At 26 years old, Tijani Christian from Waterhouse in Kingston can boast of meeting Queen Elizabeth II on two occasions as head of the Commonwealth Youth Council.
He was also given the awesome responsibility of officially presenting the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, at a July reception held in the Duke’s honour as the Queen’s Commonwealth Youth Ambassador.
The opportunity presented itself when Tijani Christian, who was elected to chair the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) in his first official capacity, attended a reception on July 5 at the Commonwealth Secretariat at Marlborough House in London, England, to welcome the Prince in his new role.
Tijani Christian became the first Caribbean national to chair the CYC. He was elected in April 2018 during the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF), which was organised as part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in London, England.
The CYF aims to promote cross-cultural connections and to achieve consensus among youth leaders on the policies required to address the challenges and opportunities facing young people.
In his capacity as chairperson of the CYC, Tijani Christian will liaise with Prince Harry to strategically advance the role of young people, according to Article 13 of the Commonwealth Charter, which speaks to the important role youth play in the development of countries within the Commonwealth.
The CYC, which is led by a nine-member Executive, acts as a coalition of national youth councils and other youth-led civil society and private-sector bodies from across member countries of the Commonwealth.
The Council aims to further advance the youth development agenda by integrating young people into the development work of the Commonwealth at national, regional and Pan-Commonwealth levels. It also provides a sustainable platform for unified engagement with decision-makers and youth-led development initiatives.
In an interview with JIS News, Mr. Christian says he is humbled by this important position that was bestowed on him, and vows to ensure that voices of the Commonwealth youth are represented and heard at the highest level.
He will represent more than 1.2 billion youth from 53 member states of the Commonwealth.
“I will be working very closely with Prince Harry to make sure that the voices of the young people are heard and strengthened throughout the decision-making process. He will be taking the issues and concerns to the highest level. Therefore, he will be the eyes and ears of the Monarchy, relating what is happening with the young people of the Commonwealth,” Tijani Christian says.
The CYC works to mobilise the voices of young people and advocate for governments to meaningfully engage young people. It partners with the Commonwealth Secretariat and other organisations with a focus on youth development.
“As the chairperson of the CYC, I am first and foremost the representative voice/official spokesperson for the young people within the Commonwealth. I am representing their views, their opinions in decision-making, whether to heads of government, United Nations (UN) processes or global developing processes,” Mr. Christian tells JIS News.
No stranger to leadership roles, Tijani Christian has also served as Jamaica’s Youth Ambassador to the Commonwealth; Special Advisor to the National Youth Council of Jamaica (2014-2016); President of the University of the West Indies Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (UWISTAT) Vice Chancellor’s Ambassador Corps, Mona Chapter (2014); and member of the CARICOM Single Market & Economy (CSME) Spokesperson Bureau.
He was also awarded the Prime Minister’s Youth Award for Excellence in the category of Leadership for 2013 and the Queen’s Young Leaders Award in the summer of 2016.
Mr. Christian tells JIS News that he is intrinsically driven. “I just always want to do better, to effect change, to help as many people as possible to uplift themselves to be in a better situation, and I always want to give others, especially the youth, the opportunity to grow as much as I was able to grow,” he says.
He is a graduate of Seaward Primary and Junior High School on Olympic Way, Jamaica College and the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, where he pursued undergraduate studies in Social Policy and Development. He is presently the Events Coordinator at the National Integrity Action (NIA).
The CYC was established in 2013 with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Programme and endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government at that year’s Summit in Sri Lanka as an “autonomous, youth-led organisation” to advocate on behalf of more than two billion young people in the Commonwealth.
Source: The Jamaica Information Service