Columnists

Time for youths to rise and shine

CHILUFYA

Analysis: WILFRED CHILUFYA
I SIT down and think. Many questions go round in my head. What has really gone wrong with our generation?

From the look of things, we cannot change things. All we do is to complain. Are we to blame or it’s our leaders?
Where are we going?
There are so many things destroying our society but youths who are supposed to be the game-changers are all mute.
Most of the young people now support anything even when they know it is not good for their future.
One writer once said, “If you are emotionally attached to your tribe, religion or political [party], leaning to the point that truth and justice become secondary consideration, your education is useless. Your exposure is useless. If you cannot reason beyond petty sentiments, you are a liability to mankind.”
Some youths simply support certain ideologies to get some coins from their masters. But do they ask themselves how long they will continue being given coins to pay for rentals and to buy food?
I think it’s high time we began to use our own minds to make decisions and not being remote-controlled by our so-called leaders who do not even care much about our welfare.
Our country is slowly being dominated by selfish leaders who find pleasure in seeing young people cutting each other with machetes while their own children are seated comfortably in their homes.
The question we need to start asking ourselves as young people is: do we fight for our future or we fight for their bellies and pockets to get full?
The population of Zambia is mainly comprised of young people who I can describe as being ‘powerful in number but vulnerable by position’. My fellow youths, let us wake up and realise the power we have in our hands.
Politicians depend on us. Therefore, let us rise and set a standard of politics in the country. We should say no to violence.
If young people, who are the game-changers, fail to rise and make a difference, then we must be prepared for the worst.
No matter how many governments we may have, if we don’t realise who we are and our role in the governance system, politicians will continue using us as pawns in their own games.
Zambia is slowly being divided into tribes and regions, but the future leaders are all mute. They are all scared to speak out because they don’t want to offend their paymasters.
We should all remember that when these things become worse in future, the masters we serve now will not be there.
The issue of tribalism and regionalism is worsening, such that even our parents would advise us not to marry from certain tribes. We know this is not right for Zambia, but we are all still quiet. The motto of ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ is now slowly losing its meaning because we are now identifying ourselves by our tribes and regions. I am sure the hearts of our founding fathers bleed when they see what is happening in our country; the land that they fought for so hard to get independence.
A Zambia where every elderly man was your father and every elderly woman was your mother is no more. Where have we really gone wrong?
Zambia is blessed with many resources and plenty of land. We are seeing big chunks of land going to foreigners, and as young people, we are still quiet. We have heard that some chiefs are carelessly giving land to foreigners, yet we are quiet, forgetting that the resource is what defines our country and gives us ownership of it. Without land, we will end up being squatters on our own land.
Let me remind my fellow youths that for every country to develop, it needs the energy of the youths. For change to take place, it needs the voice of the youths. The change we want to see will only come when the young people stand up and say no to vices that do not add value to them and the nation.
It’s high time young people stood up to tell politicians that whoever will be heard campaigning or dwelling on issues bordering on tribe will never be supported. They are destroying our future. I dream of a generation where, if a politician is heard campaigning on tribal lines, the youth will rise and campaign against such a character.
I have a dream of a generation where youths will stand united against a leader who wants to influence them to cause violence. Oh yes, I have a dream, a dream of a generation that will tell politicians to engage in issue-based campaigns and promote their manifestos, not a generation voting for a candidate based on a song, tribe, region or colour.
Many young people are unemployed and they may be afraid to speak out for fear that their paymasters will rebuke and disown them. But for desirable change to take place, there is need for sacrifice. We need to rise for the sake of mother Zambia, which belongs to all of us. Let us demand for better policies and better management of our resources from all stakeholders in the land.
Some politicians take advantage of the Zambian youths because of two major factors, namely poverty and illiteracy. They say and do all sorts of things because they know many are hungry and uninformed. But they forget that we hear and see what they do. In using us, they are dividing the country into tribes and regions, making things worse for our generation. While they use us, land and other valuable resources are going into the hands of foreigners.
The question is, do they really know the monster they are creating in us? They are creating a generation that believes that for you to be rich, you have to be corrupt and you must be violent. Let me remind the politicians that some of these youths you are equipping with bad vices have a lot of energy and are more creative than you, hence you may create a society that is more corrupt and more violent than you are. That is something we must all avoid.
Young people’s contribution and leadership in preventing and resolving conflict and violence is essential to building sustainable peace. With their creativity and energy, they have the potential to be strong drivers of economic growth, development and innovation.
The author is Pillars of Peace national youth co-ordinator and commissioner sitting on the Commission of Inquiry into Voting Patterns and Electoral Violence.

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