Posts Tagged ‘Youth’

This was actually the first piece I wrote for Foresight for Development (originally published on their site), and I guess it was just me reacting to the ‘give me, give me’ attitude that we young people parade all over the place like we are entitled to certain things just because we are ‘young’. 

Enjoy!

If every young person had a pound each time we heard we deserved this, and that just because we make up a huge percentage of the population in Africa, we would all be very rich. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t last very long.

We would head right back to penury in a few weeks because a proverb says, “poverty, like palm oil, cannot help but soil every finger”. Another one says: “It is difficult to remain rich in the midst of poverty”. If the clamoring isn’t rising from the bottom to the top and if it is not all-inclusive, it won’t be very effective.
The calls for inclusion in decision-making in Africa, for the most part, are abstract. It is akin to seeking to fly where one has not first learned to walk steadily.

The rigor is largely misdirected. There are more people saying “give us” rather than people showing they are ready to ‘take it’. Even better people should be asking, “What can we do to help you give us”?

Truth is, young people (aged 15-25) make up a fifth of the world’s population, 20% more in developing countries than the 13% in developed countries. So, one would think that the demographic would not be ignored. But it is ignored, and for a number of reasons, including the age for electoral participation and political representation, a lack of capacity and knowledge about political laws and processes.  Consider all of this before we start talking about the widely touted issues around financing, youth being seen as the problem rather than the solution, compulsory youth quotas, etc.

“A youth-friendly legal system is an important component of an environment that enables youth political participation. Among the most important elements are the minimum voting age to vote but also to run in elections” (Enhancing Youth Political Participation, UNDP 2012).

Now, I believe that while we must be grateful for the African Youth Charter, note that there are 54 individual countries that make up Africa. Individual here meaning that there are different languages, levels of literacy and Internet saturation, religions, socio-economic indices, policies and realities, and traditional/tribal leadership structures that affect the way young people see themselves. The way we see ourselves is a much bigger discussion that preceeds or should preceed the one about inclusion in the national/international decision-making process.

Africa can therefore not be seen as a homogenous unit. Therefore the African Union Commission would be stronger and more effective as an advocacy/pseudo-lobbying group, by pressing African governments to consider/adopt laws/charters developed by their young people.

Bringing this home to Nigeria, young people must therefore know their laws before demanding things the constitution does not provide for. For example, demanding (especially online) for a certain percentage of leadership is foolhardy, because the constitution stipulates the ages of 40, 35, and 30 if a person aspires to be president, senator, house of representatives/state house of assembly member, respectively.

This means that as a first step there must be an agreement on the definition of ‘youth’. Advocacy in this instance should then naturally focus on lowering the age of eligibility, rather than using social media for the blanket demand, #30percent or nothing.

Youth must also reject tokenism or quasi-representation without any influence. We must reject being used for photo opportunities or for the sake of participation but instead challenge our laws to provide significant quotas for youth and women representation.

To be able to do these, young people have to do a few things:

  • We must come together and realize that chopping off an oak tree doesn’t start from celebrating a few branches that were knocked off by the wind. And so we must seek knowledge. We must show ourselves faithful in whatever little corners we find ourselves in; we must develop ourselves socially and intellectually.
  • Youth (and youth organizations) must see themselves as complimentary units of one body rather than competition, and seek opportunities to harness the power of our numbers.
  • We must see social media as a means to an end and not the end in itself, especially because of the circumstances surrounding Internet rates in Africa. We cannot base our campaigns solely online, like youth in Singapore with its national Internet and mobile penetration percentages of 84 and 137 respectively, can afford to do. What are we doing in our communities? How are we reaching the digitally excluded? Ben Rattray, founder and CEO of Change.org, said in a 2013 interview with NBC that, “when you marry petitions with social media, making petitions really personal and local, they have the incredible capacity to make a difference.” Our activism must go beyond signatures online and twiddling thumbs to actual influence in our local communities, if we want to be taken seriously.

