The Covid 19 pandemic has brought with it many opportunities and challenges for all. Others are suddenly aware of their potential and creativity, new skills are being learnt and old ones are being refined. For me it has been a time for me to reflect and think of ways in which I can contribute more meaningfully to youth development. I have also had a chance to interact more with upper sixth students from across Zimbabwe who are involved in the NBCC on a WhatsApp group for team Captains. The engagement with youth has got me thinking. I will address one questions that has been on my mind recently.
What is young people’s obligation to their development?
I received from Ecobank, a newsletter in which they chronicled the business exploits of Patrice Motsepe. The business mogul is already wealthy beyond imagination and can afford to spend the rest of his life relaxing in the Bahamas. But he says “I innovate or go extinct.” This commitment to lifelong innovation and development is what made me stop and think. What are young people doing to improve their lives and their place in society? Are they making their voices heard? How many have attempted projects to improve their own communities and how many are looking beyond basic academic knowledge?
To answer to these and many other questions that are floating in my head, I advance that young people must stand up and take risks. The business moguls that we see today have not had a silver spoon handed to them, they have suffered, toiled and lost many nights of sleep to get to where they are. They have not been scared to risk it all. Some have made investments that have let them broke only to try again. Success is about pain, risk and suffering. It does not come over night but requires a commitment like that voiced by Patrice Motsepe. As young people it is important to know that with success there is no miracle, life is not stopping but is continuously evolving and moving forward. It’s either we adapt and adopt, innovate and build a future we want.
As a teacher I am always asking my learners what kind of future they would want to see. This question, I have realised, is not the right question. Instead I should be asking “what are you doing now to prepare and contribute to the future you want?” The first question is wrong because it fosters feelings of entitlement to a set future with all systems in place for the comfortable fitting in of young people. However, there is no defined future, every day there are challenges waiting to be solved. Who must then solve these issues but those who want to benefit from it, the youth.
The future we envision can only be turned into a reality if young people are constantly innovating and willing to be actively involved in building the future of their dreams. The responsibility and obligation to self-improvement is self. Today’s young people must stop being a fault finding and complaining generation but a problem solving and innovative one.