On our second night in Pakistan we heard some devastating news, there was a flight that crashed only a few miles from the Islamabad airport. There were forty-seven people on the flight, all of them passed. This was a tragic event that not only affected a few families but ultimately the whole country. Due to this tragedy the summit was rescheduled to begin two days after the original start date in order to allow people to mourn.
During the two days that we had to spare before the summit began, all the delegates were asked to write a speech, this speech would be presented on the first day of the summit. Writing my speech was a very important experience for me, through writing I was able to analyze the realities of my identity. I was representing South Sudan and have never been to the country, yet it is still considered home to me. I was raised in Canada and also consider it home. I am a continental born diasporic African and I felt it was important to mention my experience. Along with this I decided to discuss the water crisis in South Sudan and the importance of intervention to the falling nation.
The day came, it was time to present my speech on behalf of South Sudanese youth both in the country and in the diaspora. The room was full of local youth delegates, youth international ambassadors, global governmental ambassadors, and a very distinguished panel on the stage. This panel included the World Chairman of the International Human Rights Commission, Dr. Khan, Former Prime Minister of Nepal, Mr Jhala Natha Khanal, Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousuf Raza Gilani, and Former Prime Minister of Tunisa, Hamadi Jebali. Not only was speaking at such an important event a nerve-racking experience but on top of it all, I felt like I had to impress the panel. A few delegates presented before me, then it was my turn. The chairman announced my name and in the introduction he mentioned South Sudan being the newest country in Africa and the importance of my voice being present at the summit for my community. I thought I was nervous before, but after my introduction I was even more nervous and felt the pressure. As I was walking to the stage I was followed by claps so loud I could feel the ripples move my feet. I knew that my nerves would take the best of me if I did not take my time with my speech, and so I did.
Though I wasn’t satisfied with my presentation, after I watch a recorded film I then realized that it was probably the most valuable presentation I’ve ever made to date. I say this because I was not only looking at my speech delivery; rather I looked at everything I had gone through in order to make it to that stage to deliver my speech. From hard work and dedication, to personal challenges, to the GoFundMe campaign, to issues receiving my visa and to building the courage and confidence to feel qualified enough to represent my country South Sudan.
I thank the Most High for guiding me through this whole experience and reminding me of how important it is to stay focused, have hope and push for what I want.
You will see the clip of my speech below. It only goes up from here.