It is yet another long weekend. Four days to unwind, socialise and perhaps family time. The parties and drinks are undoubtedly all a part of this.
Take a stroll around the neighbourhood, the malls and pubs, what do you see? The drinks flow as everyone drowns in them. The picture is incomplete without the youth. A host of them can be seen gulping litres of alcohol, dancing, fighting and one need not guess what follows when the hyper males and females disappear in darkness in pairs.
We all want to enjoy our lives and spend time in our activities of choice.
That is true. So what then is the challenge seen in this picture of things?
It is the youth. This is the future. This is the generation that must steer the future of the nation in the very foreseeable future.
Yet it is a generation consumed in drug and alcohol excesses, peer pressure and popular behaviour. This has brought to the fore a host of challenges. Early pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, school and college drop-outs and without doubt, a lost generation. We are staring in the face of a disaster. The hopelessness is painfully clear.
In bemba, it is said “imiti ikula empanga”. The youth are the future. If we want to see the leaders of this country in the next few years, we only have to look around us. It is from this generation that this breed must be wrought. It is that sad realisation that must prompt us to jump out of our comfortable seats in seeking ways to avert catastrophe.
To do this, we then need to also know how we have been exposed to this and have ended up with such a battle.
In my mind’s eye, there are several things I feel we must pay attention to in order to appreciate why this generation seems lost.
Let us explore these.
1. Distorted and wrongly defined goals- the youth today have detached themselves from noble aspirations such as education. We have a generation that wants success but is not ready to work hard for this. When it all crumbles, this breeds hopelessness as they blame the world for their failure.
2. Poor mentorship and wrong role models- who is grooming this generation and the next? Where are the parents and guardians? So much has changed. Careers, ambitious pursuits, questionable social tastes and economic demands have combined and conspired to deprive the youth of the direction they need.
We see today that most of our children are raised by maids, relatives, TV and the internet. This happens while we chase careers and money for a good life and future.
As a result, our children are heavily exposed to the trends and influences they see more of than the guidance of their parents. It is on that basis that we now see gangsters, celebrities and the superficial life becoming the yardstick. The dressing, language, lifestyle and choices we see around are the evidence of this. A gap is created which us parents must fill with the right guidance. Any void must be filled by something and if we do not undertake to manage this, we can now see the result in most of our youth
3. Societal moral decay- related to the above, we have seen the ills that ravage society. Adultery, co-habiting, the case of sugar daddies and mummies, divorces, defilement and partying parents. These are but examples of the so many things gone wrong. Each week the news covers broken homes, domestic violence, lives lost on account of alcohol abuse, corruption, leaders arrested and charged. This has fast become the norm than exception, a very unfortunate situation whose far reaching impact is evident around us.
4. The rot in church-even spiritual leaders have failed to be the torch bearers society needs. If there was a pillar to offer hope, this is one. However, the church today seems an extension of the world. Compromise, the pursuit of wealth, politics and power squabbles are not uncommon. Greed has sunk its sharp teeth in the church’s flesh paralysing its moral authority. This means even the voice that could command some attention is stifled. Church leaders are in the news after marital scandals, in pubs with the flock and the naked ambition that showcases selfishness is clearly exposed.
5. Materialism and westernisation as a definition of success- as in the first point, you have to be “the bomb” to succeed at whatever cost. This is the philosophy and has led to the fast life the youth aspire for. The big flashy cars, fat wallets and a “rented” life of fun are all seen as success. In the end values are grounded on these and thus nothing solid remains to prepare the youth for the future. Hence we see kids drop out of school easily having invested time in parties, alcohol, sex and other appetites.
Sadly, with these ill elements, we are breeding a lazy generation that will not read or learn, go to school, prepare for positive contribution and develop skills to bring out their immense value.
6. Priorities speak- our priorities are not what we say they are. They instead are those we spend the most time on. If we use this as a standard for our youth then the clubs, bars and street time being “Yo’s” are priority. Thus there is no time to develop or engage actively in areas that will build solid characters.
7. The unwanted truth- when God is not in the picture, the whole piece falls apart. What are the values we live by? How is our collective spiritual health? We note here that God is not in any way an active part of our lives. Most of our youth are growing with a limited, if any, appreciation of who God is and His importance in our lives. We all have a part to play because this is the biggest challenge and the ripple effect in society is unmistakable.
In view of these points above, we see the scale of our challenge. We have a generation of leaders stepping off the stage for the next cast. Where is this cast meant to come from? It is the youth we see on the street, at the corner bar, in the club. The young pretty girl that loses her way and comes home pregnant. The wayward son that takes to smoking and drinking, a streetwise life and an empty life with no direction. A glimpse of hopelessness.
This is the leadership pipeline, the “imiti ikula”
Each time we see these scenes unfold, our minds and hearts must turn to what needs to be done.
Intervention starts now and we must find ways to provide guidance and direction to a lost generation. It starts with you and I. Us doing the right thing with our own lives, being examples worth following in how we conduct ourselves and ensuring charity begins at home. It is not the easiest of undertakings but happen it must.
It is there for all of us to see. A generation is crying out to be saved from themselves and a disastrous future.
Can you heed the call?