Raphael Obonyo with the Netherlands Deputy Ambassador Martine van Hoogstraten
Raphael Obonyo with the Netherlands Deputy Ambassador Martine van Hoogstraten

Nairobi, 29 October 2019—UN-Habitat staff member Raphael Obonyo has been named the 2019 Motivational African of the Year in the 2019 Voice Achievers

The annual award by the leading Netherlands magazine Voice Achievers that creates a voice for Africans around the world was presented to Mr Obonyo because of his un-paralleled contribution to the empowerment of youth and advocacy for integration of the youth population in the development plans in Kenya and beyond.

The Voice Achievers Award is one of the biggest African social events in the Central Europe, dedicated to appreciating dedication and contribution of daughters, sons and friends of Africa who through their activities have impacted positively on the lives of Africans.

Mr. Elvis Iruh, the organisation’s president presented the award at a colourful ceremony held at the National Museum in Nairobi. The award celebrates outstanding Africans who have demonstrated a commitment to social change.

 In his acceptance speech, Mr Obonyo who works as a Consultant in UN-Habitat’s Youth Unit , dedicated the award to youth in Africa. Describing himself as surprised and deeply humbled, Obonyo said he accepted the award as a call to action to do more and do better to make Africa a place where young people will be proud to call home. 

“I am accepting this honor, not as a mark of my accomplishments, nor a reward for past works, but rather as a call to action, to do more and to do better. This award has inspired me to do more, and to do better, and I hope it will inspire the youth and people out there to be the desired change. Indeed, a better Africa is possible if we take action. Let us keep motivating one another to progress” Obonyo said during his remarks

Mr Obonyo, who has founded a number of youth initiatives to improve the lives of many youth, and served on the UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board, said that he’s been privileged to represent and work with and for the youth.

“This award affirms that youth are not only a population with problems, or pose problems. But youth are the solution, and that youth have the power to solve problems in our communities, country, continent and the world” he said 

“Indeed, Africa’s greatest assets are the youth. For Africa to make progress, we must tap into the talent and energies of young people. Youth are the hope for Africa. Expect more from us. We plan to leave this continent better than we found it. We plan to make Africa home” he added

Raphael Obonyo and Ms. Winnie Byanyima, the new Executive Director, UNAIDS
Raphael Obonyo and Ms. Winnie Byanyima, the new Executive Director, UNAIDS

Mr Obonyo who grew up in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum and has initiated and led a number of youth organizations was recognized for his efforts to give youth a voice. “You are being recognized for your relentless pursuit for youth development in Africa” Voice Achievers said in a statement.

“Mr Obonyo, uniquely stands out as a selfless young person whose sheer determination has seen him beat odds in life and has been outstanding advocating for youth in matters unemployment, education, governance and development,” it added

Mr. Obonyo has initiated various youth and community development projects including Miss Koch Girls Education Initiative, Koch FM, Youth Congress and Kenya Youth Media. Notably, the Youth Congress of Kenya and Kenya Youth Media has trained many young people on entrepreneurship, film and journalism. After the training, Youth Congress have been facilitating them to access capital to start small businesses. This has realised improved living conditions and reduced poverty levels amongst the youth.

He has received a number of awards in the past, including United Nations Person of the Year, Pan Africa Humanitarian Award, Utumishi Bora Award among others.

Mr Obonyo is the founder and convener of the Youth Congress that champion’s youth leadership and development.

Also honoured with Voice Achievers awards were Uganda's Opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, Mozambique First Lady,  Isaura Nyusi, Kenya’s Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch and Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga. Rwanda’s First Lady Jeanette Kagame was the recipient of the African Heroine Award in 2017.