By Sunday Oyinloye
The President of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance and opposition leader in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa says he sees a new Nigeria driven by the youth and challenged young people to dream big even as he launches #CalltoCourage
Chamisa who became the youngest Parliamentarian in Zimbabwe at the age of 24 and youngest Minister at the age of 31 challenged Nigerian youth to think outside the box and dream big for themselves and their country.
‘We can’t just be a continent of consumption without production. Africa cannot be a consuming continent. Things must be made and produced in Africa. Let’s rise up and take up the lion’s share of the market. For Nigeria to remain competitive in the future, Nigerian youth and African youth must be prepared to be disruptive, imaginative and competitive in both local and global markets providing cutting edge solutions and products” he said
The 43 year-old politician lamented corruption and leadership failure in Africa adding that the future of the continent is in the hands of the youth.
In his words: “We should not continue to ride on the tired excuses of blaming the old order. Leaders have abandoned the post-independence transformation agenda. They continue on the rhetoric of fighting an invisible enemy.
“Our leaders spend all our resources to hoard arms of war to fight their own citizens demanding change. Our leaders abuse state resources for their own selfish ends whilst our people wallow in poverty and die of curable diseases.
“Our leaders have abandoned the agenda of equality and protection of human rights. Ours today is to change our own situation and narrative, to author a new path and destination. We must defeat poverty, inequality and unemployment. We must promote the respect for human rights, good governance and constitutionalism.”
“Today, Africa faces one and one problem only. The African problem is a problem of leadership. Everything we see in shortage is but a shortage of leadership. Today, our continent is buffeted and bedeviled by health and education challenges
“The majority of our young people are struggling to put food on the table, let alone improve their education and skills to have better economic prospects. Even those who possess educational qualifications enter the abyss of unemployment and few job prospects.
“This desperation is a driver in the bus of vulnerability, which has many destinations: destinations as extreme as slavery, manipulation, drug and substance abuse, and death.
“Outside of economic inclusion and structural transformation, economic development benefits only accrue to a few. Economic development without democratic governance and fundamental structural transformation is not sustainable
“It is simply a ticking time bomb; It’s both shameful and ridiculously absurd that a continent that ranks as the most endowed in natural resources both above and beneath the ground is full of hopelessly poor and starving people. Our collective conscience as African leaders, scholars, policy experts, activists, artists, business people and citizens cannot allow this to continue. We cannot ignore the plight of our young”.
The opposition leader who was a keynote speaker at The Bridge Leadership Foundation 10t Anniversary, in Abuja challenged African youth to think big and dream big stressing “A new Africa needs you, a new Africa depends on big ideas rather than big men.”
Again, to African youth and Nigerians in particular Chamisa said “When we think of what we endeavor to be for the future, we must think first of how our personal ambitions are a cog in the pursuit of the broader generation agenda that confronts us.
“It does not matter whether we are in medical sciences or in humanities, the values remain the same. Africanism, self-consciousness, courage, hard work, sacrifice, commitment, discipline and dedication to one’s own continent and people”
For Nigerian youth who might have interest in politics, he has this to tell them: “never allow yourselves to be poor versions of the old and bad we are fighting. Leadership is service and sacrifice.
“You are never too young to run, but you must never be too impatient to learn. Build your capacity. It is so crucial to stay grounded, embedded and connected with people.
“Never underestimate the power of connection. It is only through connection that empathy is shown. Always appreciate that your networks determine your net worth. Reading is leading, when you read widely you lead wisely.
“Approach difference with dignity and don’t listen to those who say politics is dirty. I have learnt that it is the players in politics who are dirty not the game of politics itself. And we can change that narrative too”
Chamisa is however optimistic that Nigerian youth have the capacity to birth a new prosperous country that will be the pride of Africa.
Full text of President Nelson Chamisa’s address to Nigerian youth at The Bridge Leadership Foundation 10t Anniversary, in Abuja
Theme; The Audacious Youth: Leading societal change
Thank you for the invitation to be a keynote speaker at The Bridge Leadership Foundations 11th Annual Career Day Conference. It is also a celebration of the Organization’s 10th Anniversary and the 60th Celebration of the Founder to this great idea.
