Achieve Development Through Community Engagement by Charles Akakpo

Mandela Washington Fellowship 2016 at Humphrey School for Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota

Togo my country is still lagging behind in many domains: access to quality education, health, technology, you can name it. Nevertheless, those are concerns, which, to some extent, require various kinds of investments, especially financial. In addition, my real concerns are just petty things where we also fail drastically unfortunately.

Let us take the never-ending environment issue. Pollution has become so common almost everywhere, that it ceases to be an issue. I have worked with people who, more than 20 years ago, addressed the problem of pollution at the University of Lomé, a place where intellectuals, future leaders spend most of their time. I worked with some other young students to address the same issue and took actions. My younger brothers and sisters have arrived to endure the same pollution with dumping grounds, plastic bags and any kind of garbage everywhere.


I wonder where we have put our community engagement. The response is still the same when you invite people to join you to take actions, invest our time, energy and money to advance our communities: the country is rich; some people are embezzling the riches of the nation. Therefore, I am not going to spend the little money I have got and waste my time when the government can easily solve the issue.


That is true and we all know that! However, I think it is high time we got rid of those thoughts and act. Are we really talking about the fate of people who are embezzling public funds? Definitely no! Because those wealthy people have their money to care for them in dire situations.

Do you?

We are talking about our own fate and the one of our own children. Those who do not have anything or anybody to lean on. The embezzlers have enough to protect themselves from whatever result from their not doing anything about current issues. Issues, which find their solutions in very simple and easy actions.

Americans have built the United States of American by contributing one dollar. One hour from their time to undertake some community services, mentor and coach the youngsters. That is my understanding. That is how they have built love for a nation, which unite when it comes to her own fate. Those are my solutions. Maybe if you and I start taking simple practical actions now to change our community, we will feel less angry and embittered and little by little, we will change the bad leadership of our leaders.


The Mandela Washington Fellowship, through the Executive of the Center for Integrative Leadership and its prominent figures and guests have confirmed that community engagement remains the secret of development in America. We can build a powerful and profoundly united Togo; Africa can be the United States of Africa too, but there is a starting point.