Many African youths are ignored in taking strong position of leadership.
I have observed that many African governments of the 21st century have a tendency of destroying and ignoring new bloods. Older politicians came up with a notion of dismissing the outspoken youth in general and weaken or disempower the outspoken youth leaders in particular.
In 2012 Namibian youth in general and SWAPO youth in particular raised a question of urban land distribution. This issue rose out when three youth leaders symbolically grabbed land at Klein Kluppe. This event provoked some leaders who want to keep land for themselves, their friends, family and foreign entrepreneurs. As a result, they later suspended Job Amupanda, Dimbulukeni Nauyoma and George Kambala from the ruling party.
Precisely, this was done to weaken their position in society. The moment you have a low position in society; automatically society have low anticipations towards you. Marx Weber once argued that power, wealth and position go hand in hand in each given situation.
The big lions have power, wealth and high positions in our societies. As a result they are utilising their power to stop and shut the voices of powerless young people.
It’s seen as a sign of disrespect when youth talk against corruption, nepotism and unequal distribution of wealth and social justice. Scandalously, when money is lost in government, it’s a normal practice and people do not really take serious actions against it. Corruption is now a normal conduct in Africa, except in South Africa where former president Zuma is facing criminal charges.
When youths advocate against social injustice, it’s criminalised by older African politicians to an extent that truth can cost someone’s job and even life. People who commit corrupt activities enjoy privileges compared to people who expose the truth. Africa, how long we will ignore and murder brilliant ideas from young intellectuals!
Similarly as did SWAPO, ANC used the same system to suspend one of the outspoken youth Julius Malema. As an awakened youth it was clear to me that Malema was not suspended and expelled because of misconduct but because he embarked on a radical debate of class and nationalisation of mines.
ANC top leadership realised that it was dangerous for them who want to continue enjoying privileges while the masses are suffering. As a result, the ANC expelled Malema simply because they wanted to weaken him and disempower him. Older politicians mostly in ruling parties consolidated power within themselves.
To exercise their power, some African leaders started with cooperating and appointing captured youths to lead certain institutions. Captured young individuals have no say about what is right to them; they obey irrational rules of their masters. Unimportantly, they rather clap hands, get their salary and forget about most important obligations.
Captured youths have their own interest in saving their masters and ignore the masses. For them masters come first, they come second, while the public that is supposed to be first comes last.
For young bloods, freedom of speech is our rights to express our opinions and thoughts. We understand freedom of speech as a theory and one of the significant concepts in democracy. African youths have rights to speak out about things that have never taken them into state of happiness and engagements.
However the understanding of older African politicians is that youths’ democratic rights through public discourses are disrespecting them. Thus their response is always suspensions and expulsions. Idi Amin Dada, president of Uganda 1971 until 1978, once said “I can guarantee you freedom of speech but there is no freedom after speech”.
– Sakaria Johannes is a third year political science and history student at the University of Namibia.
Similarly, young people can speak out, but the aftermath of their expressions could be devastating. In neighbouring Zimbabwe, outspoken Itai Dzmara disappeared without trace to date. He was a sharp critic of Robert Mugabe’s authoritarian regime.
Africa, it’s time to unite and allow young people to occupy strong positions. It’s time to consider fresh ideas from young intelligentsia. If the youth is threatened, what, as per Vladimir Lenin’s critical question, is to be done?