• February 7, 2024

Who are we without our Youths?

Who are we without our Youths?
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By Alusine Fullah

As a country, perhaps the question is not what is the role of our youths in nation building but who are we without our youths? What memories do we have to fuel our souls if it is not the memory of our youthful days? Honestly, if Sierra Leone is to be linked/ likened to human body the youths are the heart. What is body without a heart?

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A human cadaver that is what we are without our youths. As a country we need to aware of the significance of our youths in nation building. Let us design policies and projects that will place them at the zenith of achievement. The tragedy of young people in Sierra Leone is like the tragedy of the nation rich yet so poor, strong yet so weak.

So many descriptions have been given to our youths. Some see or call them as liability instead of an asset. Until we make a paradigm shift our perspective the potentials of youth to transform this country to an oasis of peace and development remain to us a mirage. In Sierra Leone our ruff history has forged an incestuous relationship between the word youth and a distance cousin thug to connote violence in the minds of people. There are various images/ psychological belief that the youth in Sierra Leone are reckless and lazy. In other words, the word youth conjures images of stone throwing, machete wielding, stick swinging, stealing glass smashing, cocaine sniffing, kush smoking. Our history of war has preserved in the national psyche as if is some priceless obelisk of a proud heritage. To a greater extent, the dominant image of violence and drugs taking in youth discusses has silhouetted other fine qualities of our young people and marred their massive contributions to peace building and national development. As a journalist, I want to change the narrative. Contrary to popular view, I boldly and confidently believe that youth are the greatest asset of our nation. According to Prof. Lumumba: “The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible, and achieve it, generation after generation.” That was how Joe A.D Alie attempted his literary/ academic work when he was a youth. That was how John Nash propounded his theory of equilibrium and that was the era when the Wright brothers performed one of the greatest aviation feats. That was how Vishen Lakhiani founded the MindValley Foundation and wrote his bestselling book: ‘The Code of Extraordinary Mind.’ That was how Martin Luther King Jr. started advocating for the black people in America. Yes, it was a group of youths that fought for the independence of Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, etc. It was in the period of youth that Jesus Christ, Mohammed (SAW), Moses, Ibraham, Kadijah, Mary, Abubakarr Sedik, etc unleashed their light to the world. There is hardly an iconic moment in human history that did not happen in the prime/ youthful age of the inventor’s life. Indeed, the youths are powerful.

Our youths have fought all the wars of the world. In Sierra Leone for instance, it was our youths that fought and ended the 11 years’ war. They offer security in our borders while we debate their significance, they played our matches; they drove our vehicles; they dominated our banking sector. They dominated the medical field. They dominated the teaching field. They dominated the field of politics. It is the youths that reported the news and guided the nations in their editorials. Indeed, they are the prime movers of our societies and they are the fuel lubricating the machinery of state.

This piece will not end, if I don’t duff my hat for the massive contributions of the following young people to our nation building. Dr. Nana Claris Efua Prat. Dr. Pratt has added her voice in every, and I underline every, discourse that involves women and girls across the country, the brain for plethora of projects and fantastic polices that today contribute to making Sierra Leone a safer place for girls and women. Yes, she contributed to the development of Sierra Leone’s Twin polices on the advancement of women and gender mainstreaming in 2000 and spearheaded as a consultant, the crafting of the Sierra Leone Women’s Manifesto, first developed in 2002. Kudos to her! It was she who heartily said: “I will never stop defending women’s rights to participate in every field of endeavour, women, girls, men and boys should be equally benefit from the national development pie.”

In addition, permit me also to give my warm salute to Brigadier Kestoria Kabia, a woman who has risen from all ranks and files in the military. She contributed immensely in inspiring women in the military. Indeed, in 2015, Madam Kabia is a woman in military boots, the only female Brigadier in all of west Africa and the assistant Chief of Defense Staff, Gender and Equal Opportunities.

I will also not forget the massive contributions made by Marie Bob Kandeh in terms of promoting gender equality. She was the secretary General of the Sierra Leone Market Women’s Association and is well known among the rural and community women, and respected by her peers nationwide for her genuine efforts in seeking and promoting their interest, settling disputes between marriage couples. It was she who said: “I did not know what I was doing gender activism or…until I started receiving calls from both local and international development partners…that is how my gender activism became official.” Let us now turn the baton to Mohamed Kallon, the man who has shaken his hands with heaven in term of sports both nationally and internationally. Yes, the first Sierra Leone football star player to touch/ play in international fields. In other words, he was the pathfinder to play international football games in this part of Sierra Leone. He owns a national football club: F.C Kallon. Permit me also to duff my hat to our youthful lecturers, Dr. Francis Sowa, James Tamba Lebbie, Tanu Jalloh, Shaku Putka Kamara, etc for their massive contributions in moving the field of communication/ journalism from grass to grace. All of the above names are youths. Believe it or not, the youths in Sierra Leone have contributed immensely in all works of life. Indeed, of all the hurdles and social problems they have faced yet they still continue to make huge mark on the lives’ of the aged and society at large. I want to heartily duff my hat to the many, many other dutiful and stoic youths including those who are suffering in reticence across all regions in Sierra Leone.

 

Conclusively, let us stop calling them bad names! If we address their problems, surely, peace and prosperity will prevail in Sierra Leone. Believe it or not, young people have presented this country with vast resources like the mineral resources we have in Sierra Leone. Their fate is inextricably bound to that of the nation. They fail Sierra Leone fails!! We are using youthful energy to propel this nation to reach the apex of development. In every faction society, we are using the gift of youths to jettison poverty in our flight to the zenith of human possibilities. Let us embrace them and open more doors for them.

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