the world we live in,” said President Khama. President Khama added, “amidst the many challenges experienced across the African continent, sport has brought us all together.”
President Khama said Botswana fully subscribed to the Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group for sport recommendations, which recognised the role that sport could play in promoting peace and development. He added that the recommendation resonated well with Botswana’s national principles of democracy, development, unity, self-reliance and Botho. “As a country, we believe that participation in sport promotes among other things, physical fitness and health, social harmony, nation building and self-reliance. We have through sport programmes meaningfully engaged young people,” he said.
The games, President Khama said, would present Botswana as a destination for tourism and investment.“We are confident that our visitors will experience our hospitality, humility and above all the unique culture and heritage that we have,” he added.President Khama explained that Botswana had desired to host a sporting event to showcase its home-grown talent on its soil, and that when the opportunity arose the country submitted a bid for the 2nd African Youth Games. The 1st African Youth Games were hosted for the first time in 2010 by Morocco, where about 1 000 athletes from 41 countries competed in 16 sporting codes.
President Khama thanked the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa and all African governments for entrusting their youth to Botswana. Furthermore, President Khama advised athletes to embrace the principle that winning or losing could be done with honour and dignity.President Khama also called for the release of the young girls who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorists in Nigeria. “As much as we all intend to enjoy ourselves during this event, let us also remember another group of young people in our thoughts and prayers who are the many young girls who were kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria.We hope that they will soon be reunited with their families and return to their education.”
Like all world leaders, President Khama also reiterated the now famous call of “Bring back our girls” in reference to the kidnapped girls.