African Youth: What Is Our Responsibility?
The immensity of youth in Africa in terms of population has been a subject of discourse among many forums in different contexts. The youth demographic has been lauded by some as a resource that needs to be tapped into for the benefit of the continent and discredited by others as a strain on available resources and a source of the ills faced in their respective communities such as high crime rates and radicalization by terrorist groups among others.
The questions to ponder therefore are: What is the responsibility of the massive youth population to the continent which they call home? What can be done to ensure that this responsibility is honored and translated into visible actions? Lastly, how can this goal be achieved?
Youth, according to the United Nations, refers to persons between the age of 15 and 24 years while the African Youth Charter defines youth as every person between the age of 15 and 35 years. The age of an individual, however, only serves to complement his/her youth which is further characterized by transcending from childhood to adulthood with an increased ability to analyze situations and make independent decisions. Youth is also, more often than not, a period characterized by zealousness, energy, drive and vigor as well as many other positive attributes.
With these characteristics in mind, there are three key responsibilities that young people have and should ensure they fulfill them accordingly. The first responsibility is to learn. Learn. Learn. Learn. Learn as much as you can about your history and the present status of your society as well as other societies in the world. Young people should endeavor to be well informed on the genesis of key aspects of our existence and how it came to be through cultivating an inquisitive mindset eager for useful information.
Secondly, young people have a responsibility to be critical thinkers and scrutinize each existing piece of information in order to make a positive determination on what is useful vis-a-vis what is harmful. Young people must also seek to understand how the events of the past contributed to and shaped the current status from the most basic societal grouping to the global village.
Finally, young people need to be problem solvers through envisioning a better future for their generation and generations to come and developing the means to attain the desired solutions. The commonly used saying; ‘Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches’ is a pointer to the advantage of solutions being developed with proper knowledge of the ‘pinch’ of the problem being addressed. Young people are wearers of the shoes as much as any other population demographic and as such they are well placed to develop home grown solutions to address the challenges they face. The analytical aspect enables youth to learn from best practices and avoid mistakes from the past while innovating and determining the way forward for the future.
These responsibilities cannot be achieved through any other means other than getting the ball rolling and taking action in our societies. African youth need to take steps, in whatever capacity, to ensure that they are actively involved in the day to day affairs of their communities, countries and the continent at large. It is important for all youth to be conscious of the strength they wield and the positive impact that they can have in their societies so as to actively engage in activities that utilizes their potential for their benefit as well as that of the entire citizenry.
Due to the diverse nature of our population and the varying economic and social backgrounds, the set out goals can be achieved through transfer of knowledge from the ‘learned few’ to the general populace. Each one has a duty to pass on necessary and important information to other members of the society who may not have direct access so as to ensure the entire community is made up of change agents who are working together towards a common goal to transform their society for the better. We each have the necessary skills and capabilities to contribute towards the gravitation of our motherland from one riddled with negative attributes to one that utilizes all its resources for the benefit of its inhabitants. African youth; the time to act is now!