Malawi is a youthful nation and this phenomenon applies to the whole of Africa. This is a manifestation that Malawi has the greatest opportunity to grow as it has a ready supply of work force that can help the country make great strides in economic growth.
Of course the unfortunate fact is that there is a growing cancer of joblessness. Though this proves to be a challenge, it is also an opportunity that challenges the youth themselves to break from the shell of reliance on other people to the high hills of economic independence. It is only when you are out of the comfort zone that you start thinking.
It was the challenge of hunger that made a secondary school dropout William Kamkwamba to develop a windmill through unorthodox means.
And a great majority of leaders that led the struggle for the independence of African states from the colonial masters were young people. When Julius Kambarage Nyerere became Chief Minister of Tanganyika, he was only 38 years. Patrice Lumumba led the independence of the then Congo (now DRC) from the oppression of the Belgians at the age of 34. Kenneth Kaunda was 40 when he became president of Zambia. Thomas Sankara was President of Burkina Faso at the age of 34. The respected figure of Egypt politics Gamal Abdel Nasser was 38 years when he took reigns of power in Egypt.
Nelson Mandela was 44 years when he was arrested and imprisoned for treason to later serve 27 years of incarceration in the oppressive apartheid regime. When Samora Machel won the independence of Mozambique from Portugal he was only 42 years. Sir Seretse Khama led Botswana to independence at the age of 45. Mengstu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia was 40 years when he became president. Madibo Keita of Mali was 45 years when he led the independence of Mali from the colonial shackles of France. Even the father of pan Africanism in Africa Kwame Nkrumah was just 48 years when he successfully gained independence for Ghana.
But Africa now is a continent of gigantic proportions. Whereby the youth were very much hungry for success and were visionary for the development of their motherland, the present Africa is to the contrary. The Africa Business magazine of November 2015 explains that at least a dozen countries in Africa went to the polls in the year 2015 to elect their political leaders. The average age of incumbents and victors in these elections is 64. Only one comes in under 50, Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe, at 49.
What is it that made the first generation of African youthful leaders have the power to challenge the colonial oppressor and bring independence to their motherlands? It was the hunger for success. It was a breed of youngsters who wanted more and were ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the countries. This was a generation of youngsters that was visionary and could not take ‘No’ for an answer.
Fifty years down the line in Africa, the present day youth seems more hopeless and is not able to challenge themselves to start life at a different wavelength.
Africa has more graduates now than ever before and they can afford to just sit down on the basis that there are no jobs. In this regard then we have to question the validity of our education system. Why is it that students graduating with skills in irrigation do not translate that into practice by becoming successful farmers? Who are building houses in our locations? It is the builders that learnt the trade from their parents and have never been to technical schools. Those that have been to technical schools wait for the time a company employs them as supervisors for a building project. This has to change.
Our graduates in aquaculture are not even managing their own fish ponds but only waiting for a company to start fish ponds to recruit them. We have the waiting-for-employment-syndrome that limits us from our capability to put what we learnt into practice. As environmental degradation is hitting hard with desertification posing a threat, our graduates in forestry cannot even utilise land accorded to them by their parents to establish private forests for businesses. They all look forward to becoming district forestry officers or take other positions in the private sector.
Time has dawned for the youth to start looking at things differently. We have to appreciate that there will never be a time when the job market will be able to shallow every job seeker. It is time to be innovative, to do the unthinkable, to have the hunger and the drive for success.
A group of graduate teachers can form their own evening private lessons and tutor students on part time basis. This is an opportunity. It does not make sense for them to complain of having failed to be employed as teachers when they can be creative and make more money and eventually help in improving the education sector.
The only way the youth can get recognition as a vital resource in the country is when they decide to challenge the normal thinking and start doing things differently and successfully. Only then can the corporate sector appreciate their value and utilise them even through outsourcing means. The youth can even break into political and corporate circles only when they show that they are objective, visionary and hard working. Nothing will come on a silver platter to them. Recognition has to be gained.
A vibrant writer who gives a great insight on hot topics and issues