By Nachilala Nkombo, ONE Africa - Deputy Director
In January 2013, two years away from the expiry of the 2000 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Post 2015 agenda has already created a buzz in Monrovia and Johannesburg. As Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf hosts the United Nations High Level Panel on the Post 2015 Development framework this week, I was privileged to have joined an energetic group of ONE Africa staff, friends, partners and members at the launch of ONE’s new post 2015 SMS and social media campaign called ‘You Choose Campaign’. The main objective of this campaign is to engage Africans from all walks of life on what the new MDGs should focus on.
At the launch event Nigerian music star, Dbanj, urged the audience to write personal MDGs so that the collective MDGs can happen. Dbanj told the audience that he joined ONE because he is passionate about engaging on how best to end poverty. He noted that the ‘You Choose’ platforms provide opportunities for all to speak out so that barriers can be removed - or until they find their Jesus Christ! “We can make it, I am an example … Nigerian born, Nigerian made, Africa is more than what people think we are. We have more and have the opportunity to be more”, he said. The Nigerian-born music star and ONE member ‘Dbanj’ called onto the audience and his supporters to participate in this campaign that will influence their futures.
As Africa has close to 700 million mobile connections, the ‘You Choose Campaign’ will take advantage of the African mobile revolution to reach millions of Africans to add their voices. African Youth too who are 24/7 on social media will be encouraged to add their voices in shaping the new MDGs through ‘You Choose’. This campaign has already hit major airwaves in South Africa on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) TV, SABC SAFM and Metro FM. Citizens are encouraged to text their top priority issue to 30667 (South Africa), 57111 (Malawi) and 234 (Zambia). Campaign participants just have to submit their priority in a simple format via a free SMS or the web-based platforms. Their priorities could be as simple as food, land, jobs, public transport, skills, hospitals, leadership, accountability, corruption or another critical issue. On Thursday , 31 January 2013, a caller named Bongi told other listeners on SABC’s morning talk radio show in Johannesburg it is critical that leadership ensure that current and future MDGs are met. He cited how former President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia inherited a country with only a few schools and colleges and no university. Within the first years of independence, he was able to establish a countrywide network of primary and secondary schools and a university. Bongi Chose, and sent a free text to 30667 (South Africa). What do you choose? To choose, send a text for free to 30667 if you are in South Africa, 57111 if you are in Malawi and 234 if you are in Zambia or submit your issue at www.one.org/c/international/actnow/4585 if you are outside SA.
ONE hopes that citizens views collected via this campaign will be a helpful contribution to the multi-level United Nations led process that is formulating the future development goals. Unlike when the 2000 MDGs were formed, the post 2015 MDGs process is seeking advice this time from citizens on what future MDGs should address when the current ones expire in 2015. ONE is working in partnership with more than 20 organisations and influential parties that include the UN, civil society organisations, churches groups, radio stations and various media houses in rolling out this drive. ONE is particularly working closely with the UN My World team so as to ensure that the feedback collected through ‘You Choose’ will be included in the meeting of the High Level Panel on the Post 2015 agenda to be held in March 2013 in Bali, Indonesia.
ONE is thrilled that African icons such as Hugh Masekela, Dbanj, Lira, Benni McCarthy, Chris Katongo, HHP, have joined hands with ‘You Choose’ to urge ordinary African citizens to join the call to action. Launches in Malawi and Zambia will follow on the 12th and 19th of February respectively. In Zambia, the campaign will be backed by local celebrities that include former Big Brother Housemate, Mampi, singing sensation, Slap Dee and Zambia’s own TV producer, Mary Magambo, and one of the hip and hottest artists on the Zambian music scene Kachanana. In Malawi the campaign will be backed by Malawian stars Dan Lu, and Bon Kalindo. You Choose participants will have an option to join ONE so as to have opportunities to join current campaigns ONE is running on improving health and Agriculture investments in Africa. Remember to choose by texting for FREE to 30667 (South Africa), 57111 (Malawi) and 234 (Zambia)!