Current Affairs

OPINION: The state of Youth Leadership today

n 16 June 1976 high-school students in Soweto, South Africa, protested for better education. Police fired teargas and live bullets into the marching crowd killing innocent people and ignited what is known as "The Soweto Uprising", the bloodiest episode of riots between police and protesters since the 1960's. Photo: Gallo Images.
n 16 June 1976 high-school students in Soweto, South Africa, protested for better education. Police fired teargas and live bullets into the marching crowd killing innocent people and ignited what is known as "The Soweto Uprising", the bloodiest episode of riots between police and protesters since the 1960's. Photo: Gallo Images.
The African Youth Charter celebrates over a decade of existence; however, it is also experiencing a turning point moment as we the youth are called to champion its ideals
2017 is the year dedicated towards engaging the youth demographic for effective investments to have the youth enhanced in their contribution towards the profitability of the continent.
We also have the great opportunity to get our voice heard on a regular basis in the mainstream of our continent in order to have respective parties alerted to the challenges of our generation.
 
This time also calls for honest introspection into the actual good being done, and figuring out ways to deal with our deficiencies in our efforts to develop our continent.
This presentation is thus a call for us as youth leaders and innovators to engage this conversation with the honest intention of collective resolution to the impediments to our realisation of the Africa we want to leave for the generations that will succeed our legacy.
 
Last year, I had the honour of being hosted for a conversation on the relevance of Ubuntu in leadership and policy development in Africa.
I highlighted the need for us to realize the power in the proverb of Ubuntu which is directly translated, “A person is a person because of the people.” Therefore, the quality of our humanity is measured by the quality of life lived by the people around us.
Therefore, it is essential that we as Youth leaders engage one another in the spirit of service and refuse the temptation of seeking to be chiefs without having set an example of selfless service.  
 
This principle is what have given us the quality of leadership such as the one displayed by President Nelson Mandela, President Julius Nyerere, President Patrice Lumumba, President Jerry Rawlings and President Thomas Sankara among many others.
These men took on the role of service first before being appointed to any form of prestigious office. They took on the duty of service when it was too dangerous and ridiculed to be considered desirable.
Some of them served even to the point of death, and I’m very certain that if the clock was brought back and they had to choose paths once more, they would have done the same thing again.
 
 We as a generation need to regain such quality of service as we find ourselves in a circle of constantly meeting for the drafting of youth positions without commitment to ensuring their grassroots implementation.
Yet, when we appear years later at another convention, we seek to speak out of credible frustration and yet our hands are clean of any mud involved with the hard work of trying to lift our people up from poverty and obscurity.
I believe that the concept of Ubuntu calls us to lift up the standard for our people and deliver effectively to the constituencies we represent.
 
We are indeed at a very crucial juncture in Africa’s development. Now more than ever, we have the power in our hands to become the change that we want to see.
I believe that with the embracing of the innovation of us the youth, who happen to be the majority citizens of Africa, the deliverables of Agenda 2063 will be realized. The African Youth Charter celebrates over a decade of existence; however, it is also experiencing a turning point moment as we the youth are called to champion its ideals. 
 
Let us continue to utilize this diplomatic platform as a tool to inspire one another through hard work, dedication and determination to realize an Africa where the free movement of people, capital, goods and services will result in significant increases in trade and investments amongst African countries rising to unprecedented levels, and strengthen Africa’s place in global trade.
 
Moreover, I believe that the power of a united effort beyond the convention room is most important now more than ever before. We can no longer afford to work in silos.
The moment we redeem ourselves from the personality and image cult and seek to do what’s “best for business”, we will see greater levels of milestones being attained.
 
Let us therefore approach this task before us as youths with the reverence due to it, and lean towards wisdom and consideration of the pressures at hand. We cannot afford to be apathetic and moreover, we cannot afford to marginalize one another.
 
We are indeed the change that Africa has been looking for. Our power is in our youth. Our motivation is change. Unity is our shield for the challenges ahead of us. Our continent awaits our manifestation. Let us assemble and strategize towards practical and meaningful initiatives for our people, for our nations and for our Africa.
 
Let Africa be great!

Author: Patson Malilsa

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About the author

Mashudu Malema