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By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
8th April 2013
George Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright, observed some time back, ‘what a pity that youth must be wasted on the young.’ The young are the youth and as such, they are full of energy, vibrancy, creativity and hope. They can dream dreams and work strenuously and stridently to translate their dreams into reality. They are also adventurous and risk-takers. It is only when you get into the prime of life, approaching the evening of your life, or when you are over the hill, that you realise you have missed and wasted many fleeting opportunities in your youth, either you were too tardy and not aggressive enough, or you were too comfortable with your parents providing for you.
It is not how long you live that matters but what you achieve in the lifespan that God has given you. Alexander the Great of Macedonia conquered the then known world from Europe all the way to India before he died at the young age of 34. Bob Marley, the reggae superstar and maestro, achieved a lot in his short lifespan which ended in 1981 at the age of 37. I recently read online about a 17 year old boy in the UK called Aloisio, who had developed an internet application which he has sold to Yahoo at a whooping sum of $30million dollars. With passion and interest, the youth have the capacity to ride the waves.
The older generation, do not owe our youth a living. The youth in Ghana have a duty to carve a niche for themselves by taking the bull by the horns. The older generation, only have to support them and facilitate their passage through life by giving them opportunities to use their talents productively. The youth need not pursue megalomaniac goals but rather, they should set themselves reasonable and realistic targets. What advice do I offer the youth in Ghana today? I will enjoin them to follow the following pillars of strength to build their careers.
Why am I addressing the youth today? I recently received email from a 20 year old Ghanaian youth, residing in Ghana, who wants me to be his role model and he had asked me to mentor him. Having been a youth before, and having been through some storms of life in my more than six decades of life, I thought I should share my experience with the upcoming youth of Ghana. Despite the gnawing global recession and high levels of unemployment among the youth world wide, there is a ray of hope for our youth if they will follow some of these pillars of received wisdom.
1. Seek self development through education by pursuing aggressively quality education from universities locally or internationally, through distance learning.
2. Pursue professional careers which can equip you with skills, status and ability to be self-employed. Design, Architecture, Accountancy, pharmacy, Laboratory Technology, Agriculture, Engineering, Horticulture, among others, are fulfilling and lucrative.
3. Equip yourself with knowledge of being an entrepreneur, by setting up as a sole trader or a private company, but never ever a partnership type of business which is fraught with nettlesome problems.
4. Study market trends and discover a market gap which you can exploit and fill or service.
5. Join voluntary charitable organizations such as the Rotary Club, Lions Club, among others to increase your circle of contacts or network. Work for the Lord in your church or temple or synagogue or mosque.
6. Serve your local community by organizing the youth to do voluntary work such as building schools, clean-up campaigns, giving free tuition to pupils in schools which are short of teachers, digging wells, preaching at the prisons, singing in the church choir etc. Pursue your hobbies with zeal; sports, photography, gardening, writing, singing, being an MC.
7. Join professional Bodies to give you clout, and become multi-skilled by having at least two qualifications or degrees.
8. Establish yourself online by having a personal website or blog to market and sell yourself, but beware of internet crooks and fraudsters. Be discerning.
9. Attend workshops, seminars, conferences to share ideas and learn from experts.
10. Become multi-skilled so that you can support yourself and be self-sufficient and free from your parents’ apron-strings.
11. Do everything in moderation, but avoid tobacco, alcohol, hard drugs, and being too much indulged with women.
12. Be practical. Take interest in farming, rearing animals and practising local crafts in your locale or locality, such as kente weaving, basket weaving, pottery, among others.
13. Listen to motivational speakers and good preachers. Read widely and avidly to acquire knowledge and wisdom which you must put into practice.
14. Let not money be your principal target in life but rather service to your community and nation, then money can follow. Learn to be patient and courteous to people but be firm, fair, and friendly to all.
15. J.F Kennedy once said, ‘Look not what your nation can do for you but what you can do for your nation.” The youth of Ghana have nothing to lose but their shackles of poverty.
16. Above all, be humble, courteous and if you like, God-fearing and prayerful.
In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe offers the advice that a child who knows how to wash his hands properly will be invited to sup and dine with elders. Therefore, our youth in Ghana today have to respect elders and not go along insulting politicians and their elders. They should know how to carry themselves with restrain, decorum and gravitas.
I leave the youth of Ghana for now with the words of my favourite poet, the American Henry Longfellow:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flights
But they, while their companions slept
Were toiling upwards all the night
By Alfred Lord Tennyson
The old order changeth
Yielding place to new
And God fulfills himself in many ways
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world,
Comfort thyself; what comfort is in me
I have lived my life and that which I have done
May he within himself make pure
But thou if thou should’st never see my face again
Pray for my soul
More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of
Source: Goodreads Inc.
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