2017 Leadership Essay Competition Winner tells you how to Win

Victor Azure while receiving his award from H.E. Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The 2017 UONGOZI Institute Leadership Essay Competition received over 3,000 essays from across Africa. Contestants were asked to answer the following question on their essays:

“If you were a leader, what would you do to ensure that peace and security is achieved and sustained in Africa?”

Mr. Victor Azure, an aspiring young leader from Ghana emerged as the overall winner of the Competition.

As this year’s Leadership Essay Competition call for submissions is still open, we took the opportunity to interview Mr. Azure. In the interview, he shared his experience and tips for young Africans who are interested in participating in the competition.

Can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Victor Azure, a 25-year-old from Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region of Ghana. I am currently a postgraduate law student at the University of Ghana, the same university where I obtained my first degree in Political Science and Philosophy.

Before Law School, I worked as a Research Associate at the Legon Center for International Affairs and Diplomacy (LECIAD) where I served as a Project Assistant in the team that drafted Ghana’s Foreign Policy blueprint for the next 40 years as part of the country’s 40-Year Development Plan.

Through LECIAD, I wrote several policy briefs, published a book review on the Legon Journal of International Affairs and Diplomacy and an article in the Ghana Social Sciences Journal.

Furthermore, during the 2016 General Election in Ghana, I was part of the National Election Monitoring Team under the National Peace Council, which facilitated and developed mechanisms for conflict prevention and management.

What inspired you to participate in the Leadership Essay Competition?

First of all, I genuinely felt I had something to contribute on the topic, it was closely linked to the field I was working in as well as my educational background.

Secondly, I think my Ghanaian upbringing also inspired me to participate. Coming from the country of Kwame Nkrumah one cannot grow up consciously and not contemplate some of the things that he stood for, a liberated and united Africa. Peace and security are few of the elements needed to support Nkurumah’s vision.

Thirdly, I believe that Africa’s development can be fully realised if African youth are inspired to find innovative, well-suited and sustainable solutions to African problems. So, I was very excited to find a platform such as UONGOZI Institute’s Leadership Essay Competition, which allowed young people like me to contribute to important discussions on building a peaceful and sustainable Africa.

Tell us about your experience in Johannesburg at the African Leadership Forum, what interested you the most?

I used to tell my friends a joke that if I wasn’t a Ghanaian, then I would have probably been a South African. I am a history enthusiast, and I have always been moved with stories of freedom fighters and/or anti-apartheid activists like Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Winnie Mandela and others. Therefore, I was very pleased to be among the top five winners who were invited to attend the 2017 African Leadership Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Forum had a blend of leaders, experts and scholars from across Africa and other parts of the world, which made its discussions very interesting. It felt special to be in the same room with former Heads of State; H.E. Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa, H.E. Benjamin Mkapa, former President of Tanzania, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, H.E. Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia, H.E. Bakili Muluzi, former President of Malawi, H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, former President of Somalia and H.E. Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania.

It was an eye-opening experience.

What tips can you share with young Africans who would like to participate this year?   

Connect with the topic: You need to understand that you are the narrator, if you cannot connect to the topic enough to pin down examples and provide evidence, you might end up with a weak argument.

Do your homework: Almost everything under the sun has been written about. But, ideas are revised every now and then. Thus, before writing your essay, read about the subject. It allows you to develop or enhance your knowledge on the subject, and answer the essay question in a creative manner. The key here is to find a new way of presenting the issue.

Structure is important: You will not have more than two pages to discuss a very heavy topic. Structure can help you save space and say more. Your first paragraph should set out clearly what you want to achieve with your essay and how you are going to do it. This will enable the examiners to comprehend and follow your argument. Furthermore, subsequent paragraphs must run into each other to tell a coherent story. When paragraphs are coherent you are saved from writing a long conclusion.

Avoid plagiarism: Examiners will hold you to the higher standard than an ordinary blog or other social media platforms. Do not plagiarise, and acknowledge your sources.

19 thoughts on “2017 Leadership Essay Competition Winner tells you how to Win

  1. Congratulations to my good friend Victor Azure on coming out on top. I have always believed you are made for things greater than ordinary but reading through this article feels like learning from a professor of very vast knowledge and experience. Keep soaring mate!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its true that youths are the key to a peacefull and secure Africa , and they should do it from the root sources of the problem considering behaviour or characters of people being source of harmony in families only if they are are well built and that results to a nation with oder since its people in respective societies have beauty in their character and finally all african nations are at peace since their people are well behaved. What am stressing here is character being the fundamental key to internal peace and security.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve not written any assay before on international level but hoping to write one.But am asking how am I supposed to include the intellectual property rights.thank you


    1. Hello Nassanga, thank you for your interest in this year’s competition. All contestants are required to submit a Statement of Originality. The Statement serves as a declaration that the content is originally produced by the contestant and all sources used in the essay have been acknowledged. There’s a template for this, which must be filled and signed by a contestant and submitted as a separate document in PDF/JPEG/PNG format. Please refer to “Useful links” above.


  4. In case I discover that the essay I have submitted has some errors…..is it possible to re-edit and send another copy.


      1. It was actually the same entry that I just reedited and sent. I just beg that it was not intentionally and I had actually submitted it. Please I beg for your mercy. Thanks! One Love Africa


  5. Good evening…
    I am from Nigeria…
    My question is…how are the essays graded?
    If I win from Nigeria would I be required to travel?


    1. Hello Kings, thank you for your email. Essays will be judged on the basis of originality, organisation, creativity, appropriateness to contest theme and the use of language. With the present uncertainties due to COVID-19, the awarding ceremony will be held virtually during our annual leadership Forum (African Leadership Forum) at the end of this month.


    1. Hello Kings, winners will be invited to attend the plenary session of the ALF 2020 where they will be recognised before an audience of former Heads of State and leaders from the public institutions, regional and international organisations, private sector and civil society organisations. Later on, awards will be sent to their respective physical addresses.


  6. Greetings. Please I didn’t put my name in the essay when I submitted but I typed it in the body of my mail and my statement of originality as well. Please, I hope there won’t be consequences?


  7. The essay and comments flowing from Victor’s interview are thought provoking. They speak of a divine hour for African youth to arise and positively affect the status quo. Thank you UONGOZI INSTITUTE for the platform


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