I read an interesting story last week about the increasingly bleak prospects for young Europeans when it comes to job opportunities and the unrest that has resulted because of this, with protests breaking out in cities such as Madrid, Athens, London and Paris. The general consensus seems to be that young people in these European countries increasingly feel that the political and economic systems of their countries have failed them and that some drastic changes need to be made if they are going to have better prospects in future.
Coupled with the North African and Arab Uprisings which were mainly driven by young people who were angered by the lack of opportunities and job prospects within their societies, it is quite clear that there is an increased mobilisation by a young generation the world over which is tired of being on the sidelines while its future is being decided by an older generation which has had its day in power. We may be in the middle of a revolution that will take the world on a different trajectory just like the 1960s and the famed Sexual Revolution did for western society.
The question that comes to mind in thinking through all this is: where are we headed? What kind of global society will this emerging young generation build and will it be able to work much closer with greater co-operation between the different nations or will we see the triumph of parochialism and narrow national interests? Can this young emerging generation take humanity further than we have gone in the previous 20 centuries or will we find ourselves still circling over the same problems in our century? Will there be new economics ideologies and forms of political and societal organisation that emerge or will we be stuck in the same paradigms that have predominated over the past couple of centuries?
Is the world going to be better or are we still going to squabble over the same petty issues? Will we discover new ways to resolve conflicts and to encourage co=operation or are we going to still be plagued by wars and the mass loss of human lives? These are just some of the questions that crossed my mind as I was reading this story. Whatever the case may be these are fascinating times to be living because one gets the sense that the changes that are currently occurring and the tectonic shifts that we are witnessing in global politics and economic alignment are going to be key to defining the kind of world we are going to live in, in the 21st century. Of course I wouldn’t be myself if I also didn’t ask myself the question: what of Africa? What are we as young Africans bringing to the table? What will our contribution be in these historic times? What will history say about us and the contribution we made when the future of the world was clearly on the line? Never has an African generation been presented with as much opportunity as we have to help shape the future direction of the world, even though we are not clearly certain as to what that future will look like? Where is the world headed? I don’t know but I am determined to play my part in shaping that world. I hope that young people all over the continent are thinking along the same lines and living with the same determination. In the words of Charles Dickens (paraphrased of course),” tis the best of times.”