Written by ASFL Senior Local Coordinator, Stephen Oyedemi.
On this International Youth Day, I want to congratulate every youth like myself for the powerful and wonderful roles we play in the society and all the moves, small and big that we are taking to create a better world. We are indeed the engine of growth and development in every society.
The African continent is endowed with enormous human capital – diverse, beautiful and vibrant people. Unfortunately, the continent has not been able to maximise its resources to position it at the level it should have reached by now. Across the continent, senseless wars are been fought, low percentage of children have access to basic education, and many are dying of malnutrition and curable diseases. Corruption and nepotism have seriously hindered growth and people’s freedoms are stifled and denied by oppressive governments.
Civil rights violation is still a major issue and as African youths, we should confront it. In some parts of Africa, people born with albinism are targeted, killed and used for rituals.; these people like every other people who should have their rights to live and fulfil their purpose without abuse and attacks. The dignity of women should be paramount and they should be free to choose what is and what is not important to them. Women shouldn’t be humiliated and forced into early marriage as it is especially prevalent in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Niger and Chad, 75% and 68% respectively of women are married off before they are 18. The rights of women to maternal health and reproductive rights should be entrenched in the consciousness of our society and people should be free to choose how they want to live their lives as long as they do not prevent others from doing the same. Everyone should be free from abuse of whatever kind from the government or any other setup in our society.
Peace is an essential component of overall human development and flourishing. When there is peace, people will be enabled to trade more provided there are no restrictions to trade; by so doing there will be widespread prosperity. Too many wars have been fought, too many damages have been done, and it is time to look away from the destructive temptation of conflicts and wars. As African youths, peace should matter to us and we should advocate it with our character everywhere we find ourselves. We should be embodiments of what we advocate.
Our individual liberty is extremely important and within it lies our right to define our value and belief systems, what we want and what we do not want, how we desire to be treated and not to be treated, to own properties, to quench our thirst for knowledge without barriers and to live our life without fear or intimidation, as long as we do not obstruct others in their expression of these same rights. This is why liberty and peace should matter to us as African youths; and we should continually pursue the values of liberty, peace and development in our communities and countries to ensure a greater future.
History has taught us that vigilance is paramount in ensuring and preserving freedom. Therefore we must continually challenge authorities in order to conquer oppression, dominance and injustice.
Once again, Happy International Youth Day!