Uganda is home to more than 7.3 million young people aged between 15 and 24 years, making her the second country with the highest population of youth in the world after Niger. With more than 78 percent of the total population being below 30 years, the youth have a pivotal role to play in driving Uganda in terms of good governance and economic transformation. Unfortunately, the majority of young people are not aware of their role in nation building, and not aware of the ways in which they may take part in this noble task according to their capacities.
It is not very difficult to mobilize the youth for nation-building tasks if one has the requisite honesty, intelligence, and leadership. Once young people are genuinely involved, their interest in constructive work would be aroused. They would be prepared to work sincerely for the welfare of the country. To achieve this, it is important that the enlightened youth take centre stage in mobilizing their fellows.
Gone are the days when the adage “we’re the leaders of tomorrow” held meaning. In the mid-fourth industrial revolution, the youth have a crucial role to play in shaping the futures of their countries. Now that the outgoing generation of Ugandan leadership played its part of laying a foundation for the accelerated progress of our country, as the youth, we need to brace ourselves to steer Uganda to its next unprecedented phase of economic growth and democracy. It is a call to action for all the young people!
Bearing in mind that our future as individuals and as a country is directly molded by what we do in our youthful times, we ought to engage in constructive activities; be it advocacy, volunteering or social entrepreneurship, in a bid to ensure that we formulate solutions to the challenges that bite our communities.
We need to realize that the digital advancements have presented to us immense opportunities to effect change in our society. They were nonexistent in the youthful times of our old parents, yet they still were agents of change in the communities they lived in.
Youth, therefore, have no excuse for not driving change since modern technologies have enabled sharing of thoughts, ideas, and information with the world over in a split second. One notable example is the first ever Twitter and Facebook-induced political revolution in Tunisia in December 2010 where young people mobilized themselves in droves, demonstrated against a corrupt and despotic regime which finally led to the ousting of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali who had ruled for 23 years. The power of technology and young people deciding what was desired for a better Tunisia was witnessed. This is a better cause than treading rumors and sex tapes on social media.
Much as we have studied and attained qualifications, we don’t turn into separate entities from the illiterate and poor communities we hail from. It’s our eternal duty as people who have seen the light to pass it onto others. A community’s development and success is dependent on all, not one. It’s illogical being filthy rich with very poor neighbors.
Our existence should be dedicated to leading exemplary and value-based living in the communities we live in. Yes, we ought to (and do) volunteer, build, create, educate ourselves and help. We should use our almost inexhaustible supply of energy, passion, ideas, and creativity. We need that energy to keep our communities viable and our world moving forward.
To be a generation that solves the challenges that our communities face daily, we shall require a blend of ambition, talents and personal discipline. This calls us to acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of the current status quo; we must then appreciate the potential within us and eventually, assertively resolve to offer a new coat of paint to our country. For the ambition and talent we have on plenitude, however, the last quality which the most outstanding and therefore needs a personal retouch by every young person, is our personal discipline.
Conclusively, we need to denounce the vices that have been normalized by our leaders, most notably, lack of integrity, corruption, nepotism, favoritism, and attachment of a sense of belonging to state apparatus. This should encourage us to accept the magnitude of the charge placed on our shoulders as leaders of this day. Uganda does not just owe us a living. We owe Uganda something. We owe it our time and energy and our talents so that no one will be at war or in poverty or sick or lonely again.