African Youth and The Struggle to Feel Empowered in America's Finest City

The 2nd Annual African Youth Empowerment Conference happens December 14th!

November 21, 2019

Africa is not a country, it's a continent. It's one of the things Sedrick Murhula, Youth Motivator and Community Organizer, points out when he talks about things that Americans don't often realize about Africa.

Of the 54 countries located on the continent of Africa, the various languages and cultures encompassed there are immense. Murhula is from the Congo, where there are more than 400 dialects.

"But in my country, we speak French, which is a national language everyone should know," Murhula speaks four languages.

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For African youth immigrating to America, the language barrier can be especially tricky. They may speak three or four languages, but many youth that Sedrick knows do not speak English.

"Myself, I speak four languages. Before I speak English it's transitioning through other [...> languages, so that I can speak anything," Murhula explains. This language barrier creates a hard hurdle towards integration.

And what Murhula is most concerned about is integration and empowerment, especially for African youth.

Photos from the First Annual African Youth Empowerment Conference - Photos by Famo Musa
Photos from the First Annual African Youth Empowerment Conference - Photos by Famo Musa

On December 14th Murhula, along with a network of different, local African organizations will host the second annual African Youth Empowerment Conference (AYEC) in City Heights, a neighborhood with a high concentration of African immigrants. Somali Bantu, Congo, Ghana, Rwanda and more are all represented there.

AYEC is unique because, unlike many other conferences, theirs is hosted by Africans. A conference hosted by Africans for Africans allows the community to teach integration on their own terms, embracing not just American culture, but their own, with no "outside agendas," says Murhula.

While Education, leadership, and advocacy within the African community will be the focus, the conference has also made space for non-Africans to learn about African culture.

"Africa is not the Africa that people see on TV," Murhula says. He wants to show people "The Africa everybody should be aware of," a narrative outside the impoverished one often projected in media and on social media - one with a rich history and culture to share.

Listen to our full interview with Sedrick Murhula and find more information on AYEC in City Heights on December 14th.

Living Better in San Diego, hosted by Susan DeVincent and Evonne Ermey, is heard Sunday mornings on Entercom San Diego stations and features interviews with local newsmakers, community leaders and citizens. If you have a topic or event that you would like to submit for consideration, drop us a line at livingbetter@entercom.com.