In light of the Zambian elections on August 11th Restless Development Zambia held a Run For Peace marathon to promote the importance of non-violent elections. Sorcha, from Educational Development Agency Suas, writes about her participation in the event as part of our International Youth Day series ‘1 in 1.8 billion’, which celebrates the power of young people around the world.
This year, there is a sense among some Zambians that there may be violence in the aftermath of the elections, which will be a first. Zambians are renowned for their peacefulness and the positive energy is palpable on the streets and in the smiles of the people.
Then I found out about young volunteers working with Restless Development who are working to maintain the peace and avoid young people from being used as political tools. They organised a Run for Peace Marathon to promote non-violent elections.
Working with these young people showed us proved to me the breath-taking power of young people. There were speeches from Country Director, Harriet Mwiinga, and other staff, volunteers led a ‘quiz-show’ where members of the public were asked to come on stage and answer questions about the election for the chance to win a glamorous Restless Development t-shirt, and there was even a guest appearance from Zambian pop-star duo Drimz (you can listen to their amazzzing music here).
By this stage a huge crowd had gathered and everyone was glued to the stage. It seemed like such a simple, fun and innovative way to get people thinking about the election, their rights and what the voting entailed. In true Zambian style the day was finished off with a dance-off during which we (should I say I at least!) were shown up by pretty much everyone.
It may sound like a clichÃ© but the power of seeing so many young people up and at it at 6am on a Saturday morning, ready to talk, to run, to engage and to work together to change the faces of their community and their Zambia really is inspiring.
Watching the events of the day unfold I became gradually more excited about the future of Suas Volunteers in Zambia and how much collaborations between organisations like Suas and Restless Development can help us grow and learn together. It was certainly unforgettable for us meeting the staff and volunteers of Restless Development all working together to ‘be the change’. We left feeling even more ready for action!
A special thanks to Harriet, Chanda, Mwansa and Chiyanda at Restless Development for opening their arms and organization to us and for allowing us to cramp their style on the ‘dancefloor!’ We’ll be making a few future dates with our new friends so watch this space.
Hold leaders to account for the promises they make in elections – join Restless Development’s Youth Power Campaign.