Talking Blues: A clarion call to the slumbering Malawi youth Dividend or disaster: report calls for increased investment in growing youth population

By Mapwiya Muulupale

“The oppressor would not be so strong if he did not have accomplices among the oppressed,” – Simone de Beauvoir

My quest this week is to discuss self-inflicted oppression that can only be redressed by the victims. I want to dare Malawi’s youth that it is time they learned that fortune favours the brave and begin to think global and act locally.

If Malawi youths can wise up and recognize that an empty stomach is not a good advisor and that their (and Malawi’s) prospects are correlated to the effort they invest in emancipating themselves from the prevailing mentality that youths shall live on handouts and handouts alone.

Let’s start with facts. 52 percent of Malawi’s population is aged 18 years and below. 70 percent of the population is aged below 30 years, and only about 4 percent is aged 65 years and older.

The median age of the population is about 18 years, and as you can see, Malawi is a young country.

Ironically, the youth – who are the overwhelming majority – have traditionally been relegated to the backseat in the decision-making process, even on issues that will directly affect the quality of their lives in years to come when those making bad decisions and shielding the corrupt low-lives today are long gone.

Let’s focus on politics and governance. Although Malawi is a young country, youth are under-represented. Further, they are governed by a minority – a selfish one.

Worse, this selfish minority’s priority is self-enrichment without regard for the environment under heavy man-made tress, and a national debt spiraling to God knows where with no tangible infrastructure to show for it.

A quick look at people in the executive, senior officials at Capital Hill, parastatals, and parliamentarians shows that the old guard – some recalled from retirement as if they are latter-day Roger Milla – is lording it over some middle-agers, who are just as selfish.

Youths, the majority of whom swallowed hook, line, and sinker the now-aborted million-job promise are at best, aimlessly loitering around, and at worst involved in prostitution to make an income as per the Ministry of Labour definition of so-called “jobs” created by the current administration.

The only progress recorded by youths in Malawi is graduating from cattle-herding to political party “youth leaguers and pioneers,” “young democrats,” “DPP cadets,” “Orange intellectuals,” UTM transformers, and lately, Sattar’s callboys on Facebook.

Why is this so?

It’s because the youths sell themselves cheap. They avail their energy en masse and at wholesale prices to wolves in sheep clothing who use, abuse, and politically sodomize them and, after winning elections, dump them.

The fundamental limitations for youths aspiring for office, high or low, public or private, are twofold.

The first is that youth are deemed inexperienced, and the second is that their own peers prefer to rally behind the old guard who – as per the president – use “unknowingly” acquired corrupt resources as bait.

These two are aggravated by stereotyping and a misconception that due to the youth’s zest for fast change, mistermed “impatience,” they lack the necessary temperance and wisdom to act wisely.

Before you swallow these excuses as gospel truth, let’s settle a few questions.

Let’s start with the perceived “lack of experience.” Give me two names, no, just one name of a person employed or holding public office that you know, who was born with “experience.”

Once you have done that, let’s dissect the lack of the ‘necessary temperance and wisdom.’ Look here, from independence to date, what has been the average age of our presidents when assuming office?

Now, tell me why despite this perceived “wisdom” manifested with age, Malawi’s peers at the bottom of the global poverty ladder are countries that have been ravaged by war.

When done, tell me the age when late Hon. Aleke Banda was assigned to very senior roles by late Dr. Hastings Banda and then cite one position in which he flopped in as youthful as he was. Do the same with the late Henry Chipembere and the other young ‘tigers.’

The perceived lack of experience, the wrongly presumed shortage of temperance, and the supposed deficiency of wisdom fallacies thus debunked; we should ALL agree that there is no reason for continued side-lining of youth.

Which takes us back to where we started: how and who can change this?

In my opinion, given that:

the oppressor would not be so strong if he did not have accomplices among the oppressed (Simone de Beauvoir);
the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house (Audre Lorde), and that;
no oppressor is going to give you the tools you need to overthrow them (Assata Shakur);
the ball is in the youths’ court, and indeed if they don’t take it upon themselves to fight for their destiny, who will?

Let me reiterate: more than fifty years after attaining independence, Malawi, thanks to “experienced, retired and recalled wise veterans” is still donor-dependent.

Are the youths to blame? NO.

But then again, YES, they are to blame for failing to wrest leadership from the old guard, bring Malawi to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR or Industry 4.0) where politics of maize and malata subsidies would have no place; where focus would be on the rapid adoption of technology, mechanization, and digitization.

However, this is asking too much of our youth.

I posit that they are even just as guilty of the looting because whenever a regime comes and institutionalizes grand corruption, the youth man the looting party’s brigade in the fight against those who would stop graft.

Take, for instance, the ongoing corruption Saga,

Top government officials making the life and work of ACB Czarina, Ms. Martha Chizuma are “youthful.”
Social media loudmouths denigrating Ms. Martha Chizuma 24/7 nonstop are youths.
The most vocal voices advocating for irredeemable thieves are youths.
Yet, it is a fact that for any country or society to progress, the youths must lead because, as you may have noted, revolutions have always been spearheaded by youths.

Hence, it is only when the Malawi youths take things into their own hands and wrestle control and halt the continued mediocrity and regression that they will be in a position to re-boot and revitalize the system and innovate with a fresh perspective and open-mindedness; all of which are currently in very short supply.

However, if Malawi youths do not claim what is rightfully theirs, no one will give them because no oppressor will provide them with the tools they need to conduct the much-needed revolution to Industry 4.0.

Are you up to it? I am talking to you, not the next guy. You.

Let me give you a hint: the economic oppressor would not be so strong if he did not have accomplices among the poor, whose resources he steals.

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