Of Mandela, Conviction and the new crop of African Youth
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“…It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” Mandela, 1964
Nelson Rolihlalhla Mandela is an icon celebrated globally more for his conviction than his achievements. Someone tweeted; “Mandela set out on the long walk to freedom but ended up at humble.” This is a man who stood for something and was ready to lose so much more for it; sadly, this is nothing we can say of today’s breed of young African leaders if those I have met are anything to go by.
I have been in the youth development arena for about two years now; I have interacted with young people from all angles of the continent in various discussion platforms on development especially on how to deliver Africa from its current state. The one thing that I have noticed, with great sadness, is the absolute lack of conviction. There is very little, if any, value-guided beliefs in most of these young guys who are traversing the continent and the globe purporting to represent the plight of youth from Africa.
We, young Africans, have for a long time blamed our leaders for being corrupt and uncommitted to the cause of the African renaissance, we have criticized them for the war they have driven us into, their negligence over important issues like absolute poverty and unemployment, their over- dependence on Aid and misuse of the same, we have labeled them Hyenas and jeered them at public forums. We have castigated them in our online and offline discussions so much you would think they were forced upon us. Whether they are guilty or not, it is not my place to judge, what I advocate for right now is a shift in focus to the next crop of African leaders; us, the African youth.
I am not a Pan-African, this is purely due to the historical nature this tag comes with, I am a Kenyan who wants to wake up one morning and hear good stories about the coast of Senegal, learn of a peaceful handover of power in landlocked state of CAR, learn of adoption of welfare practices in the islands of Madagascar. But I know one thing; this can never be a reality if the current crop of young African leaders who are driven by nothing else but pure greed and personal enrichment are the political leaders of this continent. Young Africans have to look within themselves and find a purpose that goes beyond their individual interest. We have to borrow from the conviction of our fore fathers, whether it is Nelson Mandela or Patrice Lumumba, whoever teaches you true value; because this continent is at our mercy, if not us then who?
Rest in Peace dada. If their is nothing else I will take away,
may your conviction mean something to me and the many other
upcoming youth leaders from Africa!