“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, and then it turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta
Being an activist has granted me opportunity to travel in various exchange youth programs, and it has allowed me to live amazing experiences with people from different regions of the world.
Last May, I met an inspiring Libyan man while in Spain during the opening of the MENA Leadership Academy program, an initiative by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Foundation. What caught my attention was his calm behaviour, tone on igniting collaborative movements and his command of the queen’s language, which at times leaned towards the queen’s accent. His name is Mahmoud Abugrin, a 22-year-old accounting student, youth activist, radio broadcaster and a freelance teacher who lives in Tripoli, Libya’s capital.
Notably, whenever we mention Libya, our interests are sparked by the political environment in that part of Northern Africa. A country that is still struggling since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011 to stabilize its socio-political environment, spoiled by the division into many parties and threatened by the enlargement of ISIS groups in certain areas. In a time where the global leaders are aiming for sustainable development, people in Libya are yearning for peace and security. In an era where banks and billionaires are emerging, workers in Libya are hoping to obtain financial parity during a tough economic crisis.
Yet there are those who withstand the harsh environments brought during the Arab springs, which is the case with Mahmoud, creating opportunities for himself and his community without the expectation of a hand-out from elsewhere.
Mahmoud has a radio show at a local radio station in Tripoli, in which he and his co-hosts discuss topical issues to raise awareness such as, practical education, feminism, youth, and social media. A youth activist and a student, he recently achieved his bachelor degree in Accounting with honours less than 3 months ago, and he is now aiming to gain his Master’s degree in Marketing as soon as possible.
Additionally, Mahmoud was the President of the founding committee of the Student Council in his Faculty. And he successfully led his committee into democratic elections and a peaceful transitional of the Student Council to the new elects.
As a youth Activist, he envisions a youth led society that focuses on education and entrepreneurship, which is why he has been advocating in the civil society scene since he was 18 years old. He has been part of countless campaigns, projects and movements, so much so that he was a board member in three different NGOs and a Co-Founder of two more. Not to mention that he still volunteers with other different NGOs and offers a helping hand whenever they are in need.
Concerning the future of his country, Mahmoud has a very distinct point of view, he is inspired by the quote of Joseph Harris, also known as TI, saying “Every obstacle makes the impossible possible, even when winning is illogical, losing is still far from optional.” and that is why Mahmoud believes that whatever the difficulties his country is facing, there is always a way into the solutions.
He also says “I hope that the people of Libya can just leave behind their differences and look at each other a little bit differently, to look at each other with a little empathy so that we can connect on a different level and unite under a common goal which is to see our country develop and exceed all expectations whether it was economically, socially, or politically. It all starts with ourselves.” Continuing with his favourite quote regarding this topic is Jay Shetty’s saying “Failures are only failures when we don’t learn from them, because when we learn from them, they become lessons” He also added “My plan is to simply be better than the person that I was yesterday and to look back at my past 10 or 20 years from now with the least amount of regrets as possible.”
Mahmoud teaches us that mindset is important. And we can learn that change in Africa will come from individuals with higher perspectives regarding their reality whatever how bad it is. These individuals will spread their knowledge with communities to inspire them and cultivate a mindset of living beyond the comfort zone aiming for the better of humanity.
The more we position our thinking towards issues of significance, the better results we can have in the future given the fact that we are following a positive approach of observing what is happening in our continent. Hopefully, in few years we will look back onto this article and see how things have developed and how many new leaders have emerged in Libya. And so together, we will keep on writing about enlightened minds and seek to enlighten other minds in Africa.