Africa's youth must do for Africa

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) initiative has been described as the only plan with a realistic chance of helping Africans get to grips with, and find solutions to, the many problems that dog their continent.

The brainchild of President Thabo Mbeki and his Senegalese and Nigerian counterparts, Abdoulaye Wade and Olusegun Obasanjo, Nepad is acclaimed as a true blueprint out of Africa’s seemingly perpetual cycles of civil strife, disease and technological backwardness.

“Nepad,” proclaim newspaper editorials, “is the only game in town, the only realistic chance for Africa to catch up on lost ground. So, Africans had better be prepared to give it their all.”

What do African youths think of the initiative to find African solutions to African problems? “For a start we have to begin thinking positive and believing in ourselves as a people—and more so we the youth who must carry the objectives of Nepad to higher levels,” says South African Youth Commission spokesperson Monde Mkalipi.

“The youth must begin to explore ways to better their lives and those around them by getting more involved in such important initiatives, to make them work better.

“We have to ask ourselves: how can we, for instance, acquire more knowledge in information and communications technology that we can harness to create jobs, run businesses better, or improve the quality of life?

“For me, it is very important to have a belief in ourselves as African youth that we can make such things a reality and Nepad provides a very important platform for doing so.”

The general perception in South Africa though is that very few people have a good grasp of Nepad and its objectives, which to many means half the struggle therefore is to create better awareness before the initiative can take-off.

“Of course, not everyone knows what Nepad is all about and every effort must be made to teach the people about it,” says Mukoni Ratshitanga, former director of communications in the Limpopo Department of Finance. But he dismisses suggestions that this can greatly hamper the plan.

“We must not forget that even in America such great initiatives as the New Deal that led to economic recovery in the 1930s was not an initiative about which everyone had a good grasp. They just worked enthusiastically on it, therefore making a success of it.”

The important thing, according to a number of young people, is not that everyone should know everything about Nepad, but that it is a workable plan. “We only ask that the political goodwill by leaders be a sustained one, for as they know, it cannot work otherwise,” says Ratshitanga.

“Indeed we want to help ourselves; we welcome the chance to shape our own destiny; we are fed up with having other people do our thinking for us, and so we shall naturally strive to make an initiative like Nepad a success,” he adds.

Apparently, for young people turning today’s Nepad dream into tomorrow’s reality is a very worthy objective.

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