Alfred Edakasi: OUR AYLF STORY
Who is Mr Alfred Edakasi?
Alfred Edakasi describes himself as a family man, who derives satisfaction from being around family. Coming from a background of an incomplete family, he narrates that he did not always identify with the concept of family. However, at the age of 15, he drew a clear picture of what a family should look like and determined to achieve that goal in his life. Having spent most of his life around young people, he states that investing his life in young people is what he is truly passionate about and has purposed to achieve this firstly through business, political work and any other opportunities he is accorded to replicate his life in the lives of young people. He adds that his focus is on the region of Africa.
Knowing that he had played a key role in the conception of AYLF, I tasked him on sharing where his journey with AYLF begun?
He stanly clarifies that AYLF is a collaborative effort that has been built by several key people in the Cornerstone community. When he moved into Cornerstone in 2007, they were looking for ways of influencing university students. They had been involved with their own alumni, the graduates of the Cornerstone Leadership Academies at the University, but they were looking for a fresh group of young people with whom they could share leadership values influenced by Jesus. He states that the older generations of the Cornerstone Leadership academy and the connections of Cornerstone to the Prayer Breakfast Movement had also realized that there was lack of a space for older leaders to mentor and learn from young leaders. Realizing that these student leaders were the next business men or politicians they knew it was a great opportunity to positively influence the future leadership. With all this in mind, University student leaders were chosen as a focal group to invest in due to the influence they had at that time but also their foreseen influence in the future.
Together with Allan Shepherd, Alfred narrates how they started the Outreach Programme first to Makerere University in the form of a small group, he states how they sometimes even had to go out to meet student leaders in their halls to interest them in the idea. ‘We went there religiously, and saw the group move through many levels of growth.’ he says. They shared about leadership and its challenges. Initially they were the ones who shared and students would come attend the meeting, eat and go. However as time went on, the students began to talk to each other, the conversations started flowing because there were no right answers, no wrong questions, everybody was able to ask and engage freely. After penetrating Makerere University, they started to look outside Uganda asking themselves how they could be influential in other leading Universities eventually the idea of Africa became a key idea. AYLF small groups were then also pegged to the National Prayer Breakfast Movement with an intention of giving student leaders better access to their senior leadership.
In dealing with student leaders Alfred further adds that as AYLF, they sought to curb the issue of conflicts and disunity in Africa and thus tailored a Programme around resolving religious and tribal conflicts which constitute the biggest problems for leaders in Africa. He says that leaders tend to make decisions based on their ethnicity or religion, hence the focus being pulled towards unity and reconciliation. Further still, they wanted AYLF to embody the values Jesus brings into the world that transcend religion, ethnicity, they envisioned AYLF leaders reflecting a mode of life where Jesus was the role model. Alfred also emphasizes that AYLF was not built on organizational structures but around the relations people built together, first from Jesus as a person then as people hence the small groups that he knows allow personal interactions with individuals focusing on small but meaningful personal relations
Regarding the impact AYLF has had on his life
Alfred passionately describes how AYLF has given him a bigger platform to work with young people. Being a prominent speaker in AYLF Circles, he has interacted with different kinds of young people; learning a lot from them. He adds that young people are very dynamic and have continuously challenged him to be open minded and learn. He explains from his experience saying, as young people, learn they start to lead not only in activities but also in ideas, teaching him as a leader that there are times to lead but also times to follow.
Asked what his most memorable moments being part of the AYLF movement are?
Alfred explains that his interactions with AYLF as a speaker have not really added energy to him as a person. Instead, his most memorable moments have been the times he deeply related with young people. He states that he holds dear those moments where students joined AYLF with struggles, but they were able to overcome them together and grow. He adds that it is that growth that gives him satisfaction and the morale to keep working knowing that those former student leaders will be influential people who will do much more than he has had the time to do.
Asked what he thinks AYLF will look like in the next two decades
Alfred foresees that there will be AYLF small groups at every university in Africa, and the more universities are born, the bigger the movement will grow. As AYLF continues to transcend University borders traveling through the hearts of young leaders, Alfred is confident that work place motivations will positively change and purposeful ethics will be practiced because the AYLF leaders in different spheres will have been enlightened by Jesus’ scriptures. He argues that through us reaching out to Jesus, we begin to love like him, heal like him, reconcile like him putting away our differences as people and walking together. Above all, he envisions Africa will have a new breed of leaders thinking from a new creed that revolves around the values and precepts of Jesus as young people taking influence in their places of responsibility. He adds that if our student leaders in the university are grounded, we will have majority of the leaders in the continent being AYLF leaders and Africa will be a good place to live in.
Alfred Edakasi is a family man, business man and a politician but most importantly a leader. He has been key in the growth and progress of AYLF as a movement. Alfred, we appreciate all your contributions in building the current and future leaders of our continent Africa.