In preparation for Ghana’s general elections later this year, the Arrupe Jesuit Institute (AJI), a Catholic social justice center of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), is set to spearhead a youth dialogue initiative titled “Conversations That Matter” (CTM).
CTM, an innovative platform aimed at fostering dialogue among young people on critical life issues, transcends religious, political, and cultural affiliations.
Designed to empower the vibrant demographic of young adults aged 18 to 30, the initiative underscores the AJI’s commitment to addressing the needs of Ghana and Africa’s youthful population.
“Recognizing the formative nature of these years in the lives of young people, this initiative seeks to empower youth through focused discourse, careful analysis, and respectful dialogue,” Director of AJI, Rev. Fr. Kpanie Addy, SJ told Vatican News Africa.
“Our aim with CTM is to provide the youthful population in Ghana and across Africa with the space, skills, and resources for critical thinking and robust intellectual engagement on a wide range of issues,” Fr. Addy added.
With Ghana’s upcoming general elections serving as a pertinent backdrop, Fr Addy said CTM endeavors to nurture the capacity of young people to engage with core virtues, values, and principles.
In its inaugural year, the initiative will convene in-person dialogues at least four times, commencing in Accra in February before expanding to other cities across Ghana, including Sunyani, Takoradi, Tamale, and Ho.
Jesuit priest from Rwanda, Rev. Fr Jean Damascene Bavugayabo, S.J., is expected to lead two conversations in Accra on the topic: “Young People as Agents of Dialogue and not Destruction: Lessons from Rwanda”.
The general elections in the West African nation come December, will usher in a new leader as President Nana Akufo-Addo steps down after completing his constitutionally limited second term in office. This will mark Ghana’s fifth presidential succession since the return to democratic multiparty politics in 1992, augmenting Ghana’s reputation for having institutionalized predictable and rules-based presidential transitions.
Given the tightness of recent elections and the parity in Parliament—with each party fielding 137 representatives—this election is also expected to be highly competitive. The outcomes of Ghana’s 50-percent-plus-one two-round elections have largely been accepted by the Ghanaian electorate due to the leadership shown by the rival candidates and trust in the fairness of Ghana’s institutions.
Ghana’s democracy benefits from a vigilant and well-organized civil society. Civil society actors have been at the forefront of electoral reforms, expanding citizen participation, and enhancing trust in the process. This includes hosting televised debates between presidential candidates aimed at educating voters about the respective contenders’ positions on substantive policy issues facing the country.