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17.05.2019 Feature Article

Any Hope For The Youth?

Any Hope For The Youth?

The central point is simply that this kind of desperate scrambling individualism is so pronounced in poor societies, precisely because not only do winners take all, but also losers lose out absolutely. The cost of failing to take advantage of opportunities for enrichment and indeed the cost of not having access to such opportunities can be an absolute poverty; a stark, constraining and total deprivation, (Gavin Kitching).

Gavin Kitching made the above statement in his book 'RETHINKING SOCIALISM' published in 1983. In my view, the statement above, made some 35 years back, was prophetic when juxtaposed with the socio-political and economic situations confronting Ghana today.

The problem of this nation can be described as 'Partitioning Ghana's resources by the few to the disadvantage of the many'. A few elite in politics and public office today seem to have legitimized scrambling and looting of national resources as a way of life, while the majority of the citizenry wallow in abject deprivation of even the basic necessities of existence.

So vulgar is the voracious and gluttonous appetite for the selfish expropriation of the national resources by a certain cabal that they have no sympathies for the nation. In the process, looting brigands parading as leaders of this country do not lose a sleep over the mountainous heap of debts that have been poured on this country without regard for the future.

The nation has within such short space of time burdened its citizens with such level of debts in normal times; the interest payments alone are so suffocating that all other social and economic activities should pay obeisance to interest payment schedules. We have not come from a war situation which requires massive injection of finances to rebuild failed social and economic infrastructure needed to ensure sanity that requires such rush in borrowing with its negative repercussions on other sectors of the society.

Yet, this nation has found itself in such levels of debts which are so baffling and virtually bringing down the nation. And each time, the managers of the economy are just proud that when they go borrowing, the lenders are too willing to lend us what we want – the cost notwithstanding.

In recent times, middle level professionals trained with the tax payers' money, who are able and willing to work to take care of themselves and support their families and contribute their quota towards national development, have had cause to picket at the presidency and the ministries, asking the government to post them to anywhere in Ghana so that they will offer the services of their training to Ghanaians.

Not once in the history of this country have we experienced such blatant neglect of our young energetic segment of the working populace to our collective detriment. This country is going through a very difficult period for the youth whose shoulders lay the challenge of repaying the unbridled loans being heaped on this country. Formal education is becoming very difficult not only in terms of poor infrastructure, but also teaching and learning. The implementation of the Free SHS has taken away a huge burden off the shoulders of parents, but there is still a huge population of the youth whose interests are not catered for.

In spite of the relief for teacher trainees and nursing trainees to access the various training institutions, there are those who still need to be supported in acquiring other skills which will occupy them and also mould them for the future. In the absence of such opportunities, the devil finds jobs for them, so the saying goes. Those who have resorted to the use of drugs and are doing all manner of evil things are predominantly products of societal neglect. Most of them would have wished to be in SHS, teacher training colleges, nursing training colleges or the universities too.

The frustration, hopelessness and despondency, which have created some destitution among the youth as a result of misuse of our national resources, are a major threat to the stability of this nation. The history of the world is fraught with situations where the poor have been mobilized by the forces outside the peasantry – often urban-based intellectuals from various professional backgrounds – to fight colonial powers or the establishment of revolutionary authorities.

In our contemporary world, the youth, in their quest to get out of such extreme material poverty, which are 'literally, metaphorically, intellectually and emotionally stunting and narrowing', poverty inflicted on a people by circumstances and thievery of those who have the responsibility to properly manage their collective resources and not by choice, has led to mass civil rebellions in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, to name a few.

And when the decision time comes to break the crippling manacles of expensive education, unemployment among the youth and a sense of hopelessness and frustrations and uncertainty into the future, no action will be too risky for the young ones to take if that will remove the shackles of dehumanization from their minds. Today in Ghana, one of the safest escape routes from poverty and the pursuit of affluence by the youth is the pursuit of public office, especially political office. That is the reason why young people with no known experience in their lives, who have not worked anywhere or for themselves, have become Ministers of State and are clamouring to become Members of Parliament.

They are few, and the majority, even if they want to travel that same road, the opportunities will not be available to them. As human beings, well trained to contribute to their personal development and the nation, there will be a time when they cannot tolerate the shabby treatment the nation is offering them through mis-governance. If middle level professionals could forgo an evening bath and sleep on the premises of government facilities to make a case that borders on their future as far as job opportunities are concerned, then let no one think that the mass revolutions (not the fake ones by power-drunk individuals who mobilize peasants for their own good) which have occurred recently in other jurisdictions is very far away from us.

The millions of young people – from the stark illiterates, the kayayeis, the truck pushers, through to JHS graduates and SHS dropouts, most of whom risk their lives selling on the streets to the middle level professionals, university and polytechnic graduates, who move around our streets daily without knowing where the next meal is coming from, adults who still depend on their aging and poor parents for their daily survival even after going through education and equipping themselves for the job market – cannot continue to tolerate these undignified lives imposed on them by circumstances and not a choice they have made.

They cannot see their children go through similar or worse conditions of life, the young pretty ladies cannot and must not sell their bodies and souls to buy bliss or eke out existence which has become the norm today, many otherwise young men have engaged in one form of illegal activity or the other just to keep their heads above the crowded path of life. This is not to justify the criminal acts some of them engage themselves in. Whenever it started, it must stop. It is getting worse; this is a fact.

We are sitting on a time bomb that can explode at anytime; the youth will lose nothing but the manacle of poverty and uncertainty of life. Three tots of mahogany bitters to wipe off my tears.

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Kwesi Biney
Kwesi Biney, © 2019

This author has authored 83 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwesiBiney

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