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Opinion

African Youths and the Challenge of Mentorship

King Alexander the Great after he had conquered so many nations said, “there is still more world to conquer!” This statement stands true for our youths today especially in the face of growing discontentment with happenings across Africa. Although with few success stories and numerous capacities, Africa remains a cocoon of absurdities defined by poverty, corruption, killings and there’s still so much that can be achieved.

In the face of these challenges, Africa’s young remain unperturbed, with only a handful seeing the opportunities that abound. Africa’s teeming young are at the verge of giving up – deserted, doubtful, depressed and done. Is it a problem of vision, system or what exactly? How can youths be helped to begin to see things differently? How can they go all out to be all they can be?

Young people occupy a unique place in the life every society. They are the major “social capital” of every society concerned with change for a better today and for the future of its members. This explains the attention, resources, and investments made towards their education and socialization. The result, however, is that Africa ignores mentorship that the youth requires to compete in our present world as the educational processes of young people hardly go beyond preparing them to acquire certificates. Many youths in Africa are left to deal with unimaginable situations and extremely difficult daily lives which affect their dreams and aspirations for their futures. Some of them experience trauma, discrimination, suffering, atrocities and abuse and others have to take on responsibilities well beyond their capacities.

The contemporary reality of the huge population of unemployed youth makes the attention to how they can be best harnessed. Besides coming up with ways to reach the youth, mentorship to provide escape routes from their reality and give them windows to dream about a future other than the one in which they are raised is critical. Particularly, Africa needs a model of mentorship that inspires young people to learn from problem-solving, exploration and imagination where youth repeatedly see and hear that they are valued and important, learn to build a foundation for critical thinking and a lifetime love for mentorship where the needs and opinions of youth are included.

Influential statistics tells that 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and about 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35. Africa is no doubt the largest reservoir of the youthful population who are intrinsically ingenious and productive. While some studies have revealed that the African continent is poised to nurture and enlarge through technology developed by young people, it is necessary for the Africa to rethink its policies towards empowering more youths for the development of the continent.

Our continent is absolutely poised to grow through technology developed by young entrepreneurs.  To truly spur innovation and economic growth, we must look at how we support our entrepreneurs. Great ideas and hard work are vital to entrepreneurial success, but young leaders also know that improving access to incubators and mentors will help those young innovators become thriving business owners.

With half of the continent’s population under 25 years, Africa no doubt holds the world’s largest reservoir of young people. However, very few of these young people are involved in shaping the conversation on the future of the continent. It is essential that all leaders embrace and shore up young people to succeed and show them how they can impact the future. Just as entrepreneurs need mentors to help them develop an idea into a business, our leaders must engage with young people like myself on issues if we want an engaged, active generation of leaders.  In the same way, young people are just as obligated to seek those opportunities for engagement as our leaders are to engage them.

Today, the common consensus is that there is a need to develop creative ways to help youth explore, discover, harness their potentials and leverage available resources in their environment to advantage. Understanding of how youth process information, how they perceive, learn from, conceptualize and act upon what they see and hear will go a long way in ensuring that what they learn is effective and empowering. The principles of mentorship must be exciting, participatory, based on needs the two-way process of sharing knowledge and experiences, systematically planned to achieve positive, result-oriented and measurable objectives.

AmanamHillary Umo-Udofia is a C4D Expert and Digital Communications Specialist. He tweets at @amanamhillary

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