The cradle of Mankind - African youth and the future

Society & Culture | By Archibald Mathibela, PR Consultant | 25 May 2014
PHOTO: © Baynham Goredema

Zimbabwe is blessed with one constant. The potential to be all things great, the potential to rise beyond the status of a bygone era glorified and vilified in equal measure as the axiomatic cradle of a mankind with epic fields in the savannah teeming with bounteous plenty, from whence the bowels of our earth sprang untold riches. Today, Africa, nay Zimbabwe still carries the ominous echo of that era which afflicts us like a gangrenous sore of a forlorn pariah. The blight of a country drunk in a languorous stupor, raped and brutalized at every turn, but publicly extolled for its perceived virtues as the alpha and omega of collective enrichment and untold fortunes. As fate would have it, in this burgeoning breed of globalization and the ubiquity of technological advancement, the odds seem finally to be in favour of the brave and industrious. The most discerning of entrepreneurial minds in our society will be at the forefront of buttressing the gains of the next surge in fortunes whose simmering tumescent energy is only in its formative phase.

Like everything else in our midst, Africa has mostly been active as a consumer of everything the world produces with its own raw materials stripped right from under its bowels with no meaningful returns. But this status quo can only be abated if the youth of the motherland awake to the significance of their part in the unfolding events that will change the global political and economic socioscape. The answer to Africa’s problems lies squarely on the doorstep of a quiescent youth in the richest continent on earth. The United Nations estimates that there is currently a population of 700 million people below the age of 30 on the continent alone.  A staggering 70% of the continent’s population! This makes Africa the continent with the biggest youth population globally and the prospects for self-actualization are dizzying to say the least.

Today, more than ever before, the youth have the wherewithal to influence the status quo and transform it to suit the demands of the current dispensation. Moreso, because the youth have become a formidable market unto themselves and the game of economics and politics is always influenced by one thing only – numbers! There is no reason why government policies should still pander to the same whims of an absentee ruling class whilst the current interests of a nascent majority wallow in the intensive care unit of an infinite wish list with precious little prospect of being fulfilled. African youths should form one formidable core unit to craft and influence not only national, but continental and world policy to safeguard their interests. The world does not owe us anything; rather, we owe it our mastery, our consummate leadership and vivacity. The time is now! Surely, for how long can we wait on the terraces as apprentices when government has already made salient overtures in acknowledging the contribution of the youth in our country? The policy framework is now in place and the initiative is now with the youths to fully organize and take advantage of the goodwill that the state has shown by creating employment for ourselves and going into meaningful enterprise for our future sustenance as a core group to help government accomplish its mandate as an organic unit.

This can only happen if youths start taking themselves seriously in terms of real economic participation and stewardship. It goes without saying that current government efforts to address youth unemployment are piecemeal since they do not seek to address the real problems the youths face, but to treat the symptoms of the problem. The youth need to come up with business ventures that contribute meaningfully to the fiscus whilst creating long term terminal benefits and employment for their generation . One of the most sustainable business models for youths is through business enterprises that are export biased since they earn the country foreign currency whilst improving the viability of the country’s industry and downward sub sectors. The majority of the youths in the country are instead preoccupied with smalltime high school type of agricultural projects that will never earn them enough income to be subsequently considered as serious contenders in the national, let alone global economy.

Beyond the token soft loans that the Ministry of Youth is arbitrarily parceling out, there should be an initiative in the body politic of youth organizations and groups to form well organized and resourced cartels and groups that have leverage in engaging government and rallying authorities to its multifarious causes. I am speaking here of lobbying for incentives from the government that will make it easier for youths to set up legacy building businesses that can attract foreign investment due to the scope of their vision and intention. Poultry projects, market gardening, welding and woodwork will not pass muster! Why not set up telecoms companies, consolidate small mining claims into conglomerates, commercial livestock rearing, crocodile farming, solar power harnessing, gas and coal mining projects?. I know the perennial argument is that of funding bottlenecks and such, but those who are fielding the gamut of such legacy sustaining projects are locals with full title to locally registered companies in cooperation with foreign technical partners and financiers. Given the government policy of local majority shareholding being mandatory, then the youth have their work cut out for them. The problem is that current businesses whilst creating such opportunities for themselves do not have the adequate visionary leadership and drive to see this to national project status. Their lot is that of small scale players with arm’s length reach that consumes precious resources with no meaningful long term beneficiation since they are mostly in their twilight years and could care less for future prospects.

Legacy business entities are the future of our country and all youths have the responsibility to strive to create more of these if they are to be an independent entity with evocative influence on the global landscape. Zimbabwe needs a more visionary breed of youths that will not parody the habits of its forbears but rather strive for a more sustainable approach to business which will make the continent a force to reckon with as it rightly should be. In the utopia of the new Africa slowly unveiling now, the great questions of the day will not be decided by the most vocal, but youths whose actions have laid the foundation for purpose driven entities that are geared towards serving their immediate communities and exporting the surplus to the rest of the world at a viable profit. Avant-garde business enterprises of uncompromising excellence and beyond reproach leadership in their chosen fields with a global mandate. This is the Zimbabwe we want and every discerning youth should heed the rallying cry to action. This is no longer a solely civil issue, it is a call to action for all youths who are serious about their future to take action variously and collectively one small step at a time in their communities to address the issues affecting them and be part of the change that they want to see in society and their own chosen vocations. Be courageous, be consistent, be persistent, stay positive and never give up!