Why the Youth Development Agenda Needs Serious Help!
A few hours ago I was (un)lucky enough to attend: African Union Side Event on Cooperation Towards Financing for Youth Development and Empowerment in Africa (wow what a mouthful!).
Anyway, the event was very interesting for me. In my day to day life, I like to focus my time on social media. Social media, by nature, is something that moves incredibly fast. This event, however, was something that did not.
I arrived around 1:10 (the event started at 1:15) and quickly took my seat and prepared for the start of the event. My first reaction when looking around was one of confusion, "So this is an event about young people and how to empower them, yet there's hardly anyone under 40 within the entire crowd?" It was a strange feeling to say the least. The crowd, sadly, also moved according to the sterotypes relegated to people of their age. I couldn't believe how long it took the speakers/panelists to even sit down, be quiet, and actually address the individuals attending. Then they proceeded to take an additional 10 minutes apologizing for the delays. Not only were they slow to act, but the way they spoke might have been the exact opposite of what a good speaker should be. This I attributed to lack of empathy, or lack of interpersonal skills, maybe both, I'm still not quite sure. After this tragic waste of 30 minutes of my life, they stopped apologizing, whispered with each other, and then proceeded to say we had to change rooms.
After an additional 20 minutes wasted of switching rooms, reconfiguring bodies, and more banal conversations happening around me. Someone finally began to speak once more. Now I'm not sure if my ears are going bad, but this particular speaker was mumbling throughout his entire speech. I was sitting pretty close in relativity to most other audience members, so it behooves me to think anyone past myself actually heard a word of what this man said. Moments after he started talking, a panelist sitting to his right cell phone went off. I'm also not referring to a quick moment and jerk reaction of grabbing the phone from her purse and turning it off, she actually seemed entirely disconcerned that this phone was going off on full volume causing the entire crowd to become distracted (which 75 percent already was anyway). After the panelists' ring tone was played for some time, one individual raised his hand and proposed that another meeting be held soon, this time with ambassadors present and ready to share at a later occasion.
Then, all of a sudden, the panelists started speaking French...(I don't speak French).
One of the most quizzical performances I've ever seen. I am not sure who designed this event or how much they were paid to do so, but I'd like to think it was one of the least solid investments I've ever witnessed.
This event should have had young people add their own components into the set up. There was obviously little to none. And if young people did help with the event set up, the higher ups should be fired for negligence. Never has there been a more important time to invest in social media, and anyone in Africa should be identifying the most influentials bloggers on different social channels right now. These are the ones who have their mind on the pulse of what young people are saying, doing, and what they want from the governments to empower their behaviors. Until these sorts of panelists actually listen to the influential youth of Africa, it is doubtful that their draconian and outdated policies on youth involvement will change.