My Africa

March 22, 2019 Africa , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS

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By

Cynthia Meru

 

 

When I dream, I see a developed, prosperous and integrated Africa; whose youth are the drivers of economic growth, social connectivity and political stability. Africa is a youthful populated continent and by 2050, the number is expected to double according to the UN. Therefore, Africa will likely run the global labour market in the half-century or so. This means Africa needs to be ready, set standards and lead. This will be achieved; we the youth of today must be smart, creative, entrepreneurial, risk-takers and innovative to bring the current bulge of youth unemployment to zero. We need to advocate for policies, laws and institutions that create a conducive hub for young people to achieve greatness.

 

This sounds good, but how do you propose we achieve this? Firstly, the governments of the day of each of the 54 countries in Africa need to invest time and resources in the youth, as well as ratifying and implementing all obligations in the African Youth Charter. More importantly, education is the key and fundamental driver; they should invest in Quality Education that ensures no one is left behind at all levels. The late Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of Africa, said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” All our governments should promote and support Technical and Vocational Educational Training initiatives in their countries to help build the capacities of young people for example.

 

In addition, technology is driving the global economy and it is estimated the global labour force will be confronted with new realities with automated gadgets and robotics or more simply, artificial intelligence will likely encompass every aspect of humanity in the next decade. This poses both an opportunity and challenge to Africa and especially the future generation. Digital education is on the ascendency and Africa can’t afford to be left out for which we the youth, are also calling on our leaders, parents and societies to prioritize investment in digital education to ensure that Africa’s youth can also compete in this global economy in the future.

 

Believe in your Youth and give them the freedom and space to dream, take risk and create. Young people have the potential to be great and innovative. Dear African leaders, let your youth see their potential and greatness reflected in your eyes when you tell stories about them.

 

Secondly, African Youth, it is high time we tell our stories. We tell our stories through our culture, food, art, music, traditional games, film, poetry, spoken word, dance, photography and sport. A wise writer once said, “Own your story, live your story and share your story.” This should be a mantra and mandate of young people in Africa. It’s only in sharing our story with the world, that they will understand and see the potential and the role we play in influencing changes in our villages, communities, countries and continent. The entertainment industry in Africa gives a platform for young people like you and I to give voice to the voiceless through art, music, traditional games, film, poetry, spoken word, dance, photography, sport and so much more.

 

Entertainment has the power to bring people together, especially the Youth. An initiative such as Coke Studio Africa has made great strides in Africa’s entertainment industry. The initiative brings together African artists, drummers, production talent from different genres, eras and regions to create authentic Africa sound. Presenting an African sound produced by African talent for global consumption. Who knew this was possible 10 years ago? Entertainment made the impossible possible. Films and Arts have the power to provoke and hold the government accountable while in the process educating the public about different laws, policies, initiatives and medical campaigns. Radio made it possible for information about medical campaigns and initiatives such as the fight against Malaria, Cholera, Ebola and HIV/AIDS to reach people everywhere.

 

To own your story means to live in your truth, the ability to know yourself, strengths, skills, and your dreams. It also means to be humble to accept your weaknesses or limitations. Though, we live in different countries and geographical areas, our experiences, and troubles cut across. Through watching TV or listening to radio, we realize that Nigeria’s youth unemployment crisis is similar to other Africa countries such as Kenya. The same way our challenges are reflected in the TV or the Radio, we can use the same channel to share the success stories of young Africans. This will motivate other young people to believe in their ability to change their situation using the locally available resources. Using the concept of “a lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” a project to transverse different African countries and screen African Youth success projects in the fields of Agriculture especially food security[1], Health, Technology, Environment, and sports will go a long way in motivating the youth that they can do it.

 

To live your story is to inspire yourself to keep going, despite the various challenges you face along the way. Believe in your abilities and potential to influence change. Young people should have the courage to fight for youth rights in their countries and get their governments to listen to their voices and implement policies that will better their lives. Musicians live their story by sharing the stories in their communities through song. Therefore, light your candle in the dark and your light will be seen far and wide.

 

Lastly, embrace technology as a means and tool to drive social change. The majority of the Youth own a mobile phone, have at least one account with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, among others. Let us use these sites to share, empower and engage fellow young people in civic actions, democratic participation and social innovation. Together we can make my dream a reality; it starts with you and me.

 

 

 

 

[1]For example, a young couple have developed the Agribusiness TV to project and showcase successful youth entrepreneurs from Africa to a wider audience

 

 

 

 

Cynthia Meru

I am a freelance writer and photographer and believe that everyone has the potential to do great things, all one needs is an opportunity. Favourite Quote: “Don’t be afraid of getting wet, if you want to be a swimmer.”

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