Kofi Annan, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “No one is born a good citizen; no nation is born a democracy. Rather, both are processes that continue to evolve over a lifetime. Young people must be included from birth. A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed itself to death”.

We, in whose hands the future is to be entrusted, must be equipped and ready to cater for it.

P:S – I like guest writing. Let me know if you want me to write something for you/your organisation.

PPS – 85% of my external writing is paid for. The other 15% is free, depending on who/what it is for.

I met Belen at the Hope XXL Conference at The Hague in May, and she’s such a gorgeous, inspirational lady! I’m super proud of her, we were chatting a few days ago and she’s just gotten a scholarship to study for a Masters’ Degree in Spain! Super proud of you babe, and I’m definitely coming to visit!

Belu sent me a piece before, but to further confirm I need to shut every Yahoo account I own, I didn’t get it! By the time I reached out to her to ask, she’d written another one! Advance warning for y’all, I loved both pieces so don’t be surprised if she’s featured  twice. Enjoy!

My name is Belen, I am from Argentina and I work on government international cooperation.

This year has been quite intense. I have grown professionally, travelled a lot, and now Argentina is one step of away from winning the football world cup, which for us it is the greatest national glory.

Throughout this year I have tried to be close to people and experiences that inspire and challenge me in new and different ways. In particular, I want to share a trip that really made me think about the future. In May I travelled to The Hague for an international youth conference to debate on the major global current issues, and I was lucky to meet some extraordinary young people from all over the world. I met amazing activist and academics involved in politics, environment protection, poverty reduction, education, among many other issues.

While I was at the conference, I was inspired and I kept thinking that eventually I would find a way to help others and make a social –and even global- contribution. But I also thought that I am still too young to be making major local or global revolutions. I had the idea that I should “focus on building myself now to be able to focus on the world later”. Yet, by the end of the week I had met plenty of young bright people, and even younger than me, making tremendous impacts in every corner of the globe.  I didn’t notice at the time, it even took me a couple of weeks to realize the power laying in each one of them.

So this made me think about the ability to create change. If everyone in the world would support the same idea, wouldn’t it be true? No matter how crazy or out there it might be? Each one of us would then be a key factor of global change because we form part of the consensus built around it. Then it would necessarily have to become true, and change will be the new constant. So my biggest lesson was to consider myself a part – rather than an observer- of the changing forces around me. And my biggest challenge for the future would be to take this new perspective into action.

I am grateful for many things, but if I had to pick only a few, the most important one is the amazing people around me, specially my large and loving family. The second is the high quality education opportunities I was given, including full scholarships to undertake graduate and postgraduate studies in four different countries. And what I value most about scholarships is the responsibility to pay it forward that comes with them.

What I am looking forward for this half part of the year is to meet empowered and bright new people (like  you!) to join me in the transformation of future visions and ideas into concrete actions.

foto belu

While Argentina didn’t win the World Cup, I’m totally on board with change being the new constant! Eddie alluded to it a few days ago and it really says something that we’re hearing it again. What are you doing to improve yourself? Think about it!

Thank you Belu!

Back to the girls and out of Nigeria, we’re off to The Netherlands and a guest post from Paulien Boone, a super amazing lady I met in May! Before I talk about her successfully coordinating 70 delegates from three continents for the Hope XXL Summit (think applications, visas, travel, etc), can I just say she has a new initiative called the Paris Declaration? Check on it!

By the way, The Hague is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to, and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to go back!

My name is Paulien Boone, I am Dutch and I work for a nonprofit in The Netherlands. In the first half of 2014 I learned that I have a voice.

The year 2014 started off pretty great: I won a national essay writing contest on fundraising. The essay had to be about connecting with donors, and to my great surprise I won the contest and was awarded the title of “Young Fundraising Talent 2014”. This award did not bring about a big change in my life as a fundraiser for nonprofits, but it did make me realize something else: I love to write.

