by Carrie Ndoka
Published on: Jun 15, 2006
Type: Opinions

Generally speaking, it can safely be argued without a doubt that leadership and governance are engines for growth and development.

Over the years, Africa has had to contend with crises associated with leadership and governance, which have aggravated and plunged the continent into the doldrums. Thus, leadership and governance in the continent have suffered from crises which range from identity, legitimacy, penetration, distribution and participation.

Evolving an Africa where leadership and governance take centre stage is where the faith in our belief as youths lies. It is on this note that we have over the years been among the front-liners in the struggle to empower African youths in the area of leadership and governance through a deliberate policy of liberalizing the political, economic and social spaces for them to participate effectively and efficiently in all spheres of life as they relate to decision making and implementation. This is meant to give the greatest good to the greatest number of youths.

The basic questions as far as this issue is concerned are: Who are the youths? Do youths have something to offer in the project of nation as well as continental building? How do we mainstream youths in leadership and governance now and in the future? Do we have hope in the ability and capacity of the youths as vanguards for change?

As a matter of fact, young people are significant in every society. No community or nation can develop without the integration of youths. They are full of energy, vigour and immense creativity. Youths are extremely sensitive and inquisitive about their environment and always ready to participate. Youths are the soldiers of society, the vigilantes, as well as the defenders of their nation in sports and games. When elders plan, they execute. In community development work, they are always at the forefront. In politics they determine who gets what, when and how. When you ignore youths, you ignore the very soul of the nation as well as weaken your negotiating capacity for the future since, the future of the nation is the future of youths.

However, like anyone, youths have a dual nature. They could be highly productive but as equally destructive. Either way, it depends on how they are treated and/or manipulated. When their energies are properly harnessed, society benefits from them. On the other hand, when they feel deprived and denied they become extremely destructive. They are a delicate set of human beings and interactions with them require tact and wisdom.

For us as a people, we must believe in the values of democracy and strive to inculcate these values, which are premised on the participation of our youths. This is a sure way to ensure growth and development. There is an urgent need to create opportunities for youths to imbibe the democratic ideals of fairness and procedural effectiveness. They no doubt have ideas, experience and insights that can enrich adult understanding and make a positive contribution to the task of nation building. For its part the government has a primary responsibility to provide the policies, institutional frameworks and leadership to support local initiatives from youths to enable them to make the necessary impacts and changes to society.

Without mincing words, it can be said that youths have come of age; it is obvious that the days of violence, vandalism and futile denigration are over. It has become clear that the present situation in the majority of countries on the African continent demands nothing from its youths other than to look out as well as take advantage of every opportunity to participate actively in changing the status quo and shaping a better future. Gone are the days when youths can sit back and hallucinate in the name of being leaders of tomorrow.

For us as a people, the step of faith we must take at this point in time lies in our ability and capacity to take our destiny into our hands. While as youths we care about the quality of what we have to offer for the future of Africa and its people, we can only succeed when the leaders in the older generation care about our success. Gone are the days when youths were only heard and not seen. The task for us in the twenty-first century lies in addressing the challenge to be heard.

Is there Hope for African Youth?

We see hope in the strength of mind, resilience and the unconquerable spirit of the African Youth. Their unbridled energy and limitless enthusiasm are an invaluable resource.

We see hope in their resistance when they are pushed to the wall.

We see hope in their fanaticism, commitment and audacity in the face of adversity.

We see hope in the illimitable and incurable optimism of our youth.

We see hope in the readiness of those African youths who stand firm with all their strength against the evil which past regimes represented.

We see hope in the dogged conduct and adamant drive of African youths in demanding a democratic process since what we focus on becomes our reality.

We see hope in the youth and the young because our today, tomorrow and future lie in them, and because they know and clearly see the outcome of their goals.

We see hope in the great potential of African youth: empowered, motivated and well led.

We see hope in the blending of experience, energy and vitality of the old and the new through appreciation, good will and good intent.

We see hope in the dynamism, vibrancy and richness of our culture and heritage, which are all rooted in our diversity. Thus we celebrate this magic of difference.

Gone are the days when youths sat back and hallucinated in the name of becoming leaders of tomorrow. The time is now.

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