I answer to the name Nelson Chamisa. I’m an African from Zimbabwe. I’m leader of the alternative in Zimbabwe. I’m 43 years young. At 43, I have been audacious to lead societal change in different leadership capacities. I’ve been a student leader having been chosen the Zimbabwe National Student Union Secretary General at 21 in 1999. I became a youth leader after being elected a national youth leader in the opposition MDC in 2000. I have been a democracy activist and human rights defender, fighting for justice, fundamental freedoms, rights, dignity and equality since 2000, having been part of the constitutional movement demanding a new constitution for Zimbabwe through the National Constitutional Assembly. I’ve served as a parliamentarian at 24 years, having been elected the youngest parliamentarian in the Parliament of Zimbabwe then. I’ve served as the Parliamentary representative of Zimbabwe in ACP / EU joint parliament in Brussels, Belgium. I’ve been a cabinet minister of Zimbabwe in the inclusive government, again being the youngest minister as Minister of ICT at age 31. I’m a transformational leader. I’m a democrat.
I was opposition MDC’s Deputy President to Morgan Tsvangirai at the time of his tragic demise in 2018. I was immediately requested to fill in his leadership shoes just two months before the election in 2018. Prior to that, I had also served as party Spokesperson and national Organizer. I was then chosen as the opposition MDC ALLIANCE Presidential candidate in 2018 general elections. This was an alliance of opposition parties. We won the election but the ruling party was declared the winner, which we disputed because we were sure it was rigged.
We challenged the result, but the constitutional court unjustifiably dismissed our application. To this day, we have a legitimacy crisis arising out of a disputed and contested Presidency in Zimbabwe. Important to note is the fact that when I ran for Presidency at 40, it was not just an isolated act, but a product of a process. It has been a 20 year journey, not just an event. I’m a lawyer, being an advocate with the Advocates of Zimbabwe. I am also a marketer and political scientist having studied political science and international relations. I also studied governance, democracy and rule of law at Stanford University in the USA. I’m a family man married to one wife and a born again Christian.
I’m passionate about transformational leadership, youth inclusion, participation and the NEW Africa. I believe in the idea of transformation. The African idea is the IDEA of TRANSFROMATION AND ACCELERATED MODERNIZATION. I am an African. Africa is my pride and my home. My Africa is a great source of inspiration. My Africa is a place of greatness. My Africa is a place where things happen. My Africa is a place of possibilities. My Africa is home to everybody who lives in it. My Africa is not just a continent or a geographical expression; rather it is an expression of a collective aspiration, an idea that transcends geographical boundaries and demarcations. I have learnt many lessons in leadership over the years. My personal experience has taught me and teaches not only of the treachery of politics but of the opportunities of transformation and why audacious young people must not wait for the handover of power or for the older generation to hand them anything. In this leadership journey, I have learnt that people around power don’t always operate in and out of good faith . In fact, they are often persuaded by Will to power rather than will to change or transform. Young people must be pivoted, moved and motivated by will to transform.
Retaining the will to transform is a function of principles and consistency. It is vital for audacious young people to radically change and fundamentally transform society. If you are young and not a revolutionary you are dead or you are dying. The leadership journey has helped me to define and refine vision – that clear mental picture -and Values, and Consciousness, and Character. I have learnt that whereas popularity may take to the top, it is consistency and character that keeps you there. I have also learnt that discipline, principle and consistency to stay the course are all a function of character. At all material times, audacious young people must be a conscious group of the enlightened based on values with a clear vision to shape the destiny of nations and society.
