African pastures are as much green – continental youth leader


Jeremiah Ndjoze

Windhoek-An African youth activist is calling on young people in Namibia to desist from going abroad in search of so-called greener pastures.

“Greener pastures are in Africa, because most of the resources are found in Africa. Getting the best out of these resources is only a matter of capacities,” stresses the deputy general secretary of the Pan African Youth Union (PYU), Ahmed Bening.

The Ghanaian-born Bening, elected to the PYU hot seat last December, was this week in Namibia on a PYU mission to sensitise the continent’s youth on the activities of the organisation, and to solicit their views on how the union can lobby governments to meet young people’s demands.

Challenges facing young people in Africa today can only be addressed effectively on the basis of solidarity rather than the militant approach – which is fast becoming the norm, he says.

Speaking to youth leaders at the National Youth Council of Namibia (NYC) on Monday, Bening maintained that his delegation opted to come to Namibia because of the proven vocal prowess of the country’s young people, on debates surrounding development, in comparison to youths in other parts of the continent. Also the country has some of the most experienced youth leaders in Africa, according to Bening.

“We are trying to get a feeling of what young people’s perceptions are regarding the current developmental status of the continent, and what they expect from the PYU in the next three years,” Bening says, reiterating that the union’s endeavour is to have an open engagement with young people to hear what they want to push onto the broad-based developmental space.

The union wants young people to ask themselves how they can find credible ways through which they can impact policy formulation and advise their governments. “For young people to impact their country’s developments, these days, it is required of them to bring to the fore a sense of ingenuity,” Bening says.

He confirms that there are African countries that have tried to implement some innovative mechanisms to mainstream their youth-orientated developmental endeavours. However, such moves have been foiled by the fiscal regimes in some of these countries, comprising, amongst other constraints, high interest rates.

The PYU, Bening says, has established that African youths have what it takes to put the continent’s resources to good use. What is now required is the creation of an enabling environment in which their ideas can flourish.

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However, he calls on young people to steer away from self-defeating notions such as political opportunism. “Young people should be seen as knowing what they want, and not political affiliation, in their quest to effect change.
“Many a time young people become vocal on the tickets of their political movements and this in turn only paves the way for their exploitation at the hands of the political powers that be,” Bening says.

On their part, some of the local youth leaders lament the inaccessibility of young people to valuable resources such as land as a huge limiting factor. They also point out the lack of capital and collateral as serious constraints.


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