Yet again, the annual parade has taken place. The youth have taken to the street, pounding the Independence Avenue surface to commemorate Youth day on March 12th.
The cycle and pattern is consistent each year. The march past, the brass band, the salutes and aerial displays as the helicopters zoom past. Then the speeches follow either the Republican President or his delegate.
A moment of renewed reflection
The pattern may be the same each year but what is done with the current circumstances the youth face is more critical. This year, my mind has challenged me to a deeper level of thought.
What is there to celebrate? Who owes the youth a celebration or indeed something to celebrate indeed?
This line of thought has prompted me to question how much I have to play as an individual in creating the future I desire. Does the Government owe me that future as much as I owe it to myself?
There is need to curb the rise of the apologetic youth. The youth that points an accusing finger at everyone else but themselves. The youth that sits back, expecting the world to give them all while they do nothing in return.
No time to play casual
The youth must realise that there will not always be time to rehearse or get the good things dumped on their laps. They create and prepare for the future through today’s choices and actions.
So first and foremost, the fact dawns that any future we desire or want to achieve must first be driven by us.
As the youth ponder what tomorrow holds, the pertinent question becomes whether they are aware that the mantle is passing on to them.
Once the youth adopt this mindset, it is inevitable that they will channel energies and thoughts to how they can and are preparing to embrace this future. When the responsibility is clear and expected, what must be done becomes explicit.
Then too will we appreciate our inherent value and potential. When this happens, we may then reject attempts and the trend to use us as cheap political cadres or simply a readily available means to a selfish end.
Wanted: Role models
By extension, this throws the spotlight on role models. Who is moulding today’s youth? What example are they exposed to as they prepare for the next level?
If the role model is chronically flawed, unaware of their influence or simply inappropriate, this spells an active challenge to the youth.
They stand the risk of being a younger version of the tried and failed role model.
Youth beware. Pick your role model wisely and let your drive be to make a huge difference in any and all areas of influence in your life. That way the ultimate motivation is from within.
There is an immense number of things happening around us. We must therefore be selective of what we learn, who teaches it and who we allow to influence our ideology, life and worldview.
The demand is not for perfect role models. Rather it is for the appropriate example to be set. An example that inspires and propels others to accentuate their positive side, strengths over weaknesses.
As the world stands today, so much lies on the shoulder and head of the youth. A misled, ill equipped and weak youth spells horror for this world’s future.
The parental factor
This aspect is critical. Most of the exemplary lives of the youth we can point to today are a result of parental shepherding.
If our parents got it right, it has shown in those good examples we see now. If they got it wrong, perhaps some of the chaos around us is a testimony of that.
The point though remains that the parents have played a commendable part and handed over an evident positive heritage.
How are we preparing to hand over the next mantle? What will be our legacy when the next generation must take over? Are we harnessing a positive life that will impact those we influence? Or are we a collection of youth that are wasting away, a disaster waiting to happen?
We do not have to be in high profile positions, splashed all over the newspapers or wrapped in a cloud of popularity. Where we are, in whatever we do, we all have something to offer and build on that will impact someone’s life meaningfully.
The connecting link is whether we are aware of this and are prepared to take the lonely route of positivity. This is as opposed to the oft treaded path of ease that most youth take.
Anything holding the youth back?
Now that we each may know we have something to offer, what is it that impedes us? Each person on the face of the earth has something endowed in them to make a mark.
We either ignore it or have no use for it because we opt for the precise opposite.
The youth that will take over tomorrow and make a difference are those that realise they owe it to themselves to do what must be done. The choice to be different lies with the individual. Anything more to spur one on is a mere bonus.
This calls for honest introspection on the part of the youth. Is it a lack of self belief that hinders our progress? Is it drugs and alcohol abuse? Could it be illicit sex, unwanted pregnancies, STDs/AIDS and death?
Many of the vices that derail today’s youth are self inflicted. Many can be averted and a brighter meaningful future achieved. But that realisation must be an individual’s. Anything less entails more of the same despondency and stagnation. More stories of failure and wasted potential that can build a nation, continent and world.
When every youth accepts this truth, it will become imperative to all that the future desired is entirely their call. This will surely give rise to visionary youth ready to be the generation that etches its mark on the world.
This cannot be a tall order. We have seen unparalleled levels of creativity, bounds of energy and leadership qualities in some of our youth. Undoubtedly, this points to the fact that the pipeline has the right resource in supply. It is time to tap it.
Government off the hook?
The foregoing does not in any way devolve responsibility from the Government and our national leaders. They are in roles that stimulate progress.
Therefore, when all those speeches are made, what follows to ensure execution and set the stage for the youth to realise their potential?
Are they merely empty rhetorical speeches to fulfil a fixture? Is there real action that ensues to deliver on commitments made?
If nothing tangible results from all this talk, we may as well discontinue the commemoration of such annual events. Until such a time that we are resolved to make a difference and not speak to be heard or seen.
This year the theme is “Opportunity for youths through enterprise”. What will this really mean and what real steps will be taken to support youth development and empowerment? What skill enhancement will take place to equip them to be entrepreneurs? What opportunities will be created to apply these skills or generate sustainable income?
It is such factors that will have a lasting impact on ills such as high unemployment, poverty, disease and failure that have beleaguered the youth. One only needs to spend some time observing our crop in schools, colleges and the streets as they roam. The looming disaster is unmistakeable.
Much as it may be a dire situation with some casualties along the way, it does not spell the end. We can do something about it and the starting point is the youth themselves. Everyone else will come in afterwards to render the required support.
That is precisely where Government comes in. To facilitate the development of the youth through deliberate and sustainable interventions.
If Government intention remains on paper, delivered through speeches, what we parrot each year will remain worthless. It will not build the next leaders or provide them a platform to take over and lead the nation into progress, development and prosperity.
A parting thought
As it has been known and stated, each of us has unique skills, abilities and potential. In the end, we will give an account of what we did with them and even the resources made available to us in whatever form.
What will be the excuse? That we did nothing with the “talents”? That the Government did nothing for us? That we had no opportunities to achieve anything? What will we show for the shot at education we were accorded, the chance in a job where we became lax?
The list may be endless but the fact remains that the youth have a part to play to make a better tomorrow a reality. Further support may come but time to take steps towards progress start with the individual.
This Youth Day, each youth is challenged to reflect on what they will do differently from this point on. It is a positive choice each one of us cannot shy away from.
Like is so often said, it is best for opportunity to find those prepared for it.
Are you, dear youth?