Democracy is multidimensional. It is political, economic, cultural and social. It is an institutionalized process of government of citizens by and for themselves. This process is governed by laws and animated by practices. In ancient Africa, one of these practices was the palaver. Thanks to this institution, decisions were monitored and citizens’ choices were made public. Values were confronted through open debate. Rights and obligations within and between generations were reaffirmed. Competition and transparency were negotiated, while countervailing powers could express themselves and be heard.
In an age of misinformation and fake news, Citizen Conversations will strive to update the ancient practice of palaver. These public, interactive sessions will bring together young people from rural and outlying areas, as well as the educated youth of Africa’s cities and major metropolises, who are connected to the world through digital technologies. They give a voice to those who are rarely heard and who, although in the majority demographically, are in the minority politically. They will help combat the isolation that keeps young people away from the public expression of ideas and opinions.