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The 77%: This is your month

About 770 million people in Africa are aged below 35 years old. Thats 77% of Africans who are potentially the generation who are responsible for the change and progress that Africa needs.

On August 12th, the world will commemorate International Youth Day. What will this mean for Africa? How shall we commemorate this day? Shall we do exactly what is normal – dry conferences and events at which speeches are made by old fogeys? Events at which actual young people will fill the audience seats and present song and dance, showcase art, but make little contribution?

Shall we look forward to observations that Africa’s population is vastly the youngest in the world and with the highest unemployment rates? Shall we listen to trite statements such as the below?

“While efforts and political readiness to act are reflected in the efforts by Government, civil
society and development partners, these efforts still fail to bring the intended benefits to the youths.”

A well-meaning speech by Amb. Attilio Pacifici, last August 12th in Uganda.

Or shall we see youth take centre stage for real and speak their minds? Shall we see young people organise around issues that they actually care about?

I would like to see speeches made by young people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Youtube – on TV even in which they speak truth to power. In which they analyse the measures that government has taken and point out their inadequacy.

I look forward to seeing on that day speeches by young people outlining workable ideas that they have that are beyond “Lets engage with youths throughout the country in an effort to promote peace, social cohesion, vocational training, and access to financial assistance to start up or develop businesses.”

I look forward to such a tide of input, that governments around Africa will pay attention.

I am four years past youth and in a position of some influence. What I will do, is I will listen keenly to what young people have to say. I will look out for ideas of things that people in positions of influence might actually invest in to make real change.

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