Even before the start of 2014 I had already registered my own website, the Paris Declaration, which is designed to help readers get the most out of their time on earth and change the world in the process. This is something I’m really passionate about, because I believe that it is possible to have a wonderful life, apply your talents and change the world at the same time.

This belief is not something I developed overnight. It is directly linked to the experiences I’ve had so far, with (mostly young) people deciding to become changemakers. It’s amazing to see what happens when someone discovers new talents while working on something they believe in. They grow as a person and as a changemaker, and it makes a big impact on their lives and on the people around them.

Unlocking this potential is something I want to contribute to, and something I want to learn more about by writing about it and connecting with others.

One of the highlights of the year so far was a couple of days during which I got to do exactly that: connect with an international group of amazing, talented and inspiring young people. They were all participating in a conference I organized in The Hague (Chioma took part as well!). This group confirmed the famous saying to me: our similarities are far greater than our differences. It inspired me to continue building the Paris Declaration to support them and many others. It also gave me the courage to launch it and commit to writing a new article every week. The inspiration brought about by this experience is something I’m truly grateful for.

I’m super excited about the second half of the year, which will be all about supporting readers with valuable content and offering an online home to all changemakers out there. The first six months of 2014 were dedicated to starting up, and now, at halftime, I can reflect and conclude that I can’t wait to grow further. Bring on the rest of the year, I’m ready!

Paulien

Gorgeous!!!

Thank you so much Paulien!

 

 

First time at Hillsongs in a couple weeks, and I was there early! Like, proper early, 15 or 20 minutes before! Was good to sit in front and catch my breath before worship started. I’d missed this!

Dan preached today, and it was so lovely to listen to a young person share the word with so much enthusiasm and excitement! Don’t get me wrong o, I love Pastor Gary James Clark, but there’s something about a young person flawlessly using scenarios around you to put that Word of God into you!

Dan taught on ‘All-in worship’, and our scripture was taken from Romans 11:26. Bibles and notepads out people? May God bless the study of His word, amen!

What is worship?  It is admiration, glorification, or adoration for something/someone, in this case, God. Everyone worships something, guys do the Premier League, ladies do Justin Bieber. But, we were created to worship only one person: God. Only Him.

Most of the problems we see today are because of the ‘i’ in the word ‘sin’. ‘I’, meaning ‘me’, ‘myself’; people the world over are poor because leaders choose to satisfy ‘me’, rather than cater to their people.

Hebrews 10:1-4

Everyday we see the power of God at work because Jesus died for us 2000 years ago. We respond to that with our worship. Who do you worship?

worship

[Photo credit – worshipmatters.com]

How do we worship? Worship is a lifestyle, laying everything we are and do at the foot of Jesus. It is not music; even though music is an expression of our worship, it is a lot more than singing and dancing in church.

Every single day, we have the opportunity to give God worship (or not), reflect HIm through the things we do, think, or say. If we think of our daily lives as total worship to God, we would act so differently!

Note that we always sacrifice something for anything we worship. If you worship

  • Alcohol – you sacrifice your liver, family, relations, etc. and you gain zilch
  • Food – you sacrifice cholesterol levels, health, finances, etc. and you gain nada
  • God – you sacrifice anything, lose nothing, but gain everything!

[Photo credit: lifechangingworship.com]

[Photo credit: lifechangingworship.com]

What happens when you worship? Romans 12:1-2

We transform into the image and likeness of God. John 4:23-24. Integrity is the person you are when no one is looking. Worship has to do with our spirits, our hearts, so don’t get hooked on style.

We’ve moved from hymns to contemporary, who knows the form worship will take 10, 20 years from now? It’s not about sticking to a form or culture of it, it’s about including the next person, adapting your worship/lifestyle so you can lead others to a place where they want to worship with you.

Bonus – how do you become a worship leader? Point people to Jesus using your words and your actions. Without the best voice, killer dance moves or skills with instruments, you can lead people to Jesus, and that’s the best form of worship.

Have a fabulous week!!! Merry Christmas in advance!