Herbert Mensah: Rugby as a driving force of positive change in Africa


Today, Sunday, December 10, marks Human Rights Day.

Herbert Mensah, the President of Rugby Africa, the continental governing body of rugby in Africa, believes it is crucial to reflect on whether the body, as a collective, cultivated environment, promotes the fundamental rights for future generations regardless of gender, religion, race or any other factor.

Mensah states the following to mark the Human Rights Day;

“According to the United Nations, Africa is anticipated to account for 40% of the global population by 2100, signifying nearly half of the world’s youth will be African. Given this statistic, I consider it is essential to instill values within the youth in Africa, laying a foundation for a more equitable and just society.

Today, as we reflect on our collective efforts, let us recognize the positive impact of rugby, with its core values in championing equality, inclusivity, and empowering the youth in Africa.

With its core values of solidarity, respect, integrity, passion, and discipline, rugby fosters an environment that safeguards the rights of all individuals and effortlessly align with the principles of human rights.

Solidarity in teamwork creates a collaborative atmosphere where diversity is embraced, and individuals work together towards a common goal.

Respect, a cornerstone of rugby, forms a barrier against discrimination, where players honor each other’s differences. Integrity ensures that individuals are governed by ethical and moral standards, preventing any attempts to compromise the rights of others.

Passion becomes a driving force for equality off the field. Discipline cultivates a commitment to upholding an intolerance for any infringement upon the rights of all individuals.

These values act as foundation for a culture where human rights are not only respected but actively protected.

Rugby serves as a dynamic platform where individuals of all genders, backgrounds and sizes can unite. The sport challenges stereotypes and breaks down barriers, creating an environment where a woman can thrive on the same field as a man, learning the same set of values and igniting the same passion.

These shared values highlight a sense of belonging within a community that transcends societal boundaries. Through equal opportunities, rugby dismantles gender biases offering a model for inclusivity.

Through the teaching of the core values of rugby and personal experiences on the field, individuals develop a sense of empathy and understanding for one another, laying foundation for a society that respects and upholds the fundamental rights of all humans.

Forging a future where the basic rights of all individuals are protected with a strong intolerance against discrimination begins with an investment in empowering the youth in Africa. Utilizing rugby as a tool to empower the youth, will create positive change for decades to come. The sport becomes a training ground for the youth to internalize fundamental human rights principles, equipping the youth with life skills essential for navigating this challenging world.

As empowered youth grow into adults, they are better positioned to contribute positively to their communities. Through the empowerment of the youth, we are cultivating a generation that is attuned to the principles of equality, dignity, and justice.

Rugby’s impact extends beyond the field, contributing to a broader cultural shift towards the recognition and protection of human rights on a global scale. As the President of Rugby Africa, I believe it is a collective responsibility for stakeholders and leaders to continue to utilize sports as a force for positive change.

As we commemorate Human Rights Day, let us acknowledge the need to invest in the values of rugby, reaffirming our commitment to organizations that champion the values of inclusivity and unity for future generations.

Beyond the joy of the sport, rugby has the power to foster a culture of respect and dignity where the next generation is empowered to question ingrained biases, stereotypes, and discriminatory practices.

Human Rights Day must serve as a reminder that when the fundamental rights of humans are neglected, we are collectively all at great risk. Together, let us unite behind the vision of a world where the rights of every individual are safeguarded, with rugby as one of the driving forces of positive change.”

By Herbert Mensah

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