Youth must arise, define their desired future

Thursday, September 19th, 2019 00:00 |
World Youth Forum. Photo/Courtesy

In December this year, thousands of young men and women from across the world will meet at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for the annual World Youth Forum (WYF).  

First held in November, 2017, the forum is growing into an opportunity for the youth to engage with the world’s policy and decision makers, in efforts to make the world a better place for humanity.

The main messages that inform this global forum include prosperity, peace, harmony, and progress. 

Participants of the WYF include heads of State and government, global youth leaders, influential personalities, and youth groups.

The WYF acts as an opportunity for the youth to exchange views and experiences, and make recommendations on alleviating current global challenges.

In the spirit of unity of the youth around the world, WYF is an all-inclusive event that encompasses all races, different ethnicities, regions, social classes, religions and levels of education.

This year’s forum comes at a critical moment in the increasingly unpredictable socio-economic and political environment globally.

All corners of the globe are hurting from common challenges such as unemployment, terrorism, corruption, climate change and poor governance.

However, most of these problems are created and perpetuated by the older generation. Those in power do not seem to care for progeny.

Sadly, the youth will inherit this mess, and spend the rest of their lives trying to clean it up.

Understandably, the youth are insecure, and angry. As a university lecturer who interacts with many young men and women, I see it daily in their eyes.

I can feel the fear in their hearts, and lingering doubts in their heads about what the future portends.

The youth are under so intense pressure to conform to a predetermined image that they had no role in making. It faces them daily in the media, and perpetuated by peers and role models.

That is why they feel the older generation does not understand them. They are frustrated, and many are finding it impossible to cope.

On September 10, we marked the World Suicide Prevention Day. Now, suicide is the second leading cause of death among the 15-29 year-olds globally. 

In Kenya, and Africa generally, the youth have been largely misused as cannon fodder during political contests. They are usually the main combatants during violent confrontations. After the crisis is over, they get the least dividends for their sacrifice.

Moreover, many of those who ascend to privileged positions hardly add any value to the plight of their contemporaries. There are few visionary youth leaders in power, in the calibre of the late Kibra MP Ken Okoth. 

Just look at the leading aspirants being fronted by political parties to replace Okoth, and you will understand why the youth are fast losing hope in the status quo.

But even as the world must now stop its betrayal and neglect of the youth, the latter must also show a sense of direction and purpose.

When one comes of age, it is expected they will take responsibility for their actions. In Africa, for instance, young people must refuse to be misused by politicians. 

The youth cannot have their cake, and eat it. Rather than allowing themselves to be reduced to goons and beggars, they must demand accountability for the resources entrusted to their leaders.

It is imperative that participants at the forthcoming WYF undertake a soul searching of their role in the current predicament.

Being the majority age group globally, the power to change the world is truly within their purview. - The writer is a communication expert and public policy analyst—[email protected]

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