KENYA YMCA CENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
Kenya YMCA centennial celebrations renew commitment to youth development in Africa
It was pomp, pleasantries, party, excitement and ululations as a carnival frenzy engulfed the city of Nairobi, Kenya, on 13 November 2010. The busy traffic was drowned out by the hooting of vuvuzelas and cheers from marchers en route to the celebration’s venue. Life on the streets was temporarily brought to a stop as the YMCA road show caravan and the boys’ brass band snaked through, in the midst of heavy rains, announcing to the world that the Kenya YMCA was now a hundred years old.
The 2010 celebration comes exactly one hundred years since the Kenya YMCA was introduced in 1910. The leading stories at that time were the arrival of the Indian Coolies and the Dukawallas into Africa; the missionary escapades; the formation of the Union of South Africa; and Mexican revolutions. It is the year that Leo Tolstoy, the Great Russian novelist died, and the year when Albania saw the birth of a child who was to become Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
This is the year that President Theodore Roosevelt of the Unites States of America had taken a temporary break from politics and travelled to Kenya, a British protectorate in East Africa at the time.
After making a long tour from the coast of Mombasa by train, as documented in the library of congress, Roosevelt arrived in Nairobi in time to see a football match between the barefooted local team, Kenya Railways, and a visiting well-equipped team from Scotland. The thrashing that was given to the African team, due to lack of experience and equipment, is not worth description!
After the final whistle, Roosevelt wondered what it would take to establish a well-equipped team of Africans. After a few consultations with both his orderlies and the British officials who were hosting him, and a sizable donation of $2000, the Kenya YMCA was born.
A hundred years later, the Kenya YMCA centennial celebration, themed ‘Transforming youth for socio-economic and environmental sustainability’, ushered in a new era of social change with the festivities held at the National Secretariat basketball court. Over 700 hundred members, friends, national leaders and diplomatic missions from around the country attended, while the international YMCA community was well represented by partners from Germany, England, Uganda, Tanzania, Japan, and the Africa Alliance.
On the preceding day, 12 November 2010, the youth of the Kenya YMCA held a consultative meeting to map out the agenda for the next millennium. This culminated with the launch of a comprehensive youth policy and a commitment to the Subject to Citizen (S2C) programme, which led to the recital of the S2C pledge at the celebrations, a gesture which stole the hearts of many.
Many important milestones were achieved at the meeting, including the ratification of the shared logo of Africa YMCAs; the launch of the S2C training manual; the launch of the one million youth march as Kenya approaches the 2012 elections; and the unveiling of a plan for a fitness and recreation centre, which will cost approximately $300 000 dollars.
The national board of Kenya YMCA took this opportunity to renew its commitment and friendship to all its partners, saying that the changing realities and ever-rising bar of mutual accountability in the world arena had left many YMCAs in Africa with no choice but to re-imagine and reinvent themselves. This was formalized by the signing of friendship and partnership agreements, symbolizing a renewed commitment to serving the community through the Kenya YMCA.