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Franca Sozzani Headshot

Kampala, Uganda

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I fully agree with you on the fact that some issues move people away from each other, as nothing like remaining in the dark about problems helps staying happy. Still, I want to talk to you about Africa, but in a positive way and tell you we are going to dedicate a whole issue of L'Uomo Vogue to this continent, so full of surprises and a place where, most of all, the energy is so intense -- as intense as we would have never imagined.

In some African countries, the population's average age is under 20 years-old, and hopefully new talents and new ideas shall make these countries develop and advance. The Internet works everywhere and the use of telephones is widespread just like information -- and the good thing is that there are lots of young artists, writers and fashion designers. They often belong to small, but rapidly growing environments. They are well-aware that everything depends on them, but also on us, and how we can help them.

I shall not use two words I hate, "charity" and "compassion," as they are both meaningless, as they will help people get some food for a few days or pacify miserable souls for a few hours. Then, everyone will go back to their homes, and "bye-bye." And those staying will have to manage, somehow. No way: We must work hard to create job opportunities for them in their own countries, and this can be done in many ways. Doctors aside -- who are the primary requirement and that, besides curing patients, could train new doctors and nurses -- we may set up workshops and start producing there and not just in far east countries, and then we could go and teach there because culture is the main instrument to get away from ignorance and poverty.

How many of us, specialized in different fields, could help raise a new generation? Utopias? They're not. We need to have the will to work hard, to make sacrifices and fight against taboos and false ideologies. Patience and determination. Not interested in the subject matter? I believe that thinking too much about it may cause considerable personal issues, and we all have our own already: why look for other trouble? Sometimes it's not a matter of selfishness, but of fear: We are scared to face an unknown situation. We need to be brave, and to take chances as usual.

Being here and meeting young people who hope for a better future through their job is not that hard, and not so emotionally engaging. They are not asking for anything and don't need overly sympathetic people: They need a job. And we can give them a job in many ways. I have met so many people, and the will to make it is the same I perceive when I talk with you about the difficulties young people find when looking for job.

Here everything is enhanced to the nth power. Yet Uganda is a beautiful place, with an amazing climate and the traffic is crazy! You spend hours in cars, but then somebody smiles at you, somebody who is making progress in their life, and you feel totally rewarded. Let's support them, all of us -- personally, a working holiday could be a good idea to start with!