Speaking the Truth to Power

13/11/2012 17:26 GMT | Updated 12/01/2013 10:12 GMT

This weekend I was in Dakar (Senegal) to meet Mary Robinson and Angelique Kidjo. Kidjo is the most famous diva of Africa who has performed with global top artists like Alicia Keys, Carlos Santana and Peter Gabriel and who travels the world tirelessly to confront leaders with the truth on women. Too many leaders are not acting against female trafficking, female genital mutilation and rape or young girls being married out. Robinson is the former Irish president, former UN High Commissioner on human rights and active member of Nelson Mandela's peace organization The Elders. These two powerful women agreed to support MasterPeace, because during wars women often get abused severely.

We met each other at a conference of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which annually produces the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. In all 52 African countries they continuously research human development (health, welfare, education), economic opportunities, human rights (including gender equality) and safety. And the winner is... Mauritius. Somalia was number 52 for the fifth year in a row.

The data are a mirror for all African governments and with this data artists like Angelique Kidjo, civil society, The Elders but also youth-led organizations like MasterPeace can push for improvements. And those are highly needed to prevent new outbursts of violence. Mo Ibrahim gave his audience an interesting warning: "Literacy in Tunisia is almost 100%. It's amazing - no country in the region or even in Asia can match Tunisia in education. But hundreds of thousands of men and women who graduated from college cannot find work, and not only that but they look around and see an oppressive, corrupt regime. Then you have a volatile mix."

Desmond Tutu, another ambassador of MasterPeace, was the star of the conference last weekend. Philanthropist Ibrahim honored him with a special prize and donated one million US Dollars for Tutu's work, especially to improve the position of young people in African countries as well as for the fact that Tutu is never afraid to confront authorities with the bare truth. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: "Young people really are dreamers. They dream of a better world. They dream that we can make poverty history. They were at the forefront of the Arab Spring. They are affected by the cynicism of 'oldies' like us. Go ahead and dream. You young people are our hope."

With great passion Tutu spoke about the power of keeping dreams alive, to an audience with many scientists and data researchers. Later that day Angelique Kidjo and Mary Robinson sang 'Imagine' to promote MasterPeace. "You can say I am dreamer, but I am not the only one."

With new facts we can fuel our dreams. It felt like a powerful step forward.