Where are Africa’s youths?
Hello and Happy Summer months to you all. I am very excited but maybe a little scared as well, not because I don’t like summer, but because of this - I am writing my very first editorial for any newspaper or magazine anywhere in the world. So, I’m excited, and a little scared at the same time.
Some would wonder why I am scared. After all, at the age of nine, I met and interviewed President Jerry Rawlings, who is kind of still an enigma to many on the African continent, or that maybe by age 10, I had started my Dream Up Speak Up Stand Up project to talk to Africa’s Girls especially in rural areas about the importance of getting a good education, and staying in school till at least 18. Or even maybe that by age 12, I had made my first film that showed in 2 cinemas in Lagos, and also showed in Ghana, South Africa, London - England and Tokyo - Japan.
So why am I not writing about movie making or public speaking, since I have spoken to more than 24,500 youths in 11 countries or met more than 18 Presidents & Prime Ministers. Well, it is because I am looking for Africa’s youth. Why, because they are the ones who can change the future of Africa.
A little bit about myself, so perhaps you might understand why I’m looking. My dad is from Nigeria and my mom is from Mauritius, so that makes me a Pan African child. I was born in Los Angeles. This gives me a clear American perspective to things, and opens my eyes wider to many global issues, especially how the rest of the world looks at Africa, where my roots are from. So in all my projects and travels, I always look at Africa, because I see it as a continent that is often painted in a negative light, but I also see this as an opportunity for the young generation to rescue it from this negative perception.
Africa’s youths have all the tools at our disposal to tell a new kind of African story - IPhones, Social Media, Internet as our canvas, so we have a very big voice. But when I run into some youths, in Ethiopia, in Nigeria, in Ghana, in Tanzania, in South Africa, Ghana and even in the UK, I see there are two kinds generally. Those who were born on the continent, and just want to leave the continent very fast, and those who were born out of the continent, and never want to visit the continent.
I am in Africa a lot especially Nigeria, and I see a lot of these there. If I ask them for example where they are from - and by that I meant their states of origin so we can maybe design something for that region, the first thing they say is I’m from Chicago, or I was born in New York. That means they don’t want to identify with Nigeria or Africa. So I ask myself how did this happen. Yes they were born in Chicago or New York, but why don’t they want to have anything to do with Nigeria, or Africa. Sometimes, when I read the papers and see what Africa’s adults are doing like not wanting to leave as Presidents when their time is up, or keeping things that belong to everyone, then I understand a little why the global media say the negative things about Africa, and maybe why these youths want nothing to do with Africa.But still, where are the rest of the youths who would use the power of social media to change the perception of Africa, one country at a time.
My parents always told me and my 3 younger siblings when we were little that we were born in the US, but we must remember where our roots are from, and at every opportunity, we must help when we can. So when I am in Africa, I look for other youths, and somehow I expect them to think like this also.
Like most youths, I like to play and have fun too. I like movies like Madea and James Bond Series, I like music like Bruno Mars and P-Square [only E-No Easy], and I enjoy my X-box games too. But I know that I have a lot of other things to do aside of these things. Like for example, I started a Foundation last December to help manage some of my Education and Skills transfer ideas. Earlier this month, I was in Lagos to teach kids in Makoko basic film making skills, and they loved it. Last month, I helped open a library in Abuja in a government school, where there was none before, and in February, I was teaching unemployed youths in Namibia film making
My parents are not special in any way, and neither am I. But we all must find out what our roles are in society, and what our missions are in life, and the best time to do so is when we are very young, and the world still calls us youth. Because it means we have ideas, we have passion, and we have fresh legs to run fast.
The question again is where are Africa’s youth. Well, look around out there, from South Africa to South Sudan, from Rwanda to Nigeria, from Kenya to Zimbabwe. Africa’s youth are all out there. But Africa’s adults need to sometimes hold the hands of Africa’s youths, and show where the they can help, and teach about real priorities and the things that matter the most, so that the future of Africa - but for me especially the future of Nigeria, is indeed Bright.So, now, Africa’s youth are waiting for Africa’s adults, to lead. That way, Africa would be the world’s leader in a few decades time, when the youths are the new adults. We are Africa’s youth.