YALI 2018: Make-ups On My Sleeves, Tears in my Eyes, a New Africa on my Mind



For the last moments at the fellowship, when participants said their last goodbyes, tears welled up in my eyes until they had no more rooms. A rollercoaster of emotions ran through our hearts and swelled them with a sea of tears. At this juncture, each moment spent with another was expensive because it was short-lived. 


Phones kept levitating into mid air, and for each time, people would bunch up in what ended as dozens of selfies for a memorable day. Women threw themselves into the arms of men, men wrapped their arms around as many shoulders as they could, hugging their last. The sleeves of my shirt had eaten of brown powder from the faces of many women. A glimpse at it was both saddening and hilarious. These are strangers who have now turned family; too attached to let go. 


We have had over a 100 lessons on how to bring people together, and not even one lesson on how to go on living without them.

It wasn’t the melancholy of not seeing most of them again but the challenge each of them had thrown me. Smart, passionate trailblazers raising the bar every now and then. 



At the end of this leadership training, we’re refined, but we’re chained, we’re enslaved, we’re given no freedom, no life choices; only the chance to break records. It’s unbargainable.

Like children at the dinner table, we’re told to be seen not heard… to be seen making  exploits… exploits that will reflect very highly on our countries and the continent Africa. 

Tags hang around our necks all day, all night. They were metaphorically to give us a constant reminder of who we were, where we came from and the charge we had to keep.

We wore them with pride. In the air, on the sea, in the forest.



The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is a flagship program of the American government, an investment into a spirited group of budding leaders to redefine the narratives of the next African generation. Bringing together change makers from around the continent to deliberate on shared pertinent issues, it is unarguable that this is the best thing to have happened to Africa.



The logic of this program is capitalist, it’s also like a robbery.  What you take in one operation is to finance another robbery, and so it gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. We’re the candles that will be sent out to light more candles and wood. The ripple effect of this gathering will be widespreadly glamourous in the future


Like the rainbow is the pride of heaven, these empowered youngsters will shine and reflect everlasting light on the now catastrophe-ladden land of the black.


How do I know? Everyone here someway, somehow carries a God-complex — like they can do all things. And it’s endlessly fascinating how they prove it in their words and actions.

Like the stars we will shine again. We will cry but we’ll smile again. Africa will rise again!”




So the hearbeaking moments of seeing friends depart will not crush us like a drunken stupor. There’s a lot more work ahead. It’s a bunch of tomorows and very few yesterdays.

This fellowship was, for each person a major sprint for life — for  our countries, for the world. It is perfect in many ways… like a  Cameroonian woman with contours to die for. 


For me as an energised beneficiary, all I need is to have the make-ups washed off my shirt and I’m ready to do exploits! 


And oh… Mamaaaa we won an awaaaaard!


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19 Responses

  1. It was an experience compared to none. I'm so honored to have met a gd n kind hearted guy in Ghana like u Patrick.

    With tears still in my eyes. I miss u hope we set the pace we want Africa to be in the next 20 years.
    We cohort 9 shall make the difference

  2. Kudos Patrick.
    May the fire on your candle light mine ☺

  3. Patrick Fynn says:

    Tembeng, it was a great moment with you. Thanks so much dear. You should start saving to host me in Cameroon.

  4. Patrick Fynn says:

    Say no more, brother. We rise together.

  5. Great one there Patrick.
    We will surely make the difference even though the challenge seems unsurmountable.

  6. Rockline Kwakye says:

    Well done Patrick, you are such a multi-talented person!

  7. yaa delphi says:

    May you have the strength to carry on.

  8. yaa delphi says:

    May you have the strength to carry on.

  9. Unknown says:

    A new changing in my life.
    Thanks very much patrick

  10. Patrick Fynn says:

    Amen! God bless you Yaa

  11. Great read…….except you cut me out of my own selfie��

  12. Patrick Fynn says:

    Photo replaced. Have your eyes died now?😅

  13. Fatima Dibba says:

    Great piece Patrick, YALI was a priceless experience. I can't wait to work alongside all you wonderful people. I miss you!

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