Audacious young people, never allow yourselves to be poor versions of the old and bad we are fighting. Leadership is service and sacrifice. You are never too young to run, but you must never be too impatient to learn. Build yourself. Capacity builds. It is so crucial to stay grounded, embedded and connected with people. Never underestimate the power of connection. It is only through connection that empathy is shown. Always appreciate that your networks determine your net worth. Reading is leading. And when you read widely you lead wisely. Change the culture, approach difference with dignity and don’t listen to those who say politics is dirty. I have learnt that it is the players in politics who are dirty not the game of politics itself. And we can change that narrative too. It is vital to adopt evidence based leadership and management by data. Science is the anchor of modern politics. It is in this context, that I’ve been asked to happily share my thoughts and perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that exist in developing the African economy and the role thst audacious young people can play in leading societal change, across different sectors to realize the Africa we want. This is the Nigeria’s dream as well.
Nigeria stands on the threshold of what could be the greatest transformation in history. By 2030, it will be one of the few countries in the world with a majority of teeming youths making up the total population. Today, I have been asked to give my personal perspective on the theme “The Audacious Youth: Leading Societal Change”. When I saw this theme, a lot came to my mind. However, I was never in any doubt about the key questions confronting the young people of Africa. That is: What is an audacious youth? A courageous youth .What is the role of audacious young people in building a new Africa? Courage to make a difference, that is, impact.What is the end game for this generation of young people? Transformation and modernization. Audacity is that extraordinary showing of a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks or a series of audacious takeovers and takeoffs.
Way back in time, I visited the USA. It was my first time to be in the US. I arrived at Dulles Airport. Fortunately, there was a driver who was waiting for me at the airport. He was originally from Eritrea. We drove for over forty minutes. I was restless as I thought that the journey from the airport to the hotel where I was going would just be a short one. I asked the brother who was driving if he was sure that we were not lost. Hilariously, he pulled the car off the road and smiled before asking me if I knew where I was going or had been there before. I replied that it was my first time and had never been where I was going. And wisdom came for free when he said, “Mr Chamisa, It’s not possible to get lost if you don’t know where you are going”.
I’m glad we know where we are going. We are clear about the picture of the future. If you know where you are going it’s impossible to get lost. Where we have come from informs us where we are going. Our past shapes and informs our future. Remember; It is impossible to have audacious youth without audacious goals.
Big Hairy Audacious Goals. We will democratize Africa. We will occupy corridors of decision making. We will crush, smash and squash dictatorship. We will silence the gun. We will end corruption. We will defeat exploitation. We will end corruption. We will transform and modernize Africa. We will build strong institutions. We will make leaders accountable and responsible. We will fight injustice. We will unite Africa. We will make Africa great! We will lead the world.
Globally, young people are helping to drive national competitiveness, economic growth, and achievement of social development goals. The future is young, and bright. So must be the players. The biggest companies today on the stock market are tech companies, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft among others. These companies are raking in billions from the youths but are the same youths making even millions? We can’t just be the targeted market to consume. We understand our market dynamics and needs better. We need more Mark Zuckerbergs from Africa. We can’t just be a continent of consumption without production. Africa cannot be a consuming continent. Things must be made and produced in Africa. Let’s rise up and take up the lion’s share of the market. For Nigeria to remain competitive in the future, Nigerian youth and African youth must be prepared to be disruptive, imaginative and competitive in both local and global markets providing cutting edge solutions and products.
On the Governance front, youth participation has continued to be on the increase, with audacious young people demanding recognition and to play an active role in the policy-making of the country.
This moment of global crisis calls for a total reformation of manners, our thinking, operations, and governance models to embrace change. Now is the time for new leadership, new models of governance, and new ideas to accelerate African development for the unleashing of A NEW AFRICA. Youth Inclusion and participation in Governance and policymaking should not be seen as charity or a favour for young people. It is a key ingredient and critical necessity for the continent’s renaissance and development. Young people must be the transformers and drivers of change, being co-creators and end-users of policies and governance. As a result of a new wave of change, audacious youths are taking the lead in creating local and global strides. Amongst nations, states, civic organizations, and companies, one can find initiatives involving youths. These are in decision-making processes, in building projects, and in tackling challenging issue’s.
