The Reality Facing The 21st Century Youth Of Africa; The Thought Of A Ghanaian Youth



The phrase “The youth are the future leaders of Africa” is one of the most common phrases every youth who have had the opportunity to listen to a development lecture or a seminar by a renowned person or youth coach in Africa has ever heard.

This phrase seems to suggest that, the survival of the African continent largely depends on the actions and inactions of the youth. This phrase seems to give so much hope to young Africans as the youth is made to believe to be the heirs of the continent. However, in spite of this soul satisfying words, the African youth is confronted with lots of realities.

It is indeed true that, the 21st century African youth has to face this realities of life.

The reality of having to spend over 25 years in school only to graduate to join a long queue of unemployed graduates.


The reality of surviving based on “who knows you”.
The reality that politics seem to be the easiest way to make it in life.
The reality of being told as a youth to be creative and innovative when the systems and structures suggest otherwise.
The reality of having to undertake internships and volunteering opportunities in order to survive but hardly get employed.

Just as it is done in most schools, the lecturer on the first day seeks to engage the students, know their background and how to effectively meet the expectations of students. In one of my post-graduate lessons, the lecturer got in and after the class introduced ourselves, almost 75% of the class aside national service have never been gainfully employed before. The lecturer on a lighter note said. “Eiiiiiii, this is strange, so you all came back for your master’s degree because you couldn’t find jobs? However seeking knowledge is better than engaging in this political vigilantism and unnecessary social vices”. These words have always comforted my heart as I ponder over what to do with my life after my post graduate program with this reality facing the African youth.

As young persons, some of the favorite motivational quotes we were told include.
“Education is surely the key to success”
“Seek first the kingdom of education and all others shall be added up unto you”

Most African youth ask themselves if education is no longer the key to success or whether the padlock to success has been changed. This is due to the reality that, some graduates with PhDs and master’s degrees are struggling to survive.

The youth have been promised heaven in political party manifestoes. We would have settled for “Garden of Eden” or even considered “earth” but the sad reality is that, it seems hell is what is being delivered.

With all these realities staring at our faces, surviving seem to be difficult but can we give up?

Do we want the next generation after our generation to face these woes?

It took the efforts of the youthful intelligence of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandella among others to lead the struggle for independence. It took the charisma and bravery of Jerry John Rawlings and Thomas Sankara among others to restore hope and confidence in their countries. The youth have done it in the past and surely we can do it again.

This is the time for us as African youth to eschew and abandon unnecessary acts that destroy and decay the future of our continent. Say no to political vigilantism, drug abuse, illicit trading, internet fraud and other social vices.

What gives me hope as an African youth is the fact that;

There are many of the youth who are studying seriously to acquire knowledge to address the problems confronting our continent.

There are a thousand of youth working effortlessly to earn a decent living

There are so many youth out there, thinking and making efforts to kick start their own businesses and enterprises to address the high rate of unemployment.

There are many elderly who have devoted themselves to train, equip and impact positively on the youth on how best to make it in life.

There are several donor funded projects and interventions equipping the youth to develop feasible solutions to our problems.

As African youth, we should be willing and ready to make and learn from our own mistakes rather than being in our little corner hoping for bread to fall from heaven.

To my fellow Ghanaian youth and all other youth across the continent, as we ponder and resolve to take up roles and innovative ideas as youth to change the fortunes of this continent, let us always keep in mind a very common marching song during our basic school days.
“Arise Ghana youth for your country; the nation demands your devotion; Let us all unite to uphold and make our nation great and strong. We are all involved.”

Kwame Ohene-Ntow

The writer is a graduate student of Development Policy and Planning at KNUST and an alumnus of Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).

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