The new normal: Chairing international conference from Akyem Oda

The author

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity, on the recommendation of the Secretary General of the All African Students Union (AASU), Peter Kwasi Kodjie, to co-chair the African Union (AU) Committee of this year’s International Model United Nations Conference.

The Conference, “SABYA-International Model United Nations online Conference”, was hosted by South African BRICS Youth Association (SABYA).

The Conference simulated six diversified committees, namely, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), International Labour Organisation (ILO), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the African Union (AU).

In the awake of the global pandemic of COVID-19 and subsequent hydra-headed challenges, including the changing landscape in doing business and sustaining day-to-day livelihood, the conference was put together to come up with resolutions that can assist policy makers, labour market and the world economy in operating during and after COVID-19.

The conference had Deputy Minister of Communication and Digital Technologies of South Africa, Pinky Kekana, as the key note speaker for the opening ceremony which took place on Friday May 29.

Ms Kekana urged the youth to use available opportunities encouraging them to create the opportunities themselves even if none seemed available.

“You must use opportunities; and if you can’t find any opportunity, then create it and take others along. The youth is not the future generation, the youth is the now generation,” she said.


Other speakers for the Opening Ceremony were: Secretary-General of International Model United Nations (IMUN), Fawad Ali Langah, from Pakistan and National Spokeperson of Indian Youth Congress.


The rest are Gautam Seth; a representative of the AU Youth Envoy, Nair Abakar, from Chad and an EXCO Member of All African Students Union (AASU) from Southern Africa, representing the Secretary General of AASU, Nauyoma Dimbulukeni from Namibia.


Various committees came up with resolutions which IMUM will make available to relevant stakeholders for action.

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Borderless countries

The Conference had delegates, ‘invited guests’, ministers of states, among other dignitaries from every part of the world attending. Interestingly, this hugely successful conference did not have any of its dignified participants coming with a passport, yellow fever vaccination card, visa, hotel bills, nothing.

Numbering close to 100 people from various parts of the world, each participated right from their own houses or offices.

Ghanaian theologians, philanthropists, motivational speakers, entrepreneurs and founder of International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Dr Mensa Otabil, a prominent African theologian and minister of the gospel, stated that the world will never be the same after the novel coronavirus pandemic has been defeated.

Until the coming into the world of the uninvited COVID-19 guest, technology had existed and conferences had been held online. However, the COVID-19 era has opened new vistas of opportunity to the world in terms of communication without huge costs, giving true meaning to the media and communication theorist, Marshall McLuhan’s “global village” .

The world is now on Zoom, google meet, facebook, whatsapp, twitter, instagram, among others communication platforms. Our world is now a small village without boundaries. You do not need a visa to attend a conference in South Africa or Equatorial Guinea now.

When Marshal McLuhan coined the term ‘global village’ in 1964 to describe the phenomenon of the world’s culture shrinking and expanding at the same time due to pervasive technological advances that allow for instantaneous sharing of culture, he probably did not anticipate that such will become more germane at a time when a global pandemic would afflict the world and make nonsense of other self-imposed terminologies such as ‘world super powers’ that have been used to ‘bully’ so called ‘third world countries’.

From Akyem Oda

“Honorable Delegates,

Welcome to the 2020 Model United Nations Conference … We are thrilled to be directing the African Union at the Conference. While much of the world criticizes the African Union (AU) for its inability to engage in rapid testing during this pandemic, we strongly believe that regional bodies, such as the AU, can provide the solution to these global and local problems. African countries are at a turning point in their histories during this pandemic. Ironically, they are also on the cusp of making genuine political process.

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It is other African countries that can help their neighbors achieve this new sense of development. We – Julius Iyere, Chiemela Samuel and Nana Kwasi Asuman-Frimpong – are delighted to serve you as Chairs of the African Union in the upcoming conference and we are sure this will be a time well spent, with plenty of experience to share.”

These were the opening remarks of the three Chairmen of the AU committee.

Leading delegates from almost every part of Africa from my small room in a small community at the Eastern part of Ghana, Akyem Oda, together with my colleagues and using Zoom and whatsapp, we were able to manage a successful committee.

Since March, when the president placed ban on public gathering and closed down schools, forcing me to leave campus (University of Ghana) to the house, I have been working from home.

I have been writing stories, granting interviews, editing content, proofreading and approving designed pages all from the house. Using various social media platforms, I have been able to have a harmonized and conducive working environment with my colleagues and bosses, getting the job done without hitches – all from the house.

The new world and Africa

Like it or not, this is the new world that the world now finds itself in. We now live in a single country without borders. This new world has come to stay. It is now time for Africa to fit into this. As President Nana Akufo-Addo keeps saying, the pandemic has exposed many of the lapses the world, Africa and Ghana have. It is for us to be ready to fix them and fit in.

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The new world has its own challenges. Telecommunication companies can frustrate the hell out of you. The world is now moving to 5G, while many of our localities are still struggling 3G.

Africa cannot and should not be going back cap-in-hand looking for support from other parts of the world post-COVID-19. We were able to shut our borders to the world. We were able to deport nationals of super power countries during the pandemic. The pandemic has given us the chance to know that our survival is not dependent on anybody. We can do our own things. Kwame Nkrumah was right when he said the Black man is capable of managing his own affairs.

African leaders and Africans must develop our own technology that suits our context. Many innovations have come from Africa since the pandemic broke, we have a duty to make use of these innovations.

The new normal is that, huge conferences without thousands in attendance can still be held, no need wasting time and money travelling always for conferences. The new normal is that the office space is just a building which is not needed to get the job done. The new normal is that you don’t need to be at the hospital to get medical care, as has been demonstrated by the Ghanaian made virtual hospital, Hewale. You don’t need to be in the physical classroom to get education. The new normal is that there are no boundaries in the world now.

Let us get this truth and get it all done.





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