The saying of “imiti ikula empanga” no longer carry or signify its rightful meaning. It now appears to be “imiti ikula empanga bo chelako amalasha abakalamba”. The future of the young ones and the youth begs on streets as it’s daily being trampled upon by those who are supposed to protect it. The future of imiti ikula is being ‘used’ by those who wish accelerate their political or business mileage.
As Chishimba Kasanga and Sitenta Davies put it below:
“Young people are capable, when aroused, of bringing down the towers of oppression and raising the banners of freedom.”-Nelson Mandela
“Imiti Ikula empanga”-Bemba proverb
On March 12th, Zambia commemorated this year’s youth day under the theme “Youth champion of dialogue, peace, unity and economic emancipation”. It is a day designed to celebrate Zambian youths and reflect on their crucial role in the self-sufficiency of the nation.
As per tradition, youths from all over the country where expected to engage in various celebratory activities to their day, these activities range from marching, sports tournaments, charitable works and beer drinking.
Youth day is an important commemoration in Zambia, as it reminds the youth that they are a valuable and important resource towards the development of the country.
But after youth day what next? What next after the promissory yet empty long speeches, that sing the importance of youths empowerment towards a better tomorrow,-Imiti ikula empanga?
50 golden years of reciting speeches and holding of march-past has not Zambian youth closer to the dream of our forefathers. Many young Zambians remain victims to the plagues of poverty.
While everyone is in the jovial mode of “Youth day”, it is rather important that we take this time to reflect on how far we have come and how much longer we have to go as a country to secure a better future. Highlighting the plights would bring our sensory memories of the history appended to this day.
The number one challenge being faced by many youths is the lack of employment. Attaining university education does not guarantee one of finding employment; the job market is a rough field for us.
Employers want suitable candidates for employment with a minimum of at least five years working experience. However, where will these graduates acquire that experience when domestic firms do not provide mere internships? How in the world, do they expect a university graduate to get five years working experience when they do not even offer unpaid internship for college/university students while in school? The harsh realities of just finding internship are synonymous to poverty.
While others may argue to say that, the youths should not focus on looking for white-collar job but strive to create employment opportunities for themselves and others. The question remains, where are they supposed to get the capital to start the business? How will they be innovative when in the first place the academic fraternity does not emphasis on developing entrepreneurship abilities?
It is one thing-telling people to think outside the box and become entrepreneurs, but providing them with the investment capital to start-up their business, now that is a different ball game all together. Sadly, none of these is chiefly stressed in the education syllabus.
For others, youth day is a day like any other day nothing special about it. They still have no money to go to school, they still sleep on an empty stomach, they still have unpaid bills. They still swim in the vicious cycle effect of poor leadership.
Therefore, watching someone behind the television screens, telling them that they are leaders for tomorrow is mockery of the highest degree. Because they are deprived of the opportunities to prove themselves and reality tells them otherwise.
“Youth day” should not be more than a cliché of marching and reading long monotonous speeches, but a day to implement practical schemes that will once empower the youth to reach their full potential in driving the country in the direction of economic development. Youths are a backbone of every nation state’s health and wealth.
Thus far, we have moved a centimetre forward and a kilometre backwards in terms of effecting youth empowerment and social justice on issues of universal education. In fact, Zambia being ranked as one of the countries with a free falling economy is an indication of how much the leadership has failed the nation. The current situation at the higher institution of education (UNZA&CBU) reveals the unchecked priorities of the state. Nevertheless, if we continue to leave out the allied youths into the equation of sustainable development, then economic stagnation is our best allay for centuries to come.
Youth day what next? It is time to implement the highlighted in those youth day speeches. It is time for the government to provide a fertile breeding ground for the youth to unleash their potential. Otherwise, “youth day” will remain a day in March for a youth march-past. From the North to the south and from the East to the West ‘imiti ikula” are striving after the wind