By: Ajibola Bakare
[Analyses]–One of the rare attributes I have discovered in an average African youth is the huge level of energy dispel in all form of engagement even in the face of economic injustice, insecurity, political instability, leadership let-down and corruption that has continued to stare confidently at us in the face. I have argued on different fora that been energetic and optimistic amidst failed political promises and bad leadership are rare because in my interaction, over the years, with young persons of other continents, Nigerians have the greatest enduring affinity.
Something that is very interesting about the youth population of Nigeria for example, is that it is twice the entire population of United Kingdom, larger than the population of Ghana and South Africa combined. Most interestingly, if the young people in Nigeria were to be a country, they will be the 8th largest country in the world all over. A statistics that is scary but avails us so much advantage if well used. 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 have been 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 can ever happen to the young people of African descent in recent time. It is powerful, well-articulated, thought provoking and you will immediately 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 without anything to show for it. Our hustle has been stifled, crippled, paralyzed and shoved down our individual throats. Our creativity and innovative ideas are been choked up by the constant battle for survival, that daily comes our way. We have been coerced into accepting just anything that has the slightest semblance of 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 greatest drive and motivation.
On the lips of an average African youth are tales of how to get away from the shackles of poverty and its vices to a group of people where their potentials, 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 has defiled the 21st century agenda. To such youths, nothing good can ever happen to them, until they leave the shores of African. 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 impossible is nothing and that we must continue to give highest disregard for the impossible. If they can, you also can. These young Africans were determined never to allow economic inactivities, mediocre leadership capacities of a set of people stifle their hunger for success. They knew what they wanted and they went for it. You too can.
Ironically, the rest of the world parades a certain 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 oversea the affairs of the country of Austria. In Africa on the other hand, there is a president of 74years in Nigeria and another 93years in Zimbabwe until a few weeks ago. Their intellectual capacities are several miles apart. Little wonder we complain of basic amenities we should ideally have in excess. The political classes in African rolls out the drums, hire a professional musician, distribute Aso ebi, give out souvenirs, just to commission a kilometer road or a solar powered bore hole while you hardly hear about the almost completed artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and solar powered cars in saner continents. This is the basis of my earlier compassion of an average African youth to the other continents.
The generations before us have failed and disappointed us, yet they continue to rub their obvious failures and inanities in our faces and still come to us with their failed products every four years for re-elections. They have vowed not to give us chances, but we must continue to parade our best talents. They want to keep at recycling themselves while 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 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 pain of regret and pain, 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 sectors, the government, the leadership and most emotionally, the pride of the world is none 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.
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