In the aftermath of the #EndSARS riots and growing complaints across country of youth unemployment as well as general lack of opportunities in our economy, a piece I wrote primarily, for a body of boys who serve during liturgy in church, the Altar Knights of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, G.R.A. Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria somewhat appears apt to me for publication here as my offer to the larger young one in this challenging time. Excerpt:
Kindly permit these sincere submissions of mine lest I live subsequently, in bitter blame of myself for failing to rise up to the core responsibility of a father – passing over to children what one understands to be wisdom.
I deem myself priviledged to be asked to make this contribution; more so, as a father with good admiration for the youth.
Life is full of directions and distractions, and its ending phase is almost always the result of paths one took earlier in life.
You would be pardoned as a young person if you heard shouts and chants on the streets and you head there. Should you be drawn in such magnetic manner that you get so consumed in the yells and kicks and you become one of the mongers, you can be excused as suffering from youthful exuberance.
Be it the #EndSARS; the #BlackLivesMatter; #ArabSpring; #EnougisEnough; #BringBakOurGirls; #OccupyNigeria; #OccupyWallStreet or any other peaceful or violent protest in recent or remote times, one factor commonplace therein is frenzied youth participation. Young ones drove the efforts. They mainly participated in them. They vented and gave the movements monumentum.
But often the proceeds of the high risks did not go the way of those young ones who made the streets agog or caused the flux and frenzy that forced the changes.
As with open-street expressions, it is possible for a young man to have enough time to be participant in all political rallies around his community, local council and environ. He may be handy ‘operations man’ in partisan activities all many and all the many time-consuming campaigns that require time and energy for tasks.
Sometimes, such participants may rise in social reckoning and in the cadre of his chosen political party or campign organisation. They may acquire some fame on their way. But such opportunities are for merely a handful who would soon after, meet a ceiling where he or she may only go beyond if he or she is very lucky and has higher qualifications.
Similarly, fame may thrust its fortune early on the young one. It could come through his or her art, skills or even through lucky dips such as gambling, or happening upon a viral social media activity. It could also be just short-lunch into celebrity status.
Most times, such sudden launch into fame and fortune last only a while like blossoming flower under the sun. Before the sun goes down, the enticing petals would fade in vibrance and droop.
Life, when lived by following fancy without strive for quality and real content heads that way – a short term of lustre. For the one, who equips himself from early times and avoids quick fixed opportunities even when they appeared irresistible, the future is more charitable . The maxim, “make hay while the sun shines”, offers deep wisdom about youth the prime of human life .
The youthful period of human life is most apt for investment in the future.
At youth , one plants the seeds of one’s success or failure – through the choices one made or failed to make. Those options are best taken with clear sense of the possibilities – benefits and losses – inherent in them. Like the seed that the farmer intends to groom into good crops that would yield fruit, such choices are made with good goals and nurtured well until they mature.
The routes taken in one’s youth should be targetted at making the best of one’s older age not to just soothe the passion of the moment, like joining thugs to yell for political causes that one is half-hearted about or drifting away with a frenzied protest or arson. All these may be excused cheaply as succumbing to the lure of the moment but they do not suffice as wise choices that a smart youth should make.
Indeed, such options may offer trivial rewards for the moment and boost ego to the level of making one brag among the fellow youth and purchase some items in vogue. In the long run, however, they may not last. Often at maturity of time, the man or woman who invested good time in training and acquiring experience in such concrete things as education, character refinement, learning good skills, enduring and assimilating the hard knocks of life under the tutelage of a mentor and master would end up more successful.
Apart from devoting time for learning, grooming and understudying a sage, a youth who plans for better times in older age should also devote time to fine-tune and improve in his or her habits. Great men and women have great qualities and attitudes. Learning and imbibing those attributes help in distinguishing the one who would succeed tomorrow and the one who may not.