The audacious youth are no longer playing second fiddle, and this demystifies the norm that has been in existence for decades. There are more Young CEOs across the continent than before, and more great youth-led initiatives and organizations. The audacious young people are embracing creative and innovative approaches to solving societal problems. However, we still need more youths to play a critical role in moving the countries and the continent at large to the next level, and to establish themselves as key players in nation-building. African youth has always been audacious. The liberation struggles, township youths, Soweto uprising, the youth in colleges and university campuses have defined and shaped discourses and narratives that lay trajectories for nations on the continent.
Since time immemorial, Africa has produced the most audacious and vibrant youths globally who are leading change across various sectors. A vast potential of youths are consistently making an effort to break cycles of poverty, conflict, hunger, and inequality that have plagued us on the continent. Our heritage and history is replete with audacity of young people. Our forebears shifted the landscape of our nations in their youth. Like David, they faced Goliath with an audacious conviction, and in many instances, they were victorious. This lineage of powerful young leaders goes beyond our liberation movements to centuries ago. Whereas we have a great people who fought and founded this continent, let us be the great people who fight and preserve, prosper and transform this continent
The audacious youth we seek are the informal traders, the teachers, the families cooking meals to feed young children once a day and the independent candidates who run for office in elections. In Kenya, Wawira Njiru founded Food for Education to address inequality in the schooling system, since many children did not have regular meals. This initiative has provided more than 300,000 meals to Kenyan children since its inception. In South Africa, Mandisa Dyantyi and a group of passionate young people are pursuing a social contract with elected officials to ensure access to water and sanitation for the poorest communities. Her work with the Social Justice Coalition aims at improving policing and the criminal justice system, while their Local Government Programme drives their agenda for informal settlement services and infrastructure.
In West Africa, YIAGA Africa’s team, led by my brother Samson Itodo and Cynthia Mbamalu, have been agents of change – raising awareness amongst youth about the opportunities and urgent need for their participation in political processes, whilst also advocating for legislation that ensures this participation. Aya Chebbi has been a prominent voice in amplifying the powerful solutions youth are driving from the ground up. In South Africa, we had the ‘Fees must fall’ campaign largely driven by the young people of our continent.
In Malawi, we had the Malawi human rights defenders In DRC, Sudan Egypt young people are movers and shakers, shaping the future of our continent. Citizen-led movements to bring cases of state capture and corruption into the light are important. Our youth are leading these movements and their work must be supported to remove the veil of secrecy that enables this level of impunity. Nigeria has many examples of youth leading change. These include the #EndSARSMovement, which resisted police brutality, to the Not Too Young To Run and Ready To Run Campaigns, led by YIAGA Africa. Women are currently leading efforts to rehabilitate former Boko Haram militants into their communities. This government-led programme has rehabilitated over 1000 militants northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
In all this, we have leant that young people do all the heavy lifting, the dying and endure the pain and yet in the end, the game is defined by the old people, Are we where we should be? No. But we are definitely on the right path. Project Pakati, a programme coordinated by the African Leadership Institute, has stressed the need to give more young people a seat at the table in critical decision making. You Lead in East Africa, are driving a powerful agenda to ensure peer-to-peer accountability when young people DO enter positions of influence in order to support VALUE BASED LEADERSHIP.
Without value based leadership, current opportunities including the potential of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and the concerted efforts to drive a transformative industrialisation agenda for Africa by Africans, will fall on dry ground. Ultimately, in order to lead lasting change, one has to have a deep conviction, integrity and self-awareness. The further we drift from our inner truth, the more swayed we become to the tides of greed and corruption, which threaten to capture our talents, influence and potential to drive change. Leadership starts within. Public leadership is motivated by the will to promote the public good, the will to transform.
THE AFRICAN CHALLENGE
THE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
Today Africa faces one and one problem only. The African problem is a problem of leadership. Everything we see in shortage is but a shortage of leadership. Today, our continent is buffeted and bedivilled by health and education challenges. UNICEF notes that despite global progress in reducing child mortality rates over the past few decades, an estimated 5.2 million children under age five died in 2019—more than half of those deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. UNESCO reveals the shocking education situation, where of all regions in the world – sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion.
