Breaking Through in Africa: Ndèye Founé Niang and Keith Jacobs elected as UNI Africa President & Regional Secretary
At the conclusion of a week-long series of sectoral meetings and women and youth events in Dakar, Senegal, culminating in the 4th UNI Africa Conference, Ndèye Founé Niang, was unanimously elected as the new President of UNI Africa alongside the new Regional Secretary, Keith Jacobs.
Participants praised President Founé for her leadership qualities, evident in her former role as vice-president of UNI Africa. She has been a force for change in her own union in Senegal, SNTPT Telecom, and in the wider Africa continent. Above all she is shining the light for all women across the continent.
The new President spoke of her pride at being elected and how she would work tirelessly to do her part to create a New Africa fit for workers.
“I am touched by the incredible welcome – I don’t have the words to express my eternal gratitude for your trust,” said Niang. “It’s not only my honour, but an honour for my country and my people.”
"I would like to thank Bones and Zakari for passing me the torch and building an organisation at the top of its credibility. Together, we will create a new Africa!"
During his acceptance speech as the new UNI Africa Regional Secretary, Keith Jacobs, the former Director of Organising, spoke of his pleasure to have the opportunity to work with Foune, a highly competent and professional union leader.
Jacobs paid tribute to the outgoing team of Bones Skulu and Zakari Koudougou and thanked them for the excellent job they have done in bringing UNI Africa to maturity.
“I want to thank you for the confidence you have in electing me, a young man from the dusty streets of Paarl East, to lead the Secretariat in implementing the resolutions adopted during this Conference.”
Jacobs set out the challenges facing unions in Africa and underlined his total commitment to organising and his vision for UNI Africa continuing with the UNI Breaking Through strategy.
He explained, “My passion is organising. We realised that without high levels of union representation, be it representing more than 70% of workers or winning délégué du personnel elections at workplaces, employers will be nice to us but will not take us serious. It is for this reason that the UNI Breaking Through strategy became such an important vehicle to build collective bargaining power through organising.”
Jacobs said he would draw on the spirit of his own homeland, As my former President, Thabo Mbeki, said during the passing of the new constitution of South Africa on 8 May 1996, and I quote “I am an African, I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.” He was calling for an African Rennaissance, a New Africa, as we in UNI Africa call for today. UNI AFRICA, LET’S BOUNCE, AMANDLA!”