On June 16 we celebrated the International Day of the African Child — a day that was declared by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now called the African Union, in 1991 in commemoration of the Soweto uprising of June 1976.
The youth challenge
With 60% of its 1.25 billion people under the age of 25, Africa has the youngest population in the world. This young majority, however, is not being represented in government or any of the other relevant social spheres.
Youth in the Bible
In Numbers 14:29, God said: “Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me”.
All but two of the Israelites who were over the age of 20 were brought out of the wilderness into the Promised Land. God moved a predominantly youthful generation into the Promised Land simply because they did not carry an enslaved mindset. They were not held captive by wrong ideologies and anti-Kingdom mindsets.
I believe that in this season, God is ready to use a generation of young people who have Kingdom mindsets and are ready to take the nations by the hands and facilitate their alignment with their redemptive Kingdom purpose!
The repentance of the older generation
To the extent that the older generation has hampered the youth’s progression in any way, they must repent. The mandate of the older generation must line up with Proverbs 22:6 and other relevant scriptures to teach, train, equip and mentor the young people. That is so that they will become gatekeepers of the land who will stand at and possess the gates of their nations. The older generation must facilitate this process and not hinder it in any way!
In Africa, this means that the older generation will need to deal with an African mindset and culture that leans towards dismissing and not recognising the youth. The principle of “seeing but not hearing” young people is unbiblical and must be relegated to the archives, where it belongs.
It is the youth, who have more recently, put presidents in power and dethroned some world leaders. The older generations of Joshuas and Calebs who can recognise the gifts, talents and strengths of the youth will be graced as mentors in this season and will journey together with this generation into the Promised Land.
Youth are passionate and creative. We must engage that passion in areas of governance and matters that affect the nation or prepare to have to deal with their possible involvement in drugs, robbery, corruption, armed groups and terrorism.
We cannot allow that passion and energy to be manipulated by gangs and terrorists with selfish ambitions. It is time that their strength, creativity, innovation and energy be recognised and properly channelled.
If we fail to engage the youth in Africa and utilise their gifts and position them appropriately, we must prepare to face a brain drain in Africa. In 2010, former US president Barrack Obama started YALI, the Young African Leader’s Initiative. Two hundred of Africa’s best young leaders were sent to the US to develop skills and connections.
How many of those young people have returned to Africa to apply and implement those skills? Africa should be developing her own “think tanks” for the youth that will include the development of their skills.
The youth are not our future, they are our present!
In a recent Zoom meeting with Minister David Speirs (the Minister of Environment in Australia), he described the youth as the “present”. Our mindset must change in this season. The youth are not our future, they are our present.
Going forward we need to engage and consult with the youth more actively in key decision-making areas and include their contributions in formulating national policies, strategies, and plans of action.
We need to ensure that there is appropriate funding for the development and training of a new generation of leaders. These youth leaders must be trained not only to grow their skills, but also in the areas of serving and transformational leadership, and above all to develop their character and integrity.
Focus should be placed on youth in the rural areas and townships. Youth must be trained in the area of entrepreneurship and technopreneurship to deal with the 46% post-Covid unemployment statistics among the youth (Gauteng stats). We must encourage the youth to provide solutions to the economy.
The youth should be engaged and trained to be representatives in public. In a recent webinar with Hon John Paul Mwirigi, his testimony of door-to-door campaigning and winning his constituency as an independent candidate was very encouraging. Notably, he was elected Member of Parliament for Igembe South Constituency, Meru County, in the Kenya National Assembly in August 2017, at the age of 23, becoming the youngest MP Kenya has ever had.
Botswana has also been charting a new path in its appointment of youth in key decision-making posts. At the tender age of 30, Bogolo Joy Kenewendo, was appointed in 2018 as Botswana’s youngest cabinet minister and given the important portfolio of Investment, Trade, and Industry.
It’s time for Africa to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying in this season!
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