Name: Feyi Ogunade
What do you do?
Feyi is a journalist, human rights lawyer and lecturer of law and international relations. He is Chief Executive and Co-Founder of AU Watch – an African international development and human rights organisation.
Why did you start doing it?
“There is this one thing that I never ever want to know, and that is knowing how to give up on a true purpose. If it is necessary to rest, rest! But don’t forever be at rest and don’t ever give up on the rest of the unfinished task!” Ernest AgyemangYeboah
We (Africans) have many unfinished tasks for our great continent. I am of the view that individually there is a ‘reason’ for all us to be on this planet earth. For Feyi it is that unquenchable fire of social injustice, poverty and hopelessness’ in the underside of my stomach born that keeps me awake day in and day out. You will not be wrong if you described me as ‘angry’. Yes I am ‘angry’ at the ‘senseless contradiction’ of a continent rich in everything, but mired in poverty, corruption, helplessness and hopelessness. I suppose it’s that culprit called ‘social injustice’ that have been allowed to bring an arm chair and sit at the doorsteps of so many families, especially in Africa. Together, we need to take our ‘African broom’ and sweep away that cankerworm that is eating at the fabric of our societies. All of us need to do ‘something,’ no matter how small. We all have greatness inside us. A wise man once said: “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
What motivates you to serve the community?
“The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein
In my formative years, I used to believe that political systems might make a difference to the lives of our communities in Africa. In collaboration with many other like-minded individuals, we campaigned for the overthrow of the one-party state that was the norm in Africa during the sixties, seventies and eighties. Where are we now? African is Janus-faced. While there have been improvements in many areas, many states have retrogressed in the last three decades. The promise of independence has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many of our compatriots. Our African states showed that the dominant socio-ethnic configurations simply captured and maintained the post-colonial state, perpetuating it by appropriating the resources of the country, personalising state authority and using it as an agency for dominating and exploiting minority ethnic and social groups. Many African states ‘democratized’, but the vast majority of Africans are still mired in poverty, corruption and hopelessness. Our communities deserve more than the blunt end of the stick we are getting from our political class. I want to spend the rest of my days informing our communities, and especially young people that to move Africa, we must getting moving ourselves, with or without or political class. They aren’t coming to our aid anyway. The respected Dalai Lama once said: It is not enough to be compassionate – you must act.”All of us should act to see the Africa we want.
You do a lot of community projects why?
I have seen more demonstrations and strikes in my first two years. I don’t think it can get worse. It is said that when you kill a goat and frighten it with a knife, it doesn’t fear the knife because it is dead already.” President John Mahama
We must reject the callousness and ‘I don’t ‘carism’ from our political class. I make the argument – a counter normative, policy and theoretical argument that suggest that the new sovereignty rests with individuals and groups. If the ‘state’ is an amalgam of individuals and groups, and the juridical entity of the state has as its social function that of ensuring that its people live without fear, then sovereignty rests with the individual or the people. They may turn over their sovereignty to the juridical entity as a condition for protection and to enable the state to carry on its administrative and other functions. But this is only a loan held in trust, which can be called in when it is abused by the state. Now I am leading a new campaign to ‘take back Africa’, including the AU from our political leaders and policy chiefs. I suppose one way is through community engagement.
Who is Dr Feyi Ogunade?
Dr Feyi Ogunade was previously a Senior Lawyer at the African Union leading work on the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa. In his 30 years as a (motivational) speaker, journalist, human rights activist, political commentator, international lawyer, university lecturer, fundraiser, and consultant, Feyi has taken CSOs of all sizes to new heights – and earned an international reputation for excellence in the process. Feyi serves on several company boards and advisory committees for non-profit organizations, and is actively involved in numerous development initiatives across Africa.
What empowers and motivates Dr Feyi Ogunade?
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
What motivates Feyi?: Social injustice. Marian Wright Edelman once said “If you don’t like the way the world is; you change it! You just do it one step at a time.” So with our friends in Africa and around the world, we can be the change we want to see in Africa or in our communities.
What and who empowers Feyi?: The ordinary people I work with in Africa or the (black) African community around the world.
Why do you support and invest in ThinkTank720? (this will be the event)
Don’t know much about it, so cannot say much.
Who are your mentors?
My parents, especially my Dad who spent his entire life resisting injustice. I must also add that Nelson Mandela had a considerable influence in the way I currently think and act.
Any advice for young people?
I will answer that question with a quote from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
In many of the talks I give, I have always said to young people, no matter how hard the battle gets or no matter how many people DON’T believe in your dream, Never Ever give up, because one day your life will flash before your eyes. You’ve got to make sure it’s worth watching.