By Francis Mukuzunga WINDHOEK Namibian youths are seeking for more involvement and participation in matters pertaining to the country’s political, economic and social development. This was the general call made at a consultative meeting at the Windhoek Multi-Purpose Youth Resource Centre in Katutura last Thursday. The two-day meeting was attended by youth groups from across the country and was aimed at drawing up a list of concerns to be taken up at the 5th African Development Forum (ADF-V) in Ethiopia next month. On November 16 to 18, 2006 African and other world leaders will descend on the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa for the ADF-V conference with the theme: “Youth and Leadership in the 21st Century”. This is the first time that the issue of youth and development will be discussed at an African Union level. Youths in Namibia could not be found wanting in this regard, hence the current consultative meeting. In his keynote remarks, Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sport and Culture Pohamba Shifeta assured the youths that they are an important asset to the nation and therefore deliberations that come out of the meeting would be taken seriously. Sadly though, he said, the youth were vulnerable to many socio-economic challenges that hamper progress. These, according to Shifeta, include unemployment, unwanted pregnancies, alcoholism and HIV/Aids infection. “At the same time they are perceived as agents who possess vitality to makes things change in the right direction. We need nowadays to see the new values of the continent in us, as young people,” he said. He urged society to accept the values of the youths and also for them to appreciate their importance “as the true driving force of Africa” and the need to consider them as future investment. “We need to instil in our young people a sense of security and confidence so that they have the courage to defend their rights and shoulder their responsibilities and obligations as leaders of Africa today and tomorrow,” Shifeta added. Coordinator of the event, Bony Gawaseb, also assured the youths that government would seriously take their concerns into consideration and that these would be taken up by a high-powered Namibian delegation to the ADF-V meeting next month. Consultative meetings of youths in leadership are also taking place in various African countries. Issues that come out of these meetings would be taken up to a broader consensus at the Addis Ababa meeting. On a global scale, issues to do with the youth have been debated at high-level meetings. At the United Nations 1995 General Assembly, youth issues were debated leading to the formation of the World Programme of Action on Youth (WPAY), which held a further meeting in October 2005 to highlight the plight of youths from around the globe. The African Union Summit held in Khartoum, Sudan in January this year underscored the need to restore hope and confidence to the younger generation by giving them greater participation in national and international issues. The World Bank has devoted its 2007 edition of the World Development Report to the youth under the theme: “Development and the Next Generation”. Most importantly, African leaders who attended the AU Summit held in Banjul, Gambia in July 2006 adopted the new African Youth Charter that is now ready for signature and ratification from the member states.
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