As I write this, I am thinking of the excitement everyone had at the polling center, especially the youth. Let me mark today, the 23rd June 2020 as the day Malawians went back to the polls to vote for a president after elections were annulled on February 3rd. We had a tripartite election last year on May 19, to which the opposition Malawi Congress Party and United Transformation Movement battled the results in court.
In the last year’s election, Prof. Author Peter Mutharika was announced as the winner, to which the result was met with countless nationwide demonstrations. However, with all that is happening, you can’t help to think that this is a blessing in disguise for our youth. A blessing in how it will turn the youth involvement in developmental issues across the country.
Also read: Malawi’s 2019 Presidential Results Annulled
As I stood on the line at the polling center, I couldn’t help but think that this was the perfect reset that was needed. Looking at events that have gone done in the past two to three years, you’d agree that as a country, we lost direction. So while the excitement is still in the air, I wanted to share with you all how we can maximize this opportunity that has availed itself to us. That is, the importance of youth involvement in developmental issues and politics.
Youth Involvement in Developmental Issues
I will never forget the 17th of May 2019 when Prof. Mutharika promised to transform Malawi to Singapore during his campaign trail. Just recently, he proclaimed that he would transform the country to the likes of Germany. And let us not forget the promises made by the opposition as well, most of which I find very intriguing:
- Lowering the fertilizer subsidy from K23000 to K4500
- Increasing the tax free band from K45000 to K100000
- Infrastructures such as Mzuzu University, Mombera University, City of Mangochi etc
These are all interesting developments that are really needed in this country. Question is, if either of them wins, are all the developments being promised really going to be achieved? Or are they empty promises made in the heat of the moment?
Where youth come in……….
In light of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, which Malawi agreed to, gives the best indicators of each of the 17 goals as a guide to know if the goals are really being achieved. However, at the center of all this is the YOUTH.
Almost 70% of the Malawian population is young people under the age of 45. Which is the most affected youth when it comes to unemployment and uncertainties. However, it is time we understand that we are the majority of the population and steer the country into becoming one that is inducive to each individual.
Like I said above, this is a blessing in disguise. A reset is what we needed as a youth to wake up and be alert. For so long we have been fed promises that have not been kept, by politicians who tell lies to keep their offices.
Youth are the catalysts of change, and we need to see ourselves as such. Be it old or new leadership that emerges, it is time we stood our ground and held offices accountable.
As a youth, we ought to monitor the developments being done. We need to rally ourselves as pressure groups to make sure developments are achieved. We need to start voicing out, set standards and adhere to them.
You might not have position, but in no way should you refrain from being a leader.
We have a power in our hands, SOCIAL MEDIA. It is time we used social media to good use and use it as a tool. A tool that can be used to acquire and share knowledge, to inform others. Through social media, we can all rally and ask for accountability.
At the same time, be interested in your residential areas and your members of parliament. Be interested to read developmental plans they have and check if they are being done. By being informed, you take away the power for some of those that hold positions to abuse them.
The youth of Malawi have been given the best opportunity to actually participate in development. We should not wait to be invited to the table, let us take up the spaces. After all, it is all for the betterment of our future.
I would like to hear your own take on what should be done in regards to youth involvement in developmental issues. Share your thoughts in the comment section and don’t forget to hit the like button.
2 thoughts on “Youth Involvement in Developmental Issues: A Definitive Moment for the Youth”
Let me start with a quote from Kailash Satyarthi who says “The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm, and courage of the young people.”
The quote captures well the REAL power of youth not just in Malawi but worldwide. I have always believed that the youth of Malawi are capable of achieving much much more than current levels. From your piece, you have adequately captured the youth monitors of development, as those capable of rallying peers to make sure developments are achieved, as capable of setting standards. However, youth are much more than that. Young people are innovators and dreamers, young people are problem solvers, young people are change makers. They have the potential to generate positive change in the world socially, politically, economically etc.
The question could be HOW to be this influential? I suggest several strategies the youth can influence and lead within their communities as follows:
1. Get Involved: whether you can take part in teaching, sporting events, environmental and conservation work, health spaces, community center, legal matters, tourism, agriculture or any other field, you can make a real difference if only you participate and engage! Start with local community and build on that.
2. Engage with Decision Makers: This applies especially with politicians such as MPs and Counsellors, young people ought to engage and follow up with their representatives on their plans, and how they balance up with the expectations of young people. Take them to task on their failure
3. Utilize Social Media Platforms Responsibly: Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube have the potential to widen your reach in terms of advocacy and engaging other like minded youth towards a common agenda. These are powerful platforms if used responsibly.
4. Empower Fellow Youth: This applies not only to “experienced” youth but everyone has the potential to empower and build others. Young people should aim to inspire others and build their potential to the maximum. Those who are built, build others.
5. Innovate: Think outside the box. Find new ways to do your things, try alternative methods of engagement and how you implement. Innovation should be the driving force behind everything we do.
6. Network and Collaborate: You cannot go it all alone, you will need partners, mentors, peers and like minded youth whom as a collective can achieve more. one drop of water doesn’t create a whole lake, rather billions and trillions of drops.
In conclusion, thanks Louisa for this piece and looking forward to more stuff from you.
I love how you have pointed out Social Media as a tool and a platform, it’s powerful yet more so underrated.
We need to harness it’s power to influence social change as young people especially now that we are in a digital age.
Movements for social change, development being birthed on social media have seen life on the ground.
It just has to begin with someone, and that someone could be any one of us.