Central African : Cédric Ouanekponé, laureate of the world prize of the Humanism of the youth 2019.

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Born in the night of March 8th(International women day), 1986 in the third district of Bangui, from a teaching father and a housewife mother.

Like all children of his age from modest backgrounds, Cédric grew up and played near the Kokoro waterway that runs along the largest market in Bangui, PK5 market considered as the economic heart of the capital of Central Africa where lived peacefully all communities including Christians and Muslims. After the kindergarten at the school of the Sisters of Our Lady of the Chartres, he attended the school Fatima mixed boy 1.

Very brilliant, he had to successfully pass his primary school certificate (CEPE) a year before his colleagues as a free candidate despite two years off that upset the academic cycle.Very active in the Catholic action of children from the age of 12, he will be involved in the birth of the “Ambassadors of Peace” program which allowed children to travel across the country to make adults aware of peace.

However, he will not remain in this program, because in the year 2000 he will be admitted to the minor seminary “Infant Jesus” of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers in Bouar (RCA) where he will spend three intense years of study, human formation and spiritual . His taste for science will push him to leave the seminary after his brevet des collèges in 2003 for the School Complex of the Protestant Center for Youth where he will succeed brilliantly in his scientific baccalaureate which opens the doors of medicine after his success at the very selective entrance examination.

Already in 2004 while still in high school, Cédric joined the RFI Club Bangui Fononon, an association of young listeners of Radio France Internationale who promotes the youth and culture of which he becomes president of the antenna of his school then the young secretary-general and the president of the national coordination. Under his presidency, the Club RFI Bangui Fononon has seen the emergence of many young leaders because for Cédric this club will have to be a laboratory of human formation and leadership for young Central Africans. When he announced his withdrawal from the presidency of the club in 2015, the vast majority of members urged him to stay but he replied: “A candle lasts forever if it is used to light another.”

As he finally prepared to finish his medical studies, the worst military-political crisis in the history of the Central African Republic broke out with an interconfessional turn that made thousands of IDPs, refugees and deaths. He is himself displaced on the IDP site in Bimbo Carmel where he will transform the priest’s refectory into a makeshift delivery room that will see the birth of some fifty children, some of whom was named after him as sign of recognition from the parents. It will travel the sites of displaced people still inaccessible to NGOs in the most critical moments of the crisis to give care and sometimes deliver women in tents just with a pair of gloves, a razor blade and hair threads (as evidenced by the picture)

In this same context, he accompanied the NGO International Cercle National de Réflexion sur la Jeunesse to give care to the displaced people of the parish of Notre Dame de Fatima as well as to the Ali BABORO mosque in 2014 when the insecurity was at its worst. these areas. He will often retrace his footsteps on the sites of the displaced where he volunteers with his friends the art therapy sessions with children to help them heal the stigma and trauma of war, not hesitating to play the skit theatrical plays if necessary for the great pleasure of children.

From the beginning of the war, he launched an online platform called “Save the Central African Republic from Chaos” with his friend Baba Mahamat high school, to raise awareness of peace and disarm hearts with the strong conviction that the crisis in the Central African Republic is not confessional. A member of the youth coordination unit of his parish, Cédric works with his coordination in times of crisis in his country by setting up listening groups to combat rumors and divert young people from manipulation and violence. As such, they will organize fora and human formations for young people who have decided themselves to make a film, “La Colombe”, with derisory means  to raise awareness of peace and to live together between the different communities .

This film, directed by Cédric, will be shown in several IDP sites and in CAR cities, followed by debates. He will launch with his friends the concept of “Kernels of Peace” which are inclusive community structures aimed at disarming hearts and daring peace in the various districts of Bangui and some cities in CAR. He was on all fronts

His engagements in social and youth will be rewarded with a month internship in South Korea, offered by the Archdiocese of Bangui in 2015 and especially his selection in the prestigious program YALI (Young African Leadership Initiative) allowing him to participate in exchange programs in Kenya (Kenyatta University), Rwanda (connect camp by Ohio University) and the United States (Indiana University). After these international exchange programs, he has locally implemented the knowledge acquired by strengthening the capacities of the young people of his country through the Association of YALI Program nationals, of which he is one of the great craftsmen. In 2017, they completed the first-ever national youth empowerment camp that saw the effective participation of young people from all 16 prefectures of CAR, the first of its kind in the country.

Moreover, after his brilliant defense of doctoral thesis in medicine in 2015 he was integrated into the public service in 2017 with for first post the city of Ndélé (stronghold of the rebels of Séléka), a city whose central state has no control.

Notwithstanding the refusal of his relatives and their multiple attempts at deterrence, the new chief doctor of Ndélé took his job. For a few months, he seduced this city by his work and his attachment to youth. So, when Dr. Cédric is not at the hospital, he is found at the English club, the first of its kind, which he created in this city with new didactic methods mixing dances, songs and debates. This adventure in “dangerous zone” will not last long because the University Cheik Anta Diop of Dakar will notify him his admission in medical specialization in Nephrology.

Cedric Ouanekpone (Left ) with Frederic Fappani von Lothringen ( Right ) in Bangui. ( NGO CNRJ – 2014 april )

A choice that will surprise more than one because Dr. Cédric will give up his traditional dream of cardiology for nephrology but for those who know him well, they are not surprised because he refused to accept that the CAR is almost the only country in the world where there is not a single dialysis center when the needs are immense. As he likes to say, “My big fault is that I like challenges a lot,” he has made nephrology in particular and access to quality care in general one of his great challenges.

In Bangui and especially in Fatima where he lives, Cédric has positively influenced many young people who identify with him and who have chosen him as a mentor. When asked why you do not quit Fatima when weapons are crackling all the time?

He responds as always with a smile: “A leader, a real man never flees. My place is with young people to help them multiply acts of good as long as the enemies of peace continue to excel in evil. After all, I am no better than the thousands of Central Africans who have fallen innocently into this crisis and if I have to fall one of these days, it must be for good, peace “.

Cédric Ouanekponé is a young person who comes a  modest backgrounds in Bangui, the capital of a country lost in the heart of Africa.

Finally, he receives the World Prize for Humanism Youth 2019.

 

 

 

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