As part of my last official engagement as a young
person professional , I participated in the celebration of Africa Youth Day at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa from 30th October-1st Nov 2015:-a day that coincides with the liberation of Algeria!The purpose of this event or so it was, to contribute and channel the young voices, energy and idealism to reinforce the efforts towards the achievement of sustainable development in Africa. The theme for the 2015 celebration was “African Year of Human Rights towards Agenda 2063 – the Africa We Want” with a special focus on the rights of Young Women:-a theme specially chosen to support the preamble to the African Union First Ten-Year Implementation Plan for Agenda 2063. If this is the first time you are hearing about Agenda 2063, slap yourself in the face and ask Google immediately!
African Youth Day Celebrations at African Union Commission: Photocredits AU Youth Programme
While other African young people professionals are busy either selling their souls to politicians or begging God and ancestral spirits to open wide doors for them, some young people professionals are ACTING locally and internationally with the available resources. Dubbed ‘Youth heroes’, I was amazed at how much they are doing in advocating for, promoting and protecting human rights towards Agenda 2063 with a special focus on the rights of Young Women after looking at their presentations, individual views shared photos and videos of the work that they are doing locally, regionally and continentally. Meeting such people affirmed my belief that ‘We may not be where we want Africa to be, but we (young people professionals) are not sleeping.
But Who in god’s name is a ‘Young Person’?
Perhaps, the biggest pothole in the new SDGS is their failure to clearly find a universal term for ‘young person’. Most often, a number of documents in Africa, define a young person by age most often quoting15-35 bracket. The danger in defining a young person by age is that he/she is not just they will see themselves as ‘young’ for ever but Adults Professionals won’t take us serious. Could a language change from ‘young person’ or ‘youth’ to ‘Young Professional’ make a difference?
Looking at 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa 2015, to name but afew:
Ali-shah Jivraj, a 27-year-old third generation Asian-Ugandan entrepreneur, is the founder and CEO of Royal Electronics, a $15 million (annual revenues) Ugandan company that assembles and distributes electronic home appliances such as television sets, radios, speakers, and DVD players under the ‘Royal’ brand. He also owns a property development firm which is developing more than 50 residential apartments in Kampala.
Trushar Khetia, Kenyan: Founder, Tria Group Khetia, 28, is the founder of Tria Group, a Kenyan outdoor transit advertising firm that uses public transit vehicles to market leading consumer goods in Kenya. Tria, which was founded in 2013, already has annual revenues exceeding $1.3 million.
Not to mention, our top mechanics, constructors, ICT specialists, Medical Doctors, Teachers and Development graduates are young people. In Uganda alone, about 12,000 young professionals graduate annually: Some young professionals in Africa are working with no external funding to end child marriages, Female Genital Mutilation, Involving men, creating employment opportunities for peers, reducing impact of road traffic crashes, volunteering in their local communities. I think, the definition of ‘Young People’, or ‘Youth’ should be based on both the will, knowledge, practical and relevant skills that someone’s got. I have seen 27 year olds claiming to be ‘young’…still wanting to be baby-seated, being dragged by their parents to go to school and sort out their lives, smoking shisha all night, drinking themselves silly everyday, taking violence and fighting as a manly way of solving an issue, booty-licking politicians..name it. On the other hand, I have witnessed 14 year olds innovating, asking tougher questions, asking for evidence, and leading! Would it be wise to define such as ‘Young people’? We need to start (if you haven’t) seeing each other and acting as ‘Young Professionals’. May be then, we shall be judged by our results.