4-H around the world: Africa

Similar 4-H programs exist in more than 80 countries. Let’s explore some of these 4-H programs in this global connection starting with Africa.

Betty Udongo, 4-H African resource leader, teaching paper bead making at the 2014 Michigan 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizenship Spectacular.
Betty Udongo, 4-H African resource leader, teaching paper bead making at the 2014 Michigan 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizenship Spectacular.

February is the month that some individuals celebrate Valentine’s Day. In 4-H, one of the “H’s” represent “heart.” The Michigan State University Extension article “Ubuntu: A South African philosophy that can inspire youth” provided the definition of Ubuntu as “a heartbeat” and “in the heartbeat of people.” Michigan 4-H families have annually opened up their homes and “hearts” to many international students through Michigan 4-H International Exchange Programs and working with the States’ 4-H International Exchange.

4-H has spread around the world where similar programs exist in more than 80 countries. In this article series, we will explore some of these 4-H programs in this global connection, starting with Africa.

4-H has been in existence in Africa for over 50 years with the largest 4-H program in Kenya, where it is called 4-K. In Africa 4-K clubs, the four “K’s” in Swahili stand for Kenya, Kuungana (to unite), Kufanya (to do) and Kusaidia (to help). Its emblem has a map of Kenya, a cow and “Nina Ahidi,” meaning “I promise.” The MSU Extension articles “4-H develops youth around the world – Part 1” and “4-H provides positive youth development opportunities around the world – Part 2” explain there are 13 countries in Africa 4-K, including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, South Africa and Zambia.

Currently, the independent, country-led 4-H programs have taken root in 15 countries identified in Africa with more every year. National 4-H Council’s 4-H Around the World: The Youth Solution explains the 4-H partnership in Africa and contains a must-see video on 4-H in Africa. The MSU Extension article “4-H in Africa: Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Africa” provides even more information on this global connection.

The 4-H programs, with a pilot conducted in Tanzania in 2010-11, were started through the 4-H Global Network. During summer 2016, Maryland 4-H international programming is elevating the way in which leaders are developed by offering a two-week service learning program in Tanzania. 4-H members, volunteers and staff will be providing efforts to promote global education and intercultural experience by taking this humanitarian-focused adventure and lending a helping hand in the community as well as teaching 4-H project information.

The heart of 4-H is beating across the globe following the “and my world” of the 4-H pledge. Ubuntu: in the heartbeat of the people.

Other global educational opportunities can also be found on MSU Extension’s Global and Cultural Education website. For more information about 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs contact your local MSU Extension county office.

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