Dewsbury-based Cameroonian human rights and pro-democracy campaigner Sarli Sardou Nana has said he was extremely proud following his selection as one of only 100 people who will now benefit from leadership training provided by the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce RSA In the UK.
He said his nomination as an RSA changemaker was recognition of the community work and human rights campaigning he has done in Cameroon and in the UK.
Laureates benefit from six months training aimed at developing their leadership skills so they could be better and more rounded leaders tomorrow.
According to the RSA, the training “…equips leaders with a set of values and principles upon which they make their decisions; the intentions and desire to bring about positive change in the world around them, based on their values; and the tools and skills development they need to be leaders, such as resilience and communication… Diaspora ChangeMakers is a new project that seeks to identify and bring together the UK’s most promising individuals of African origin with a desire to support African communities in the UK and Africa.
Mr Nana’s selection follows another nomination as one of the eight winners of the Citizen Action Award of the Transparency, Access to Information and Open Governance Initiative (TAIGO) Prize in 2012.
Mbangsi Chi has been talking to Sarli Sardou Nana following his nomination
Q What was your reaction when you learnt you were among the 100 selected laureates?
I was elated! Initially I read the email twice just to try and reassure myself that I fully understand what it meant. Then it started sinking in that I am indeed among the 100. A few weeks earlier, I was informed I had made it to the shortlist of 350 which seemed extra-ordinary given that there were 1,200 or so candidates. Despite not wanting to come across as showing off about it, I still felt I needed to share the good news with friends and family which I did through social media and email. I thought if I don’t share this, it will limit the positive impact especially on those who are supporting my work in Cameroon. I was right because I have received hundreds of messages from all over the world in reaction. So my reaction is that of pride, satisfaction and feeling of encouragement concerning the work I have been doing for many years now.
Q How do you think this training will help your community work?
Being part of the Diaspora Change Makers Programme will help me enormously improve and increase my capacity to tackle the issues I am working on especially on innovation. The programme includes coaching and being part of a network of other Change Makers, an insight into how innovation works and through InnoVenture concept developed by Common Purpose, this will provide the opportunity to generate new ideas and the ones I already have, to produce social impact that will benefit not only the communities I work with but also our country Cameroon. It will also encourage others to follow in my footsteps. I dedicated my TAIGO Citizen Action Prize in 2012 to all those unsung heroes struggling in Cameroon and elsewhere. I dedicate this recognition to them as well.
Q Why are you so passionate about helping/empowering others?
I respect the Chinese proverb that it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. I think it is in my nature because I remember from when I was a child, I took strong positions against injustices and often challenged perpetrators. I hate injustice and inequality. Over several years, I was exposed to human rights advocacy and politics which gave me the skills and desire to do more. Finally I have wonderful support from various community representatives and other stakeholders which makes my work worthwhile.
Q. What are your long term goals? Any hopes of becoming politically active in your home country in future?
My preferred platform is human rights and community development that cuts across ethnic, religious and class boundaries. I will continue to build on this work. Leadership can be exercised in various forms and arenas and I will focus on where I can be most effective. I will seek to influence change as best as I can as long as I live