Edwin continues his blog series to celebrate International Youth Day
Today is International Youth Day and a public holiday in Zambia. I am, therefore, dedicating this blog to youths everywhere, because we are the next stakeholders, CEOs, Managing Directors, Presidents and Members of Parliament, and Senators. But I am writing this blog for those holding those positions now as you are the very important agents who can either build on what is, or hamper that which is to come.
We youths are just in the phase of finding our purpose for life, whether in the family, work, community, or in academia. Even if we have landed a place at a good university or in a great jobs, does not mean we have arrived. What we need is help to find our purpose.
I see the situation all around me where we are not empowered to develop and improve ourselves, based on our talents, passions and skills. For instance, a few Sundays ago, I was in my church. It had been decided that the youth should lead the singing. The next Sunday, the main choir wanted me to stay in their team. But singing is neither my passion nor my gift. Instead, my interest and skills are more suited to joining the media team and take charge of broadcasting ours services. The senior choir members, however, are making it difficult for me to leave and do what I love. What I really need is for them to set me free and help me to become even better at what I want to do.
Let’s continue. If we youths are tomorrow’s leaders, then now is the time we should be preparing. What prepares us for greatness, are education and self-discovery. But look at how many youths in my country are mis- or under-educated!
I had a conversation with Andrew, one of Our Moon students:
What do you think is the problem of the youths of today?
I think it’s the problem of identity. They are looking for themselves in whatever they’re doing. Some, because they can’t seem to find anything, are frustrated already, and have given up on themselves, so you’ll find they quickly start to accept what goes on around them.
Are there any good things that we are doing in our communities?
Yes, who do Chinese companies employ to build their fine buildings? Young people like us. Who are driving the big public transport buses? Us. Who is in the army? Us.
Is the government, through the education system, empowering more youths?
Look, there’s no problem with sponsoring the graduate with high grades. The problem is that most youth don’t manage to do that.” So how are you going to make change to Zambia with the majority being left out of education opportunities? But this case is complicated, somehow, because obviously we can’t give such opportunities to low-achieving students. There’s a need to strategically plan for those left out students.
Organisations like Our Moon and Kucetekela Foundation, which are helping some of them into higher learning institutions, deserve a hand. Companies like Bongo Hive, Shoprite, Spar, Trade Kings, PwC, Impact Enterprises in Chipata, are empowering youths with skills. They must be supported – because educating/empowering youth, is a direct investment into the future of our nation.
I agree with you, that firstly, youths are suffering from an identity crisis, and are constantly looking for it. Andrew, you and I have been lucky that, through Our Moon, we have been given the opportunity to start this process. However, for the majority of us, there is little space for us to explore ourselves. But what I can say to my fellow youths, is: yearn to build yourselves, desire to change things for the better, and through that same process, you’ll meet yourself, and live as you. And company bosses, members of Parliament and people in positions of influence, please help to create more of these spaces to let this happen.
Happy Youth Day to you all in Zambia!