There are many names given to this generation of young people. Some call us millennial, others generation Y. This generally refers to the group of people born in the 1980s, or end of 1970s up until end of 1990s. This is the generation whose age ranges from 36ish to 15. This also happens to be the age range given to what the African Youth Charter defines as youth, notably 15 to 35.
I personally prefer the label generation Y than millennial. I think generation y describes us better because it really points to a question that our generation seems to be asking: Why? There are many reasons for that. In schools, we have been taught to question everything, question the status quo, never accept what is happening and question even questions.
The more I think about it, the more I realize how the status of the current world has played into this thinking. In the past 35 years, more than 20 African countries have had the same heads of state for at least 10 years. Many of them have lost touch with the very youthful ideals that brought them to power decades ago. The past 30 years of the continent have been a mix of economic growth with certain disasters that have hit some countries hard. There has been a relative stability in many of the countries and this has created for a larger number of young people to access schools. It is not that poverty does not exist or affect us, it is that it has been somewhat stable. Although things may not have gotten better for everyone, they have not gotten worse, except in certain parts.
In my view this “stability”, for lack of better terms, has created a space where young people feel as though they are in a situation where they are stuck. Not much is built around them or for them. They have to fit in an adult world from childhood. It feels as though the system is built without young people in mind, while at the same time in depends on young people to keep going. When we look at the numbers, young people, aged 15 -24 are 200 million in a continent of 1.5 billion people.
So we question everything, accept nothing. Questioning status quo is important, so is working for the status quo to change. However something we have not learned much, and what I think will be the toughest lesson we will have to learn is coming up with solutions. This is seems to be generation Y’s Achilles heel.
We cannot possibly question everything but offer no answers? Offer no alternatives? Offer no solutions? If we do not offer or if we do not become the solutions or alternatives we seek, we simply become the casualties of change, change that may or may not have our best interest in mind.
I believe that sometimes the questions are more important than the answers. Questions indicate a state of mind, a train of thought or a trend. But I find that we are in a world where we need more than just questions or answers. As much as want to change things so they can accommodate us, as much as we are the future, we have to learn from those before us and include everyone, and not just some, in the movement. We need an inter-generation dialogue, we need a resolution.