|Youth: Africa’s responsibility|
|Wednesday, 27 June 2012 12:27|
A couple months ago this writer was involved in a spar with Sydney Chisi, one of the celebrated activists in the Western-sponsored civil society lobby. Chisi had posted a picture of himself addressing US President Barack Obama during a tour of the US in 2010.
The tour was for “Young Leaders” from Africa.
Expectedly, there was a gush of praises as his friends admired him for the feat, and some predicted that he would make a great leader some day — what with having rubbed shoulders with the supposed greatest in the world.
And then, in self-praise, Chisi recalled that he remembered the day very well — “ . . . and Tafataona Mahoso, George Charamba and Tichaona Zindoga were not very happy.” Dr Mahoso is a renowned academic while Mr Charamba is the Secretary for Media, Information and Publicity and Presidential spokesperson. How this writer ended up in the company of these men, according to Chisi, is because of an op-ed that I wrote to the effect that the group of the so-called young leaders was not representative at all of Africa’s youth, or for anybody else than themselves.
Giving examples of overwhelmed, if not very intelligible contributions, this writer noted that the participants seemed too pleased to be talking to Obama than to make meaningful contributions, let alone articulate Africa’s concerns. For his part, Chisi, this writer said, among other things, had not mentioned that the sanctions the US imposed on Zimbabwe were militant against Zimbabwean youths. So, in Chisi’s Facebook thread, I reminded him of these issues I had raised, adding that I was not bitter, if very happy, about his “little achievement”, but put it that I wouldn’t care to meet the Obamas of this world.
Rather, I would be happier along my own President.
Needlessly, my contribution immediately disappeared from Chisi’s wall, for reasons unknown to me. It is a matter of conjecture, that Chisi does not quite take kindly to anybody casting aspersions on his soon-to-be, made-in-the-US leadership. Another good guess would be that the US would not be tolerant of opposition to this type of incubation. The gist of this recollection resides with the genuine concern that Africa’s youths are being targeted for indoctrination by the US to become tomorrow’s leaders, in America’s terms.
This is the thrust of the various initiatives such as exchange programmes, scholarships and other symposia in the mould of the one Chisi gloriously embarked on in 2010. It may not be his last.
These machinations of the US are nothing new, as in Zimbabwe there is a number of business, civil society and political leaders that have benefited from US “generosity”. It is no coincidence that a fortnight ago the Barack Obama administration released the blueprint “US strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa” in which the approach to influence the youth and civic organisations is widely and repeatedly discussed.
The strategy seeks US policy in the region that is “proactive, forward-looking, and balances our (US) long-term interests with near-term imperatives.”
In the preface of the strategy, Obama cites the youth as key players. He says: “ . . . the United States will prioritise efforts to empower the next generation of African leadership . . . America’s partnership with this new generation of Africans will extend beyond our government to the broad and deepening relationships between our peoples, businesses, and institutions.
“These roots will drive our path to a future of democracy, peace, and prosperity for generations to come.”
The US will involve in a four-pronged approach to Africa on democratic institutions, economy, peace and security; and development, and “will deepen our engagement with Africa’s young leaders,” among others.
Women and the marginalised are also a key focus.
It will also “use the facilitating power of the United States government to help young African leaders network with one another, share innovative solutions, and demonstrate America’s support for their efforts.”
The point to make here is that the US has laid a very good plan to pilfer Africa’s, and Zimbabwe’s future, which only a counter plan can reverse or assuage, in the very least. Zimbabwe has invested heavily in education and academic development.
However, the country finds itself losing best brains to the machinations of the US. The reason is simple: the US is able to cream off young people and offer them opportunities here and in the US; after all the US is the land of opportunity!
No one faults Chisi because he can see a future he can grasp and leadership he can exercise in some hoped-for future. What is onerous and prudent is for this country’s authorities to put up both infrastructure and superstructures that are responsive to the needs of young people.
It may take a bit of sacrifice. If the US can promise Africa’s youth leadership, why can Africa itself not promise the same? Surely, it’s Africa’s responsibility?
The first option would be the co-option of young people into influential and leadership positions.
If the current leadership continues to look down upon young adults, whose brains (minus experience) could be as good as any, it is at Africa’s own peril.
If Zimbabwe does not have its own leadership academies and colleges, too bad, the future is well stolen. If the country does not give its young people a say, and a future in the economy, too bad, they will find it elsewhere.
Or they will come and have it eventually, only they will not be beholden to the country but those that nurtured and assured them. This is instructive especially amid calls by President Mugabe, for example, that there will be no more diamond licences for foreigners.
It’s time for locals, in particular women and youths.
This kind of pledge only needs some walking the talk.
Otherwise, who will be to blame when Zimbabwe’s future reposes in the safety of America’s pockets? Young people are ambitious, adventurous and need reassurance, something Zimbabwe can favour itself with.