Over one-fifth of children between the ages of about 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14. According to UIS data, almost 60% of youth between the ages of about 15 and 17 are not in school. In their words, “Without urgent action, the situation will likely get worse as the region faces a rising demand for education due to a still-growing school-age population. “The reality we are confronted with is that our young are the people of Africa. According to the African Union, the continent’s population is estimated to be more than a billion people. Of this, about 65 percent are under the age of 35. At the 2017 High Level Dialogue on Democracy, Human Rights and Governance, hosted by the AU’s African Governance Architecture, we learnt that each year between 2015 and 2035, there will be half a million more 15-year olds than the year before. The SDGs, our very own Agenda 2063 and many national development plans have made a commitment to address some of the socioeconomic challenges I have highlighted. The majority of our young people are struggling to put food on the table, let alone improve their education and skills to have better economic prospects. Even those who possess educational qualifications enter the abyss of unemployment and few job prospects.
This desperation is a driver in the bus of vulnerability, which has many destinations: destinations as extreme as slavery, manipulation, drug and substance abuse, not to mention certain death .Outside of economic inclusion and structural transformation, economic development benefits only accrue to a few. Economic development without democratic governance and fundamental structural transformation is not sustainable. It is simply a ticking time bomb! It’s both shameful and ridiculously absurd that a continent that ranks as the most endowed in natural resources both above and beneath the ground is full of hopelessly poor and starving people! Our collective conscience as African leaders, scholars, policy experts, activists, artists, business people and citizens cannot allow this to continue. We CANNOT ignore the plight of our young.
Today, it means vaccine roll out during the Covid 19 pandemic is unequal. Western nations have strongly opposed Africa’s attempts to change this trend. Quartz Africa recently published that although 3 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the world so far, 1 billion have gone to rich countries, which have a population of about 14% of the world, while mid- and low-income ones have only received leftovers.
Covax, a global coalition that was set up by the World Health Organization and several nonprofits to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries, has so far delivered less than 90 million doses of the 2 billion it was supposed to deliver by the end of 2021. Strive Masiyiwa, a Zimbabwean business leader and founder of Econet Global, blames this failure to deliver vaccines on rich countries.
With all the universities and exceptional learning institutions on this continent from Cape to Cairo – we must not continue to depend on aid for solutions, for vaccines, for food, for technology and development. We must invest our minds and ideas to our own development. Young people must ask themselves the simple question – what am I doing to better the lives of my people?
THE CORRUPTION CHALLENGE
The greatest vice destroying nations in Africa is corruption. Corruption is now a religion in Africa. Most leaders have been caught with sugar granules on their mouths. Our problems are of our own creation. We loot our own resources and squander our future through corruption and store away the ill-gotten monies in off shore accounts. The shocking figures of illicit financial deals flowing out of Africa are evidence of this. We have all the raw materials but imports even tooth picks.
If we seek to shift the global landscape, which as we know, is not constructed to include equal opportunity for Africans, African economies and African governance or thought leadership, we need to embrace our identity. Our history is that of unity and a single borderless continent without the current colonial boundaries. This is an endowment we must reestablish as young people of this continent. Franz Fanon warned us that political emancipation from colonial powers, would not necessarily deal with the colonisation of the mind. Our minds need emancipation from the shackles of oppression, exclusion, self-hate and all limitations. We become what we believe of ourselves. We must overcome the imposter syndrome that dulls our voices and tells us we are not qualified, we are not ready, we are not able to make a change. I believe the time has come to renew and embrace, once again, the Pan African Dream for integration and the opportunities this holds for our economies through the building of regional value chains in strategic sectors. This work of building regional value chains has to be driven by our indigenous knowledge systems that are driving informal trade and finding ways to open up this space for young people and their businesses to access these value chains.
