By Saleka Njumwa
Ladies and gentlemen, starting yesterday young men and women from various East African leadership organizations are converged in Arusha to discuss how to unlock the existing potentials and most important empowering them to be at the center stage of good governance practices.
As we reflect on the journey we have walked through as East Africa and African in general, we all agree that Africa is faced with three major challenges namely Poor Governance Practices, Conflicts and inability to be economically self reliant.
Today as we speak, East Africa suffers from these three major challenges which have rendered our people helpless and stripped off their own divinity and identity.
Today, Kenya is experiencing a serious political conflict where scores have been injured, lives lost and some fleeing their own Country. We have been divided along political inclinations and tribal lines.
Fidelity to the Constitution and institutions have become a narrative on paper. Uganda is facing the same governance issues, South Sudan, Rwanda,Burundi and even in Tanzania.
East Africa has not been spared . Yes we talk and hold serious multi Million Dollar conferences unlocking potentials of many young people however it has become tragic that Africa is cannibalizing it’s own children.
Today, we had a conversation with our Ugandan counterparts and they told us putting a Yellow T-shirt amounts to crime since its interpreted that you are in support of Museveni’s governance that has been marked with dictatorship ranging from Human rights abuse to economic slavery.
Egocentrism has replaced the virtues of good governance; the principles of democracy have been diluted. Leaders are elected in a system which we all share – the representative democracy however when they get to the offices, they first keep their interests first before those of the local men and women who gave them a chance serve them in these public offices.
The situation has been worsened by the kind of policies being enacted on day to day; policies that ensure stagnation of idea that are progressive and which will give the young generation a chance to alleviate its’ society from the social, political and economic injustices.
A lot of tax payers money is spent in big hotels in Kampala,Bujumbura, Kigali,Nairobi and so forth. Panelists drawn from globally recognized institutions paid huge chunks of money to develop policies geared towards empowerment of the local young men and women.
Ironically, these ideologies have never translated to emancipation of our young generation from their tribulations because of lack of inclusiveness in order to understand their needs and what best fits them.
This is the reason why a renowned write Robert Green once noted that no single day have the ideas of renowned scholars have transformed the society since they all reason in a similar manner.
It takes a simple and silly regarded idea to transform the world. For instance, when the uprisings for liberation in East Africa began and Christianity seen by a few as a means to colonize Africa, many cowards demonized all those who championed for the exist of the whites until we had our own freedom and realized that indeed self governance was Paramount.
Unemployment is the biggest challenge in East Africa and Africa in general. Governments have established partnership with donors and various policies enacted on the same.
However, the problem of unemployment will not be solved until the policies we enact are aligned with our education policies that is founded on the basis of patriotism.
We are known for exporting raw materials and labor which we later spend a lot of money to important yet we have the capacity to industrialize and create more employment opportunities to your people.
As we speak today, we have African leaders lack faith in our own institutions which they head. As we move across EAC today, thousands of graduates are conferred various degrees.
The tragedy is that we lack faith in these institutions and as we speak today, EAC suffers from a crisis of half backed graduates.
A recent report cites that 67 % of our graduates have no relevant skills to enable them compete effectively in the job markets and innovative ideas .
The problem is not the graduates but the government and its leadership. African leaders want to cling on to power until death strikes. This can only be achievement by slaving the minds of many and reducing its young generation to a generation of pleading.
We produce engineers who are reduced to foremen during construction of roads by Chinese and not engineers who can build African road.
We produce Agricultural Extension Officers but we still flood our markets with Pakistan rice yet we have the best climate for rice growing in Mwea ,Kenya and in Moshi.
Why can’t we ensure we fully fund our agricultural sectors and empower our farmers by providing extension services and subsidised fertilizers and later sell the rice within ourselves since we already have an existing potential market.
Africa has no moral audacity to seek donor support in order to deal with the wide spread hunger where young children have been subjected to malnourishment.
We have the vibrant young generation which can be empowered to run agricultural schemes which will feed our own people instead of importing corn meant for horses in Spain and Brazil.
We have doctors who we don’t have faith in; when government officers are sick, they are admitted to expensive hospital in EAC ; managed by Whites and Indians and at times flown abroad who what they have branded as specialized treatment.
Ironically, the Doctors and Nurses in these hospitals are our own sons and daughters who schooled in public schools, went to the university through the help of the community pooling resources together to have all the knowledge they have.
Why can’t we set aside enough budgets to build modern health facilities, train specialists and ensure enough medicine is available yet we have the capacity.
Why can’t we ensure their is sustainable social security which is coherent to our current challenges?
The education system is diluted. It is theoretical and doesn’t focus on impacting skills and the tragedy has been EAC and Africa importing labor from China.
No wonder African leaders take their children to private schools where they are taught using the British curriculum that focus on the technical knowledge more than theory part of it while the children of poor locals are left to struggle in the dilapidated classrooms with one single teacher handling 100 pupils and rampant strikes at the verge.
Even the political class has no trust in our institutions.
As we reason together on how to build the potential of your youth, let us focus more on the realities and how best we can conduct audits for these forums as a means of enhancing accountability to the donors and doing justice to our communities.
We need to move away from misplaced priorities and giving focus to issues that matter to support lives unlike what is currently happening in Africa where governments allocate more funds during the budgetary process in purchase of artillery claiming that they want to ensure their is enough security to each citizen.
Security will exist where opportunities are offered equally and also based on the principles of equity as well.
It is time for the youth to rise up and have their voices heard.
The writer is a Political analyst, Public Policy Expert & Governance Advisor