By: Ajibola Bakare
One rare attribute I have discovered in the average African youth is the huge level of energy they dispel in all forms of engagement, even in the face of economic injustice, insecurity, political instability, leadership let-down and corruption that have continued to stare us confidently in the face.
I have argued on different fora that being energetic and optimistic amidst failed political promises and bad leadership are rare qualities because in my interaction over the years with young persons from other continents, Nigerians have the greatest affinity for endurance.
Something that is very interesting about the youth population of Nigeria for example, is that it is twice the entire population of The United Kingdom, larger than the population of Ghana and South Africa combined. More interestingly, if the young people in Nigeria were to be a country, they will be the 8th largest country in the world. A statistic that is scary but avails us so much advantage if well used. In fact, if all we do is negotiate sincerely for a real deal, with our demographic advantage, nothing that we ask will ever be denied us.
I was inspired to write this piece after reading Mr. Elumelu’s Letter to the Next Generation more than a hundred times. That Letter is the best thing that could ever have happened to the young people of African descent in recent times. It is powerful, well-articulated, thought provoking and will immediately inspire you to start a movement against the cankerworms and rebels disguising as Leaders on the African soil.
He wrote about how brave, resilient, dogged, determined, innovative, daring, creative and enduring African youths can be, even without having anything to show for it. Our hustle has been stifled, crippled, paralyzed and shoved down our individual throats. Our creativity and innovative ideas are beingchoked up by the constant battle for survival. We have been coerced into accepting just anything that has the slightest semblance to the kind of life we truly desire.
The statement- “We are not where we want to be, but definitely not where we used to be” has become our solace and consolation. It has been our drive and motivation.
On the lips of the average African youth are tales of how to get away from the shackles of poverty that bedevil the continent. They wish to find a place where their potential, creativity, ideas, skills and talents are not just nurtured, but appreciated, and sustained. Little wonder many got trapped in the ugly slave trade in Libya that was recently brought to light. To such youths, nothing good can ever happen to them, until they leave the shores of Africa. How fallacious and untrue.
The story of young Africans like Adebola Williams, Chude Jideonwo, Chris Kwekowe, Gloria, Michelle, Ayo Balogun (Wizkid), David Adeleke (Davido), Otieno Muka, Japheth Omojuwa, Dayo Israel, Stephen Akintayo, Toyosi Akerele, Chinamanda and several other Africans who have lifted the flags of their countries and the African continent on international pedestals, are testaments to the fact that we must continue to have the highest disregard for the impossible.
If they can, you also can.
These young Africans were determined never to allow economic inactivities and mediocre leadership stifle their hunger for success. They knew what they wanted and they went for it.
You too can.
Note that the rest of the world boasts of Leo Varadkar (38) as president of Ireland, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck (37) as president of Bhutan, Jacinda Arden(37) as prime minister of new Zealand, Emmanuel Marcon(39) as French president, 29 years old Vanessa D’Ambrosio of Manino, and most inspiringly, 31 years old Sebastian Kurs was elected as the youngest president in the world in October 2017, to oversee the affairs of the country of Austria.
In Africa on the other hand, there is a president of 74years in Nigeria and another of 93years in Zimbabwe until a few weeks ago.Little wonder we complain about lack of basic amenities. The political classes in Africarollout drums, hire professional musicians, distribute Aso ebi(uniforms) and give out souvenirs, just to commission a kilometer road or a solar powered bore hole.
All these while they deal with the almost completed artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and solar powered cars in saner continents.
Due to all these, the energetic youth is left livid, discouraged, and depressed. Our creativity and innovative ideas continue to harm us more than they benefit us. I watched with great regret and pain, an interview granted by a former minster of works, where he said confidently, that a poor man has no business in politics.
In other words; the poor, energetic, vibrant African youth has no business in politics. What a shame!
As i drop my pen, I will re-echo the words of Tony Elumelu, that the task ahead is hard but do-able. It is a journey of uncertainty but it is worth the risk. It seems difficult, but it can be done. The only people saddled with the responsibility of rescuing the economy, the private sector, the government, the leadership and most emotionally, the pride of the world is none other than the ENERGETIC AFRICAN YOUTH.
Let’s get our hands dirty, not soiled with illegalities; let’s support ourselves, not bring each other down. We have the numbers, we have the strength, we have the skills and we have God.