The time has come to identify and empower the bright sparks amongst our youth that are driving change. Governments, political parties, civil society and business have an important role to play in creating platforms for these sparks to become raging fires that inspire and activate more young people to shape their futures. We have to move from being knowledge consumers, to knowledge producers. For far too long, we have designed our systems on the back of colonial education systems, theories of development and similarly, the outlook of possibilities has been shaped by these perspectives. Classifications such as First and Third World, Modernisation, Developing/Developed, must be challenged. How we define our aspirations and the path to realise these aspirations, needs our unique ideas and experiences. We cannot simply copy and paste what has been implemented in other contexts. Instead, let us work with what we have on the ground, whilst also embracing the opportunities that innovations such as digitisation and artificial intelligence hold for us to leapfrog our economic transformation. Economic development on its own will not be able to sustain change. How we manage political accountability and democratic transitions, in the midst of many worrying trends, is of critical importance.
DEALING WITH THE DEBT QUESTION
STATE CAPTURE and Authoritarian consolidation
The independence of institutions like our Electoral Management Bodies and judiciary, must be maintained and protected. From Eswatini, to Uganda, Zimbabwe, Cameroun, and many other African countries, we have seen violent crushing of our youth as they demand better leadership. State capture is the dark hand that will cripple our ability to transform our societies.
Africa cannot be turned into an outpost of tyranny. Those running it are ruining it. The forces of autocracy are on the rampage turbocharged in repression and oppression. We are witnessing the scourge of unaccountable power. We have private power militarists that either operates above the law or outside the law. Africa was to certain extent a product of an armed struggle. The cornerstone of the armed struggle was civilian control. Absence of rules, laws and regulations of armed outfits will reduce them to being mere banditry outfits. Such is the danger we see in other countries where militarism run the risk of negating the gains of independence and liberation. We are witnessing the rise of the phenomenon of Elections without change. This is a dangerous phenomenon on the African continent particularly in countries where the opposition never wins. Elections are rigged and disputed producing unstable and illegitimate governments.
Coloniality, the rising new imperialism.
If colonization by the west was wrong, colonization by any side east, north is equally wrong. Fighting colonialism, imperialism, slavery and any form of subjugation is imperative. Self-determination, sovereignty and self-governance is critical. African struggles must be rooted in the African worker, African women and African youth who must be the pivot of all the struggles. Bread and butter issues are key. God did not create us to eat and die but to leave a legacy. A legacy of a great African continent. We need a shared African dream, a shared African promise, Shared values, Strong institutions and integration. The new Africa will be anchored on Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Creating the Next Generation of African Entrepreneurs: What will it take: New education system: Focusing on problem solving, blended and multidisciplinary learning, financial literacy, technology literacy, leadership principles, and acquisition of capabilities & competencies.Society must produce and celebrate entrepreneurs, innovators, job creators and business builders. We must celebrate patents, intellectual property, and risk-taking.
Embrace the 4IR (e.g. AI, Big Data, Block Chain Technologies, Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Everything (IoE), Nanotechnology, Autonomous Vehicles & Drones)
Enabling environment within countries; good governance, enabling government policy, macroeconomic stability, and basic infrastructure – water, power, transport network, ICT, and housing.
The African continent’s unfinished business of Decolonisation, Development and Democratisation (3Ds).
Decolonization- Africa still experiences coloniality of power, coloniality of resource ownership, and coloniality of the mind with leaders mimicking the exclusive and oppressive governance architecture of the erstwhile colonisers. Coloniality has survived colonialism. Therefore coloniality is a fundamental problem in Africa and decoloniality is a necessary task that remains unfinished.
Development that I envisage for Africa is one that is all-encompassing and inclusive of Africans from all walks of life and one that encapsulates freedom of choice. Todaro is clear that development in all societies must have at least the following three objectives: “to increase the availability of basic needs; to provide more jobs and education to generate self-esteem; and to expand choice in order to free the individual and nation from dependence” . Fukuyama concurs that to be able to choose should be one of the cornerstones of development. Amartya Sen also sees development as that which advances freedom in terms of social democratic ideals.