Equally, developing a strong spirituality ultimately makes the difference between one person and another at the maturity of age. But spirituality must be distinguished from mere expression of faithful commitment or religiosity. The man or woman who would excell tomorrow must begin today to develop a close personal attachment and passionate relationship with God. Our Lord Jesus Christ in The Holy Bible said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30 KJV). That is the key.
In all that one does, one must note that ideas, hard work and desire to keep doing your utmost without relenting are the main templates for success.
Despite all, never go about life without love. Love conquers all, says Apostle Paul.
One may sum that learning, working hard, improving one’s character, developing deep spirituality – connection to God, loving all people passionately, irrespective of their difference with us, and having a burning zeal for your mission without quitting at the face of difficulties are the equipment for better life now, but most importantly, after youth.
These factors, among others, may serve as basic, ideological guides to success. However, it is important to note that understanding the unique opportunities of every generation, society and environment of operation as well as knowing how to apply the ‘guides’ is the most effective way of using the tips.
We live in an era of information advantage so mastering how to explore the high level of smart intelligence which the ICT (information and communication technology) provides will ultimately give the young ones of today a niche. Learning how to maximise the ICT outreach of one’s skills and businesses will not be a bad venture. In the aftermath of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, smart operation would require deep and unrelenting adaptation to new ICT developments; more home-based operations and learning how to establish start-up (small) businesses. This current period of COVID-19 lockdown and the approaching post- COVID-19 will also require deepper understanding of how to be self-employed entrepreneur but the puzzle it would pose is that such business owners should do better by finding ways to network with others around the world.
Given the increasing need for social welfare and similar support for the youth and MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) from governments and funding agencies, the ones that would most likely benefit from the development are those that are captured in the membership of co-operative societies and known neighbourhood organisations because these are the standard channels through which such funds go. Such associations can be formed in faith-based communities such as churches and mosques or a duely registered collective in streets, towns, communes, clubs, et cetera. But only a youth who has the passion for following news and current affairs as well as studying government policies would explore the opportunities in the initiative. It is not out of place to cite the Holy Bible’s lines in Hosea 4:6:
My people perish for lack of knowledge.
Same way, anyone who lives with the mindset that his or her society is hostile and constituted authorities cannot help him or her may not reap the benefits of such chances, because somehow what one wishes oneself comes to be.
Among opportunities offered by current era are cheaper publicity of products and messages. There are equally times for lesser bureaucracy and faster global exposure. The skies have never been so open in the entire history of mankind. In fact, that was the major lesson from the #EndSARS protests. In this era of Apps, codes, IDs et cetera, on right click on a digital device can open vaults and launch one ahead beyond one’s imagination. But the person must be equipped with the righ content and frame of mind. Hence a young one, who dares and believes can excel and reign globally from his or her room in any corner of Anambra State, Nigeria or the hinterlands of Africa. The secret of life is strong belief in the superiority of mind over matter. With faith you can move mountain.
The Holy Bible in the book of Matthew 7: 7-8 (KJV) states:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye
shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh
findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Finally, an important note on the mode of education required for success. The education meant here is effective and functional learning which does not really refer to the quantity of certificates you acquire from schools. If it is so, the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Apple’s late Steve Jobs, Virgin’s Richard Branson among others may not rank among successful men. But certificates are not out of it totally. What is the crust here is good learning and certified expertise that takes you to the destination you are sincerely heading to in life. Anyone who has no brain and patience for scholarship has no business struggling through wads of certificates to prove that he or she is educated. Garlands of college and university qualifications help nobody except those who have faculty for scholarship and academic research. If you are not cut out for it, you have no need for it because a doctor of philosophy or so, is not a better guarantee for success than an expertise in any skill or trade. And getting high education must not be aimed at getting job promotions. Get relevant education for your natural purpose. Else you are wasting time. I subscribe to the school of thought that education without concrete purpose is a wasteful venture. You study with a clear mission – to pursue a carreer, vocation or vital knowledge that a person has an enthusiasm or predilection to.
Above all, fear not. Believe in yourself. Believe you are born for a great purpose. Believe you will conquer, no matter the odds of the moment. Victory is yours.