“Young people, when informed and empowered, when they realize that what they do truly makes a difference, can indeed change the world.” Jane Goodall
The fate of the world as is shown by the course of history is one that has been shaped by individuals who think like persons of action and act like persons of thought. These persons realized the time and age in which they lived and used all that they had in them not to allow evil triumph. They risked their lives, strained relations with family and gave up personal gratification because they saw a cause that was bigger than them and knew that they could make lasting impact.
Mention can be made of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who led in the fight for independence in the then Gold Coast. History would never forget Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X who championed the interest of the black race some of which included civil rights and voting rights.
We see the tireless work of Mahatma Gandhi in leading the Indian independence movement. Then again we see the cock crowing in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. The fees must fall movement championed by students some years back in South Africa shows us the strength that lies in community organizing. In an ever rapidly changing world with more complex problems we must ask ourselves of what our role is and what we can do to face the challenges of our time.
I speak to all the young ones in saying that it is our time to rise up and reclaim the seemingly lost promise of this world especially Africa. The work of many young ones across the globe gives us hope. From innovations to educate kids, create opportunities for all and reduce poverty to ensuring access to quality healthcare down to amazing ideas with technology and starting businesses that create value, these young ones have shown us the way. I see it in Greta Thunberg fighting to make sure climate change does not increasingly become an issue relegated to the background. I see it in Gideon Olarenwaju who is working to make education accessible and I take inspiration from the life of John Lewis, a young man in the 1960s fighting and risking even his life to help end racial injustice in America. Needless to say, this is not enough and there is a lot more to be done.
I speak mindful of all the challenges that stare us in the face when we wake up every day. Many are the things that have kept me from the successful execution of starting an initiative to give voice to the voiceless and make people believe once more. So believe me when I say I am not talking about blind optimism. I speak of the hope that makes us wake up every morning knowing that today will be better than yesterday. So with each passing day and our interactions with people, we must have this itching to go all out and do our bidding to humanity.
Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation today. We must think of ourselves as a piece of a larger framework and realize how our little efforts in our various communities can change the world for good. Let us bring folks together to speak and act against injustices in the system. Let us find new ways to care for people who have long forgotten what it feels like for a human to live a life befitting the status.
Tell you what, that kid who does not know where the next meal is coming from is looking up to us. That girl child in that forgotten corner of the world who dreams of becoming President one day is looking to us. The next football superstar is looking up to us and indeed we owe it to all these ones because our lives are better when theirs gets better too.
John F. Kennedy says that “If not us, who? If not now, when?” So young ones across the world and especially here in Africa, this is our time. Let us make use of our education, energy and potential to make the world the place we want to see it be. Let us summon what is best in us to ensure that everyone has a fair shot and perhaps the same chance that most of us have today. So if like me you believe that we can work together to make this happen, I ask you to join in the fight as we share ideas and collaborate efforts. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella of Sierra Leone says it much better, “If you would not do it for our generation, we are all old men and women. Do it for your children and grandchildren.”