For food and alcohol, our young people can do anything

FREDRICK Chitangala.

I SPENT my early life in a village set-up, exposed to traditional teachings and upbringing. My best friend then had a grandfather who always pampered us with life lessons through proverbs. Several times, this wise man would scold us and always wondered how the Zambia of the next day would be with the type of disrespectful youths he was seeing.
He would always say “Umwana ashumfwa amenene umwefu kwikoshi”, implying young people need to listen to advice to avoid cutting their lives short while emphasising tomorrow will be devoid of leaders if they don’t get manufactured today: “Imiti ikula empanga”.
Today, it is now our responsibility to positively impact young people. We will be failing in our duties if all we can do is use youths to execute violence. Who doesn’t know what happened in Sesheke? Young people were used to perpetuate violence.
We complain of grown-up violent politicians today, but we forget that we created them. These young boys we are sending like disciples with machetes during campaigns will tomorrow be in power, doing the same to our children. Is this the Zambia we want?
On March 12, Zambia celebrated Youth Day with the theme “Zambian Youth: Generation Unlimited”. This theme is very important. Today’s young person is growing up at a time when technology and the surrounding environment support growth, entrepreneurship and leadership. But it is ironic to think that just few weeks earlier, a young person was being used to butcher others just because of political differences, and today we tell him that he is a “generation unlimited”. Unlimited in violence or what?
The truth is that the young person will have to decide on his/her own how unlimited they want to be. Young people must wake up from their slumber. They must realise that someone is using them for political expediency.
Three days later, President Edgar Lungu was addressing the nation in Parliament on progress made in the application of our national values and principles.
He talked about many important things, but let me just focus on what applies to my subject today. The President condemned all forms of political violence in the strongest terms, emphasising the need to promote co-existence and accommodate divergent views. Leaders in political parties do not fight each other but they seem to ignore the intolerance among their cadres. Let us heed the presidential advice.
The President also talked about alcohol and substance abuse. We do have politicians who attract young people to their parties by buying alcohol for them, and in their grown and mature brains, they are sure this is empowering young people. No, it’s creating limited generations.
The President reported how the Government sensitised both traditional and religious leaders from all the 10 provinces on the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse.
We would expect that these sensitised leaders must in turn sensitise young people, who should in turn sensitise others in a network marketing style commonly used by Apostle Paul when he used to mentor young people.
Take for instance his appeal to his spiritual son Timothy, a youth, when he told him: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). If we don’t do this, we must forget about the Zambian youth being a generation unlimited.
Young people, look around yourself, you could be a victim of abuse. On March 17, Pastor Helmut Reutter of Gospel Outreach Fellowship delivered a sermon entitled “Take advantage of your age”, reminding young people that despite the challenges they face growing up, they also have tremendous opportunities to excel. As much as we know that young people are being used, we also know they can choose not to be used.
For food and beer, our young people can do anything. In Daniel chapter 1, the King requested for good-looking, intelligent and trainable young men. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians for three years.
And He promised them good food and good wine. But Daniel and his friends refused to eat or drink any of this. They made a choice not to be bought by alcohol or food. Surprisingly, just a few days into the training, they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food and drank the choice wine.
At the end of the three-year course, the four young men graduated as best students.
If you don’t take advantage of your age today, you will miss set markers and you will not remember that you have long bypassed the stage you were supposed to change gears for a long and blessed life.
Not too long ago, a group of youths decided to shower Mr. Kambwili with unprintables and they were even proud to circulate this. In what looked like competition, another group did the same to Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba.
My friend, one day you will wake up, it’s too late, life wasted and you will live a life of regrets when these politicians finish using you. Pastor Reutter said Life and Time are God’s gifts – use them for the good.
You will not be young forever. You can be a generation of unlimited potential and exploits by choice. To all of us, let us harness the opportunities of youthful life, now! This is the Zambia I want.
The author is director at the Olympic Youth Development Centre.

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