‘The hopes of the world rest on young people. Peace, economic dynamism, social justice, tolerance- all this and more, today and tomorrow, depends on tapping the power of youth,’ – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
Today, August 12, 2018 is the United Nations International Youth Day and the theme for 2018 is Safe Spaces for Youth.’ United Nations summed up the justification for 2018 theme as follows: ‘there are currently 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world. This is the largest youth population ever. But 1 in 10 of the world’s children live in conflict zones and 24 million of them are out of school. Political instability, labour market challenges and limited space for political and civic participation have led to increasing isolation of youth in societies.’
According to the United Nations, the day’ serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.’
My interest today is the role of youths as ‘essential partners in change’ as same agrees with our #TheSAFE4MEMovement, which we launched on the World Children’s Day, November 20, 2017. The focus of the movement is call attention to all forms of abuse that our children and youths are exposed to and their roles in their personal safety and self-protection, through the inculcation of the right value system. The movement is an outreach both young people and their caregivers (primary and secondary).
It is in the light of #TheSAFE4MEMovement, which we consider to be the heart cry of today’s young people in Africa that I make comments on the theme of the 2018 theme of the United Nations International Youth Day.
While I am conscious that by the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a child is anyone below 18 years of age and by the general definition of the United Nations, a youth is anyone between the age bracket of 15-24, please note that for the purpose of this piece, by children and youths, I refer to the age brackets 0-21.
Permit me to declare upfront that the number threat to Safe Spaces for Youth is not the conflicts, lack of education, shelter, health services, and engagement in all forms of seemingly uncountable vices they are exposed to day. I think the real threat Safe Spaces for Youth is the war that is waged on the minds of our youth. Safe Spaces must first exist as a value system in the minds of our caregivers and custodians of the minds of our youth, who must deliberately inculcate same in the minds of our youth. The goal must be to help our precious children and youth to appreciate and take full ownership of the immense benefits of Safe Spaces for Youth. It is upon the foregoing foundation that they could be enlightened on their roles in creating same and how to take full responsibility for same.
I think the war on the mind of our precious children and youths has existed time immemorial. Adolf Hiller declared, as we planned the pogrom, which is today known as the Second World War, which claimed 62 million people (2.5 % of the population of the world then), ‘I want to raise a generation of young people, imperious, relentless and cruel.’
It is important to note that no cause, positive or negative has a future without the deliberate and active initiation of children into same. Hitler recognised this truth and set in motion a mission to achieve same.
It is important to note that the vision like Hitler’s has always been constant. It is the mode of expression that has changed. The attack on the impressionable and ‘absorbent’ minds of our precious children and young people today have only been enhanced by the undue democratization of information through the new media, in which social media is one of the most prominent features.
Permit me to round off this discussion today, as I do not intend to take you on this ride for too long lest you succumb to the temptation of losing interest.
I will continue this discussion tomorrow, believing that I will meet you refreshed and good to go in working with like minds to secure Safe Spaces for Youth.
Do have an INSPIRED week.
I am Taiwo ‘ODINAKACHUKWU’ AKINLAMI (The Preacher) and I Speak for the Precious African Child