The liberation struggles were about freedoms and democracy. Universal suffrage; one person one vote maxim. We of Africa state that, whereas we have missed many opportunities and neglected obvious advantages in the past, the future belongs to us. We Africans are the future of the world. We are the face of the future, the future’s new face. The height of Africa is the height of its least and shortest citizens. The development of Africa is defined by its least developed nation and people. We of Africa need clean portable and running water, access to food, access to affordable first class health and education, sovereign exploitation of our own resources and wealth. We of Africa deserve first class infrastructure motorways roads, bridges, energy, airports, shopping malls, housing, broadband, internet exchange points, internet of things, TV stations, factories and industries. Our great ancient civilizations, cultures and traditions are a rich source of our glory and an inexhaustible resource unto posterity and infinity. This African soil is home to the greats of all times. This African soil is home to Mandela, Sankara, Nkrumah Toure, Nyerere, Machel Biko. Think of it- the Africa of today is the sum totality of the legacy of colonialism. The Berlin conference boundaries, the alien culture, style and education Having put humiliation and defeat behind us, as we declare to bury our past hurts, we must lead Africa to a better future and brighter day. Nowhere is the day more vivid . Nowhere is the continent more exciting, glorious and rewarding. Until the heart of Africa becomes the heart of tolerance, amity conviviality and peace May the flame of our glory remain aglow beyond the bounds of time
CHANGE IS INEVITABLE.
But young people may ask, what is this change and what is the role of audacious young Africans in that change. There is no doubt that change is here. Change speaks to the way we govern ourselves. There is a relationship between good governance and development. Change speaks to how we must pursue democracy and eradicate autocracy. How we must hold free, fair and credible elections that affords our people their right to self-determination. Change relates to how we treat ourselves as human beings. We cannot say we are the authors of dignity Ubuntu/unhu yet we live in anarchy and violence. Guns must be silenced. Young people must lead in peace-building. Change relates to our quality of life. We cannot have all the natural resources and beautiful environment yet dying of curable diseases and living on donations. Change demands that we all prosper through equitable allocation or wealth, beneficiation of our natural resources and sustainable development.Change relates to our mindset.
We cannot be a continent of young people yet young people remain marginalized from key issues of the day. Whilst we must celebrate those who are leading the way in various sectors, change must mean that the youth must take centre-stage in the economy, governance, social development and continental affairs. However change cannot happen by itself. Young people must lead this new African renaissance. Change cannot happen without courage. The liberation movement was not led by cowards but strong young men and women. Courage does not mean violence. It means that we must resist the temptation of helplessness, hopelessness and haplessness because of the current state of affairs but to rise to the demands of the new Africa. Courage is the ability to persuade one another on a new path for our continent without the fear of losing the current false comforts. It is the ability to disrupt the status quo without creating anarchy. Change calls upon the young people of this continent to be innovative and creative in finding solutions to our challenges. We must find African solutions to our African problems. However, this slogan will be hollow if we continue to do the same thing yet expecting different results. We must find new ways of fostering good governance, protecting human rights, ensuring participating by all young people and building sustainable African economies.
BIRTHING A NEW AFRICA
Does the new generation have a consensus of what the new Africa must look like? What is the new agenda? In my view we have gone past the history of colonialism. We should not continue to ride on the tired excuses of blaming the old order. Leaders have abandoned the post-independence Transformation agenda. They continue on the rhetoric of fighting an invisible enemy. Our leaders spend all our resources to hoard arms of war to fight their own citizens demanding change. Our leaders abuse state resources for their own selfish ends whilst our people wallow in poverty and die of curable diseases. Our leaders have abandoned the agenda of equality and protection of human rights. Ours today is to change our own situation and narrative, to author a new path and destination. We must defeat poverty, inequality and unemployment. We must promote the respect for human rights, good governance and constitutionalism. So, some of you may say, why is this important for today’s occasion? I would like to assure the young people of this continent that individualism does not pay. A career that has no meaning to the lives of our people is not worth living for. A call is made to all young Africans to think big and dream big. A new Africa needs you. A new Africa depends on big ideas rather than big men.
