The Africa we want is in its youth

By Maggie Ngwira, WYA Africa MemberMaggie Ngwira

There is no stage in life that is as powerful as youth. Youth are young, fresh, dynamic, innovative, zealous and driven. “Impossible” almost always is non-existent to youth who are fearless with a vibrant mind and creative in millions of ways. Interesting enough, youth also make up over half of the African population. Youth are the lifeblood of our Africa today, and most importantly, tomorrow.

Unfortunately, African youth are vulnerable on all fronts! Youth are dependent; economically, socially, mentally, physiologically; innocent/ naïve; curious to explore and open to learn.  Youth are thus often used, misused, abused and confused by greedy politicians as baits for personal gains.

What each African nation needs is increased effort and initiatives that can tap into this rare treasure that is youth! Youth need to be well educated and informed, with an education that meets their needs. A good education gives young people the bargaining power to demand and pursue what they need to break the poverty cycle. As such, Africa should not just have policies guaranteeing quality equal education, but also governments need to honour their pledges by providing the required resources. This is where most nations are failing; and yet the core of every society is in the education of its youth.

Africa also needs to learn to put her youth at the forefront of change and development activities. This should not be an excuse for tokenism where youth are used only as bait for propaganda. Neither should youth be reduced to mere beneficiaries. Instead policies and practices should be by, work with, and for youth. Organizations that claim to work for young people’s development need to be youth-led, which not only ensures ownership and sustainability of projects but also guarantees the transfer of knowledge and skills through mentorship so that youths can stand on their own feet. Older generations needs to be more accommodating to let youth in, and simultaneously, youth need to be pro-active and get involved!

Finally, Africa needs to safeguard its lifeline. African youth deserve to be safe and to live, grow, and shine in their own God-given land! Our governments need to enact and most significantly enforce legislation and regulations that protect and promote its youth. For instance, it is commendable that Malawi, Kenya, Tanzania and Swaziland among other countries in Southern Africa have adopted Child Protection systems. Sadly, in many countries, youth remain heavily exploited and the girl-child is considered nothing but a sexual object and the culprits get away with their crimes effortlessly! Africa needs to protect its foundation for a stronger and brighter today and tomorrow.