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International Youth Day: Are we still leaders of tomorrow?

Growing up, we believed the saying that the youth are the leaders of tomorrow. We took this as a promise of hope and some sort of assurance of a better tomorrow. 

However, whether it is true or ambiguous, the underlying message of the axiom imposes a responsibility on essentially two parties –the youth, who are the leaders of tomorrow and the adults, who are the leaders of today. 

Examining the marginalisation of young people over the years, it is not out of place to clamour for a new system of government called ‘youth-o-cracy’ –a government of the people, by the youths and for the people. 

But, sadly, our leaders of yesterday are still clinging on to the baton of power, leaving us to wonder when exactly the future is going to arrive for the youths.

The young population in any nation can be likened to a fire, creeping forward. A spark at first, that eventually grows into a flame and then “boom” brightens into a blaze. Young people are the building blocks of every nation and the stronger the youth population of a country, the more developed that country.

The United Nation’s annual International Youth Day is a reminder that young people around the world are often relegated to the sidelines and excluded from having a say in key decision-making processes that will affect them.

The leadership cadre across African countries is filled with aged politicians who seem to believe that nation-building is their exclusive right and, as such, younger people should not be given a chance. Perhaps, this explains why the youth are the leaders of a ‘tomorrow’ which is yet to arrive.

If we are to solve the most pressing issues of our time, we need to tap into the dynamism of young social entrepreneurs who are disrupting the system with exceptional innovation and creativity. The youth make the biggest demographic bracket of many nations, therefore empowering them is the logical option.

It is time for young people to stop seeing themselves as too young. We need to understand that life is not just a series of calculations and a sum total of statistics. It is about experience and sacrifice. It is something more complex. It is about participation, contribution and making a difference.

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