Therefore, when we think of what we endeavor to be for the future, we must think first of how our personal ambitions are a cog in the pursuit of the broader generation agenda that confronts us. It does not matter whether we are in medical sciences or in humanities. The values remain the same. Africanism, self-consciousness, courage, hard work, sacrifice, commitment, discipline and dedication to one’s own continent and people.
THE CASE FOR TRANSFORMATION
Transformation in any nation and any generation is led by the youth .We must transform our mindset and heart-set and values set. Ideals are from the heart .Ideas are from the mind .Transformational leadership; thinking outside box.
The perpetual quest and incessant motivation to be different, job creators not job seekers, employers not employees .Being leaders, who are based on what they want to be versus the doing leaders who are based on what they want to do. Thermostat leaders and not thermometer leaders .Takers not givers; transformers are givers not takers
We need an Intergenerational consensus led by the young. Transform Systems of governance Transform Structures of governance .Transform Strategy of governance .Transform Institutions of governance
Leadership Transformation that lead to;
.We decolonize farming agriculture
We decolonize education
We decolonize commerce
We need a 360 degrees shift
Transform social relations, economic relations, political relations cultural relations
In order to change something be audacious
Audacious.. Intentional, deliberate
.Take the plunge, take risks .Young people are passengers not drivers. Vibrancy and traction comes from youthfulness.
Business has been taken by the young. The world is run by the young. All Revolutions are driven by the young. Technological Revolution, business, industrial, agriculture, political and information revolution.
But remember, the skill to lead is as important as a will to lead. Build capacity to lead, administer, manage, build, formulate policy, define the future and deliver it.
We must develop leaders and a leadership .The generation, regeneration and development of leaders must be a continuous enterprise
We must fight in our countries and on the continent all legislative bottlenecks, legal barriers and constitutional impediments inhibiting participation in politics, business and economics as we drive societal change.
We are the audacious generation and we can do it. We can take the land. Don’t freak the giants. If you are not too young to vote you can’t be too young to be voted for. Young people go and occupy all the chambers. Chambers of the executive and cabinet, chambers of parliament, chambers of local authorities as Councillors, chambers of civil society and community programs , chambers of commerce and business . Politics drives economics and economics pivots politics.
Solidarity is key. We are not as separated as we think. We are not as different. The liberation Consensus was a cape to Cairo clarion call Liberation consensus. Transformation consensus Power, just like opportunity is not given but is demanded. It is never a gift but something that must be claimed.
Young people must be ready to propose beyond the ability to oppose.
Audacious youth must provide servant leadership – a culture needed in public service.
An audacious youth ought not to be blind to the strength of strategy and foresight.
Audacious youth must not be Crisispreneurs and Conflictprenuers
Resistance must carry within it the inbuilt alternative statecraft, craft literacy and craft competence
Long-lasting change will require young people to act local but think global. What may look like small gains leads to greater change over time. These are giant steps. The challenges we face today require courage, resilience, and deep inner conviction. I want to end my input by launching #CalltoCourage to all our young people across tribes, geographic spaces, economic standing, languages, and political affiliation. A call to courage to radically transform how we do business, how we govern and how we dream. A call to Courage that sets up an African Renaissance fund and a New Africa fund to support youth development and capacitation. A Call to Courage not to give up in the midst of adversity, a call to courage to join forces with other people, old and young, who help us to move forward. A call to courage to believe that our present realities are not a handicap or prison, they are the motivation we have to build a better tomorrow for the next generation. We are all a part of something much greater than ourselves.
Young people of Africa, nothing can stop us. We are a raging train and a roaring lion. The will to fight is essential. Steve Biko had this to say; “It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die”
Let’s keep fighting. Nothing comes without a fight, without courage! Nothing beats acts of courage. Our duty is to fight.
We have Generational mandate- “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.” ― Frantz Fanon.
Great people make and write great history. Let us write history. Let’s fix the future. Let’s make Africa great. It’s time. The time is now. The journey begins
May God bless you and foster in and among you, the big ideas that will change our continent.
One Africa, one people
God bless Nigeria.
God bless Africa.
God bless the young people of Africa.