Youth leadership in Uganda and the most of Africa has always been characterized by patronage, monetization & intrigue. As much as young people yearn to meaningfully participate, the system is designed to rather use us. Am glad we just concluded youth elections, yes they give us positions & titles… but what’s it for without actual power and decision making power? The National Youth Council is a sleeping giant, one that may not soon wake up from its deep slumber unless drastic measure are taken.
Majority of young people actually don’t know what the National Youth Council represents. Our would be elected leaders are swallowed up by the system that aims at constantly keeping elected National officials in fights with each other. Vocal leaders absented in trips and pocked in allowances. Familiarity with top leadership isn’t aimed at silencing their voices & not mentorship. Pictures taken in support of you is for report writing rather than impact. It’s a sad story for most young people. Unfortunately, this truth is not far from the reality for other youth structure such as political youth leagues of both ruling & non ruling sides. That’s why majority of the young people are left frustrated and easily tempted into violence.
This must stop, we must make deliberate attempts to bring the young person to the decision making table. Not in form of charity but as partners. If we want a functional council, we need to modify these electoral college elections, get them out of the hands of selfish power mongers. At the same time, elected leaders actually don’t just need proper orientation but all year round funding to facilitate community engagements, collective decision making processes, be part of passing key policies and initiating of youth programs in government. Youth are more than just political mobilizers, we too can be professional workers and the Council can be an actual voice for the country.
What more do you think can be done? Share your comments guys, 2021 should be a year of making a difference… and it starts with you and me talking.