SYPALA Activities: 2010

By 2010, SYPALA needed no introduction. She was known around the continent and this time, SYPALA decided to spread its wings and take its conference to the East African country of Tanzania where the well known week long symposium was held. This was to enable the East African students who were previously unable to attend SYPALA conferences due to financial constraints have the program come off right at their doorstep at the University of Dodoma (UDOM) with 65 young promising students from Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. As always, students were in for a life changing session from lectures, discussions and group discussions that shaped their worldview and always geared them towards wanting to do more for man and society.

Most of the themes from the program revolved around the thoughts and thinking of French philosopher, journalist and economist Frederic Bastiat in commemoration of his 209th birthday. Writing in the early 19th century, Frederic Bastiat capably weighed in, with wit and insight, into the popular discussions of individual freedom versus power.  We have seen how much carnage the politics of big men has caused in Africa. Bastiat warned of the penchant for  governments  legislating powers to enable them to drive their utopian ideas of equalizing welfare for everyone, when, in fact, the only way to achieve that was by un-equalizing power by giving rulers the power to take what everyone had productively applied their minds and physical labour to.  There are a lot of these often misdirected do-good attitudes by many African governments with dire consequences for “prosperity, morality, equality, right, justice, progress, responsibility, cooperation, property, labor, trade, capital, wages, taxes, population, finance, or government”.  But, Bastiat believed then, and many will attest to the fact that many of society’s problems though largely caused by intrusive governments have one solution- liberty.  “At whatever point on the scientific horizon I begin my researches, I invariably reach this one conclusion: the solution to the problems of human relationships is to be found in liberty”. Thus many of the themes at this year’s program invariably fell within the theme of liberty in response to tackling many of the questions and challenges facing Africa. An essay competition was also launched allowing the youth from age 18-35 take an active part in dealing with a question in a practical manner and in 1500 words, were to identify three actions of their government which they considered curious or rather suspicious while describing some of the hidden costs behind the actions and this was to be reflective of Bastiat’s thoughts on opportunity cost. Prospective essay writers were encouraged to read Bastiat’s essay, What Is seen and What Is not Seen. The awards for the essay writers were as follows, $800 for first place, $600 for second and $400 for third. There were also 5 Honorable mentions with $150 for each mention.