There are so many questions swirling in young people’s minds. There are so many things they seek to understand. Yet, there are certain things already set-in stone; things that have been so ingrained, that they have become tradition. In many places, it is tradition to see a policeman extort money from a motorist, and look the other way. It has become tradition to read manifestos that never get executed. It is becoming culture compliant to loot the national treasury and go scot-free. We have since lost the culture of hard work, and the tradition of integrity. When you see these as young people, how then can you trust the system? How then can young people like you trust their leaders and institutions?
A system that can be trusted is a system that is fair to all irrespective of race, colour, religion, gender, and class. Is there such a system? Unfortunately, young people have become familiar with all that’s corrupt and wrong with the world today. You have seen leaders in power who refuse to handover to a successor. You have seen institutions make a success of denying individuals their fundamental human rights. And, it seems you have seen enough.
The world is witnessing riots, protests, civil disobedience and anarchy. At the fore of these riots are young people who have had enough. They are responding in the best way they know how. They refuse to sit and cower before leaders and institutions who have failed to protect, serve, and promote them. They are taking laws in their hands – and that’s what we call unrest.
Why are young people seemingly disruptive and unhappy? Is it a reflection of their age and maturity? Is it a response to the crisis of education, health, and economics? Or is it a case of being used to cause a chaos? Many have proffered their version of an answer. Some say that young people over time have always been at the front of rebellion towards their leaders and institutions. Is there not a reason to rebel? Others have said that young people have never been given a chance to enter into leadership. Is this not reason enough to rebel? However, the real answers are as straightforward as it should be. Young people have lost trust in their leaders and institutions. It is as simple as that.
While the world wonders whether or not this trend of civil disobedience will ever dissipate, young people are finding more and more reasons to meet their leaders and institutions with cynicism and skepticism. This spells doom and gloom for the future of the world.
In light of the above, may I ask some questions: How can we reverse this dangerous situation? What can we do to rebuild the trust between leaders and institutions? How can young people learn to trust again? How can our youth unlearn the bitterness they have been taught? How can you react to policies without sneering? How can you be a more responsible citizen?
At this conference, there are questions that deserve answers. There are problems searching for situations. There are nations at the verge of collapse. What can you do? What can you say? What will you change?