As The Day of the African Child is celebrated this Friday (16 June), it is mindful to have a rain check on the challenges facing the youths today chief of which is the indecision that they encounter in a world of an information explosion where the traditional family safety valve and indigenous knowledge systems have been rendered obsolete.
The rights movement has taken a wider role in engendering a spirit of disobedience amongst the youths which produces a ghetto culture that allows permissiveness yet it is an age old truth that freedom without responsibilities is utopia. For Zimbabwean youths, especially those in Manicaland province, the day coincides with a mega meet-the- youths tour by His Excellency, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe whose support for the youths is legendary.
He is the man who made it possible for universal education to be the hallmark of post-independence Zimbabwe and today, the nation stands tall as one of the highest literate countries in the world. The President has always been an avid reader and an avowed educationist; thus, for youths to kick out ignorance, they must prioritize the acquisition of knowledge and be their own employers through the entrepreneurial skills.
It is a day which would remain in the collective memories of many young people as they tap into the wisdom of a wily statesman who has defied major odds in his political career as he remains the last man standing. However, there are numerous challenges that the youths face in a world which is harsh to young upstarts.
Given the information society that we live in, many youths find themselves bombarded by images from the world of technology which makes them error prone in terms of decision making. They spent most of their times ‘on the net.’ Feeding their minds with ‘dirt’ has become a favourite pass time and the forces ranged against ‘conservatism’ are relentless. Anything which their parents inculcate in them is regarded as backward and archaic warranting a casual glance.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and Youtube have spectacularly replaced the aunts, uncles and grandparents of old; as a result, youths have an alien culture that they acquire gradually. Rihanna’s dress code has become part of popular culture and try as they might teachers are failing to stop the drop waist dressing culture endemic at school. One video clip on social media depicts two men who were ready to fight but first, they had to undress to the barest minimum. Surprisingly, they had a ‘wardrobe.’
It is the youths who went to join the liberation war in their numbers and Zimbabwe owes it to them that today, she stands as a proud nation. Again, youths have to look at themselves in the mirror and remove the pimples which blight their lives. Partying has become a singular feature of college students that attract their attention and failing their studies is no longer a notion to be fearful of but when it comes to enjoying the party vibes, students suddenly pick up the tempo.
Recently, an unfortunate tragedy occurred at one of the institutions of higher learning when three students on their way from an end of degree party had an accident after 14 of them crammed themselves in a CRV which under normal circumstances must have a maximum of nine passengers. Clearly, decision making was found wanting there. ‘Blessers’ are in vogue and that word in college girls’ parlance is a hit. For those not in the know, ‘blessers’ are the modern day ‘sugar daddies’ and because of the world which has turned on its head, we have female ‘blessers’ too who have assumed the role of ‘sugar mommies.’’
In a world where expectations from the youths on how life should be lived, they find themselves in a dilemma as to what morals to follow-traditional or the razzmatazz prevalent in today’s world dogged by ‘The Kardashians’ shenanigans as portrayed on television and other social media platforms. The Cocalisation of the world has made the youths eager to join the global village when they are less prepared to be part of.
To be a homosexual or not to be seems to be one of the contentious questions of our times. Our youths go to foreign countries and come back clad in earrings and behaving like women and we wonder where they read that script which praises femininity in males. Are they the lost generation? They are not but they are grappling with decision making. If an elderly person guides them, they are the first to throw the first cudgel intimating that s/he is behind time. Is it really true?
Youths find themselves in a world where marrying an elderly person is considered cool. High flying French President (Emmanuel Macron) who married his school teacher, Dame Brigitte Trogneut, defied all odds and he is said to be a happy married man. One wonders whether under the Zimbabwe Public Service Commission regulation her loco parentis role was going to be questioned in the wake of her marrying a young man she taught and one who was a class mate of her daughter.
In the Zimbabwean context, young men have to decide whether to follow their hearts or conform to their parents’ expectations. Samuel had just come out of university and had an affair with a woman who had a Grade 6 student as a son; Samuel’s parents would have none of it and they were rabidly opposition to the blossoming love affair and they never failed to air out their revulsion at the woman who they regarded as having had an undue influence over their son.
He had to make a decision; he chose his parents and ignored the woman much to the relief of the parents. Evidently, his rights had been trampled upon but the French connection hadn’t cottoned on to his parents. Maybe, as a nation, we would feel that ‘love has no age’ but for now it appears many youths will continue to face a myriad of problems when they have elderly people as their Mr or Miss Right.
President Mugabe has been unstinting in his aversion to homosexuality, a condition some youths say is a natural phenomenon. Young people have to decide whether to be natural or unnatural. Peer pressure has long been identified as one of the chief causes of delinquency of delinquency among adolescents. Nevertheless, peer pressure can be a positive ingredient in shaping a young adult’s character.
To illustrate, high fliers normally associate with people of similar thinking. See how St Faith’s High School shines at both ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels owing to the highly competitive nature of the student body. Therefore, positive pressure is required but decision making from the youths as to who they should play with is desired.
Having wrong role models leads to darkness; as youths, make good footprints of success. Use the global village to further the virtues of mankind. It is imperative to remain with both feet planted on the ground. As yet another 16 June passes by youths have to be wary of destabilizing influences of the global village.
The City Youth League in colonial Zimbabwe did it when they led a bus boycott back in the 1950’s and they certainly are not the last. Manicaland waits for the living legend, the icon of the Black world, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Youths will certainly get some quotable quotes and nuggets of wisdom from the great man himself.
It is flattering that when the President graduated from Fort Hare University way back in 1959, there were less than 15 graduates in the whole country but today, thousands are graduating at more than a dozen universities in Zimbabwe.
In youths, the country will always believe as they are the future but they ought to take a leaf from the elders.