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DD Phiri Insight: The young ones

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The Mazongedaba Ngoni (those of Mzimba) have a saying “Inkunzi ese matholeni” literary meaning the bull is among the calves.

This is paraphrased as what you will call the bull of the kraal in future is among what you see as calves today. Therefore take care of the calves.

Behind this epigram is what many people mean when they say children are the leaders of tomorrow. Let us therefore take care of them and prepare them for future roles.

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More than most members of the animal kingdom, human children remain helpless and dependent on parents for many years. For survival they must have a home. The best home for a child is where both its mother and father are dwelling together caring for it and they themselves are living amicably.

A home where parents are constantly bickering damages the child psychologically.

Responsible parents therefore try hard to avoid behaving in a manner that gives bad examples to their children such as drunkenness.

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The best way to prepare a child for the life of an adult is to give them an education. When I try to recall the people I knew during my youth, I notice that those who went to Zimbabwe or South Africa and never came back were mostly illiterate ones. They did not even write back to their parents. Those who were educated went and kept communicating with their parents, most came back. If you want your children to care for you in old age make sacrifices for their education.

Work builds character. We often hear or read of statements denouncing child labour. It is easy to misinterpret this. It does not mean a child should do nothing after school hours but play. Too much time for playing encourages mischief. There are simple chores in the home which the child should be given thereby inculcating in them an idea that the good things of life which we have are a result of work. Let the child develop working habits appropriate to their age.

John H. Johnson publisher of the Ebony magazine in Chicago, USA says in his autobiography Succeeding

Against the Odds that he learned to work before he learned how to play.

Let us be quite sure we know the sort of child labour that is prohibited. It is the labour that disturbs a child’s education especially if the child is employed for wages.

The child should acquire a sound education first, there will be time for wage earning.

When children reach adolescence, they face critical moments for decision making.

Their primary or secondary education has or has not indicated whether their future lies in university education or technical schools. They need vocational counselling. They must acquire excellence in little, meaning deep specialisation or liberal arts. Whatever career you choose these days, it is advisable you learn a second international language besides English. The second language might make it easier for you to find a job in an international organisation where they demand knowledge of both English and French for example.

This brings us to the problem young people face in getting jobs after leaving school or college. Days are gone when once you obtained a degree a vacancy in the public or private was waiting for you and you had to make a choice.

These days a young graduate opens a newspaper sees an advert which says: wanted accountant with at least five years experience; he opens another page they want a public relations officer who has already worked somewhere for a big ogranisation. The college or school leaver whines; how do they expect me to have the experience when I have never worked before? Why don’t they give me the chance to acquire the experience on the job?

It is disheartening when someone with the right qualification but no experience stays idle and has to depend on their parents for financial support. It is extra disturbing when they learn that companies and the public service are retrenching their staff. What should such a person do when society does not seem to care for him?

Self-help is better than self pity. We read of some inspiring biographies of how the Lord opened new doors when the other doors were closed to them. In the early 1930s, a young Nigerian called Benjamin Nnandi Azikiwe after graduating with an MA and MSc in the United States applied to the Nigerian government. He wrote a total of 30 applications including to the government of Liberia and Ethiopia. The reply was the same; no vacancy for you.

Out of the blue he learned that a businessman in the Gold Coast (Ghana) wanted to start a newspaper called African Morning Post and was looking for an editor. Azikiwe had acquired experience editing a college newspaper at Howard University. He applied and was accepted. The paper he edited became a best seller thanks to the sensational style he had learned in America. After two years, he went back to Nigeria and started his own newspaper called West African Pilot. Within 10 years, he had a chain of newspapers all over Nigeria. He lived to be one of the greatest leaders in Africa and a wealthy one.

Try and try again is the priceless advice to the school leaver. The creation of jobs should be a primary concern for all those who aspire for a public office. It is growing economies that breed jobs. In a world economic situation like the present with recessions, to create jobs is a big problem. While entrepreneurship is an option for some, for others it is not. Still a young school leaver should be willing to pick up any job while looking for a better one.

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