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

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. Volunteers are the “heart “of 4-H. 

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.

Arusha, Tanzania
Arusha, Tanzania

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.

Inspire for Change logo

For summer 2021, the Global 4-H Summit “Inspire for Change” is scheduled to be held in Arusha, Tanzania. The Tanzania 4H Organization is cordially welcoming all 4H Organizations to send participants to the third held Summit. The African region and Tanzania is proud to host the Summit and warmly welcomes members, volunteers, professionals and board members to Tanzania.

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.

International conversations are bringing cultures together as well. The next session will focus on Ghana and Uganda on May 21, 2021. Register at International Conversations with Ghana and Uganda. Check the Michigan 4-H International Programs Events feed for future conversations and events. 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.

Other articles in this series

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