The Zambia I want: Making right choices

FREDRICK Chitangala.

SO, YOU are in Grade 12 and you cannot wait to see the dawn of term three. Well, I know the feeling because I have been there before.
It was in 1993, Isoka Boys, famously called Oranje because of its love for boostelle.
We were excited to finish. Finally we were free from ‘Operation Barbarossa’, bullying of the worst kind. We were free from corporal punishment, which you guys have never experienced.
But in that freedom, there was loss, loss of what to do next. Suppose I fail? Suppose I don’t get picked by The University of Zambia (UNZA)? (arguably the most desired university by then). What do I do between now and that time, that is if that time comes?
Some of our friends were also worried about their health. They had girlfriends outside school, they had sexually transmitted infections before and they didn’t know whether they contracted HIV.
You see, what you do now can haunt you in future. Does this description sound like you? What is your worry? What is your fear? Does it sound like you are heading to Canaan, the promised land, but with Egyptians pursuing you and the Red Sea ahead of you?
Worry not, for the cloud above you will lead the way and give the needed shade when you walk in the blazing sun and the shining frame of fire will give you warmth when it’s cold.
That’s the God we serve, he does not remember your history nor does he remind you of it. I am not ashamed to say if not for UNZA I would only be seeing Lusaka on the map of Zambia.
I left Isoka in 1993, came to UNZA in 1995 and after graduating, we started hearing of some of our friends from Isoka who had died prematurely of avoidable causes. They made wrong choices. What choices are you making today?
There are people whose journey to success sounds and looks easier than yours. For others it feels as though you are destined to fail. You have your own time and path here on earth.
Do not look at other people. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Inc, once said: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” As you dive into society, we expect you to lead the way. I am one of the few who believe that the youth is not a future leader, he is the leader of today. You lack nothing.
God has given you everything you need to succeed, you have a good foundation, skill and energy. Like Moses, use what is in your hands. Dr. Seuss once said: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”
It’s time to show the world that you are not scared of what’s outside and ahead of you. Stick your head and shoulders out and up and launch yourself, launch yourself, launch yourself no matter the thorns.
Ruth Westheimer said: “My favourite animal is the turtle. The reason is that in order for the turtle to move, it has to stick its neck out. There will be times in your life when you’re going to have to stick your neck out. There will be challenges, and instead of hiding in a shell, you have to go out and meet them.” You have what it takes to make it.
You have the foundational skill to do miracles, even if you won’t solve all problems, but your role and your part is needed. Michelle Obama once said: “You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own.”
I warn you, there are few jobs out there. The good news is that there is a lot of work, so much work that if we all identified our niche, poverty would only be in our history books.
I appeal to your parents that the same commitment they showed in ensuring you finish high school, they must show it to ensure you start creating jobs for others. You have dreams, let them come to reality. Become that businessman, that soccer player, that chief executive officer and that doctor, that engineer, that teacher, that accountant.
In all you do, remember, there is work for everyone. The problem is we are all looking for jobs.
I hope your dreams take you to the corners of your smiles, to the highest of your hopes, to the windows of your opportunities, and to the most special places your heart has ever known.
May God take care of you like he did the children of Israel, like he did to Paul, like he has always done to you.
You are a star, it’s time to shine, it’s time to launch yourself responsibly. This is the Zambia I want. This is the independence I want.
The author, a public health and strategic planning consultant, is director at the Youth Development Centre.

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