Time for the youth to play their part

25 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Time for the youth  to play their part

The Sunday Mail

The challenge given to the youths by President Mnangagwa on Wednesday at the National Youth Day central celebrations at the Mushagashe Vocational Youth Training Centre in Masvingo province was direct: “The young people of yesteryear played their part. You must play your part. The challenge is now yours.”

Throughout his address, the President kept stressing that while the youth in the liberation struggle had to fight, and sometimes die, they had achieved their goals of freedom, democracy and independence and created their legacy.

The struggle was now for development, to create a prosperous Zimbabwe, one where every Zimbabwean could benefit. And to a very large extent, this Zimbabwe would have to be created by the youths, the Zimbabweans who had the energy, the skills and the time.

“We did our work as youth, we fought and freed the country. What about you the youths? We want to know what you are going to do for the country. We brought about freedom, we brought about democracy, we brought about independence, we pass this baton to you.”

And he asked them to ponder, as the President and his generation reflect, on what they will leave behind, and even what they will look back on with pride as they move on through life.

“Youths today, what legacy are you building for your motherland Zimbabwe, what legacy are you going to leave behind?”

This is a pertinent question. As the years advance, no one wants to look back at the missed opportunities, the withdrawals and the shunning of challenges. Sometimes we do not always succeed in what we endeavour, sometimes things do not work out as we hope. But so what?

There is a huge difference between trying and only partially succeeding, and standing back, doing nothing, waiting for someone else to do the work.

Those who do try, who do try to live decently, who strive for what they see as best, can at least hold their heads up high, because they were involved and they were part of the process.

Those who wish to be spectators, who wish to be apart from the striving, will never have much satisfaction in life and never really look back with pride, even if they end up with a high income and wealth.

We need to reflect on what exactly it means for the youths to develop Zimbabwe. It is not some abstract ideal, meaning little. It is a highly practical challenge meaning a lot.

What it means is that each young Zimbabwean needs to “do their bit”, needs to have the determination and the drive to grab the educational and training opportunities that have opened up, and needs to create a better future for themselves and their families.

But it means more than just individualism run wild and being willing to trip up or give an elbow to those who compete or seem to be in the way. There is that need to do all this in a way that a young person today can look back with some pride in a few decades, that they not only did it effectively, but also did it right.

And when they were keeping a lookout, they were not looking out for those they could trip and remove from the running, but for those who might want a bit of help and certainly need some encouragement.

The President made clear what the requirements were.

“We look forward to the future with great confidence with you the younger generation who are taking on board and embracing our philosophy yekuti nyika inovakwa, igotongwa, igonamatirwa nevene vayo.

In other words, President Mnangagwa wants not just the development of Zimbabwe, but also the development done the right way, with the right motives. We can move forward, and more forward fast, but we can bring everyone with us, with all their different capacities and talents and so weave a decent and respected country.

He also brought this up in what was almost an aside, when he referred to sanctions. Yes, these have done damage, and they do slow down some development.

But on the other hand, Zimbabweans over the last few years have been working around them, and progressing forward faster than most countries in Africa and globally as a result, while, at the same time, being determined to be friends with everyone as we work to change minds. We do not have to accept the hand we were dealt. That sort of confidence and attitude is needed in our own everyday lives.

The Government does not expect the youths to do the work alone and unaided. They will be doing it as part of the whole fabric of Zimbabwe, although they are the largest and most important section.

The Government continually adds support, the vast expansion in tertiary education being one, the rapid opening of vocational youth colleges being another, so everyone can get skills that match the openings.

And there are more openings all the time, ways that youths with smart ideas and a sense of hard work and duty can progress. But the Zimbabwe we are building now has a very large element of being the sort of country young people want, and the challenge of the President was both to want what was right and being able to do the building in the right way.

Sometimes youths complain about aspects of their country, and the day young people are totally happy with what they see will be a sad day, for they will have given up.

But the solution is also obvious. Not only are they not being stopped from building up something better, they are also being positively encouraged to do so.

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