The challenge of African youth unemployment is not about to end

The challenge of African youth unemployment is not about to end

A young man asked me recently how life was before smartphones and how we did survive. In reply, I told him we used our brains not phone applications, read books, and not just listened to audiobooks, made mature debates as opposed to insults and vulgarities shared on social media.

The smart young man was in agreement with me and even quoted Bill gates as having said that you need it to make your customers lazy if you want your product to remain relevant and indispensable.

The African youth have become end-users and mare customers of the technology. They take much pride in being able to download pictures, research, designs, music beats, and lyrics for their “new” songs yet this is another form of plagiarizing.

That is why our products rarely attract the international market.

The pre-colonial times had what the Europeans considered informal education but in fact, it was apprenticeship boys acquired fishing, blacksmith, backcloth making skills alongside hunting and farming.

There was an assurance that everyone had an occupation. According to Edward Meredith in his book “The History Of Africa For the last 5000years, he notes that In Buganda there was plenty of food in the banana plantations to cater for the families. The excess is what was sold in batter trade to get other items.

The era towards independence, saw Africans advance the Pan-Africanism using skills taught by colonial masters, they learned to advance the African cause, promote African literature, art and music.

This was alongside the African craft skills like making baskets, mats, carpentry to instill some creativity among learners.

Employing of the house helps was normally left to the rich and working parents. In the villages, shamba boys worked alongside children of the house.

The 1970s saw lots of coups in Africa. Help was sought from the west from the very people who supported the coups and were now afraid of the dictators they had raised who were turning against their (the west’s) selfish interests.

Many professionals of the time and intelligent people were either killed or ran to exile seeking political asylum.

Villages turned into battlefields. There was rural-urban migration as young men now looked for jobs that fetched quick cash as compared to farming.

There was access to services that were near European standards of electricity, tap water, tarmacked roads, and entertainment this new lifestyle brought along with it the rural-urban excitement.

Some young men felt comfortable leaving in small rented rooms, starting a family there as opposed to being part of the bigger family land upcountry enjoying the nightlife and the little safety from the ranging war in the bush villages.

Slums with conditions next to the Jewish ghettos mushroomed on the peripheries of major trading towns and cities as the houses were cheaper and were located within walkable distances from their workplaces in factories or homes of the rich.

The pre-independence pan-Africanism went silent like dying winds of a heavy storm as politicians fought for their “permanent stay” in their political seats while those opposed to them choose armed struggle, sabotage, or manipulation.

The youth were left on their own. The population was bursting and no one had time to plan for its growth. Jobs grew fewer with the collapse of many industries.

In academics, scholarships were awarded to the top crème with the highest grades, the examinations set based on how much one remembered what was taught as opposed to how one would apply the skills learned.

Students read, crammed, some passed others were not that lucky but the end result was to hate reading, abandon talents outside class, ignore creativity(because being creative would lead to failures in the examiners’ eyes)

Today, many youths get certificates but can not apply the knowledge taught.

Like someone noted that in the USA when applying for a job, they are more interested in how you will do it, in Britain it is where you acquired the skills in German how you apply the skills and in Africa, it is about who seconded you.

An average of 19 years of school ( nursery, primary, secondary & university ) tired, never given an opportunity to think for them sleeves you would not blame them for opting for phone applications, Mr. Google, for quick answers because even the lucky ones that get jobs after school are consumed by the trend of instant life, ( instant, coffee, instant cash, instant milk, miracle, quick boda transport.

You don’t expect this lot that has not tested the patience of growing maize for months before harvest to have the patience of seeing a business grow many of whom have lived in the “comfort” of the city or been raised in the slum parked parts of towns.

Governments, on the other hand, have put up heavy taxes for starters suffocating small businesses with taxes at the same time protecting foreigners with tax holidays, free land, and access to loans that are interest-free as start-up capital.

The youth then resort to quick cash jobs to meet the rental fees and put food on the table. Boda boda transport, chapatti stalls, second-hand clothes shops, saloon, and other small businesses that require small capital and fewer skills.

Farming is no longer profitable as advocated by the media, produce either perish or is given away at a price that barely covers the cost of seeds.

For this reason, the youth that earned a little saving from their small businesses either spend it on entertainment in a bid to forget their worries or blow it up in bets with the hope that they will hit a jackpot that will see them get the long dreamed capital.

There would rather have the augments based on what they had than spend their free time reading which would remind them of the wasted school days of cramming.

Unfortunately, it is this lot of young people that will take over leadership in most African countries in the near future and the older generation is unbothered as long as their offsprings enjoy the comfort of traveling first class and going to international schools at the moment.

Absolom Lubwama

Contributor, The Postdale Daily

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