OP-EDs

YOUTHS MUST STAND UP TO RESCUE LESOTHO

By Nkopane Mathibeli

Read the original article here.

“Each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it in relative opacity” – Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth)

Just like the subjects of Fanon’s seminal book, the psychologically tortured, economically excluded and physically abused melanin dripping African, Basotho youth are literally the wretched of Lesotho.

There is a saying that the youth live on hope and obviously, this is hope for the future. This is the case throughout the world and Basotho youth are not excluded.

But given the ever evolving politically spawned gloom and doom of the Mountain Kingdom, I sometimes wonder what the youth of Lesotho hope for only to be frustrated by the fiery passion with which they talk about their political leaders, more than 90 percent of which are in the twilight of their lives.

Can this be because of the age old belief that old age begets wisdom? If so, how many more decades, broken promises and burst bubbles are they willing to recover from before acknowledging that old age does not automatically translate into wisdom particularly in issues of national governance and development?

For how long are the youth of Lesotho willing to remain mere statistics in national unemployment figures, owners of small businesses that tanked before their third year of operation, criminals committing violent crimes, alcoholics and drug abusers, inmates in prison cells throughout the country, illegal miners killing each other at disused mines in South Africa and undocumented aliens in South Africa unceremoniously deported back to the hellhole they attempted to escape from?

I use the word “willing” in asking this question because it is indeed by choice that the youth have become the wretched of Lesotho, no one has forced them into this unbearably dehumanising pit or should I use Donald Trump’s adjective for African countries?

In actual fact, there is absolutely no reason for their country to raise such a stink in their presence. Is it because they are not aware of who they are and what their capability is?

Regrettably, the youth of Lesotho have singlehandedly given new meaning to the adage, “where there is will there is a way” in a way difficult to be proud of.

This is because courtesy of their political detachment, which is senseless given the desperation with which their country needs their political participation to escape the mutilation it suffers at the hands of it’s consecutive (mis)leaders, the youth, willing to be victims of the very same mutilation, ignore the calls to partake in politics and find their way into the torture chambers, by deciding to remain apolitical.

This has got to stop and nobody else must stop it but the youth themselves. It may be true that due to their numerical superiority, the youth are a group worst affected by unemployment and every other ill but does that invalidate their intellect?

Absolutely not. A lot of things may have in the past demoralised them but below follows a couple of dots they must connect after which purpose may return to their life as a unit. They may rediscover their strength and therefore wake up from their slumber, make requisite moves and determine their own destiny.

For a start, out of the total population of Lesotho (2,007,201), youth of voting age exceed 556,355. I say exceed because according to the 2016 census, this specific figure is for those aged between 20 and 34 excluding those aged 18 and 19.

These ones are included in a group whose age ranges between 15 and 19 totalling 209,886. Ignoring this last figure will however not compromise anything because as it were, the total number of youth aged between 20 and 34 is enough to drive my point across.

What is the point? It is that the total number of young people eligible to vote in Lesotho far surpasses the votes by which any political party has ever won elections in Lesotho. This is big but only if the youth of Lesotho are politically conscious enough to appreciate its implication and embark on the journey to actualise the possibility.

But what exactly is the possibility? It is to legitimately and through political means (forming a political party/winning elections), take over this country and thereafter proceed to make the founder of this nation the proudest ancestor in the afterlife.

Are the young people of Lesotho politically conscious and fed up enough to come out of their shells under which they constantly play the role of critics; are they capable of coming out, holding the bull by its horns and doing whatever has to be done to fix this country for posterity?

They currently may not be but in order to prepare themselves, they must consciously desist from being the first two kind of minds Eleanor Roosevelt alludes to in her famous quote i.e. simple minds that discuss people and average minds that discuss events.

This is because if they take on these two characteristics, they may never discover their mission. On the contrary, they must strive to be great minds that discuss ideas because only then will they discover their mission and fulfil it. NW

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