African Youth Need More Jobs, Not More Conflict

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Dear Mama Africa,


How are you today? How are you feeling about the 54 countries that call you mama?

You will be glad to know that Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Kenya on Wednesday 9th December. I have mixed feelings about that guy. When he took over in 2018, he seemed like a potentially transformative leader. He won me over in July 2019 when he led his country-mates in planting more than 350 million trees in twelve hours. It was a new world record. As you know mama Africa, I am an avid conservationist myself, so any African leader who breaks positive environmental records is a friend of mine.

But on Monday November 16 a few weeks ago, this friend of mine greatly disappointed me when Ethiopia’s air force hit military targets in Mekele, the capital of the country's Tigray region. When he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019, Abiy Ahmed gave a powerful Nobel lecture entitled, ‘Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa.’

Within two minutes of his speech, he rightfully noted that, “I also accept this award on behalf of Africans and citizens of the world for whom the dream of peace has often turned into a nightmare of war.”

Unfortunately, the nightmare of war has visited Ethiopia itself just a year after Abiy Ahmed said these words. I am not convinced that diplomatic channels were comprehensively exhausted before the shelling started. Mama Africa, I will write to you a letter about Ethiopia's predicament in a few days’ time.

Today, I want to talk to you about the Democratic Republic of Congo, another African country that was born into violent conflict since the day it was born on 30 June 1960. Yesterday, I was researching about the aforementioned internal conflict in Ethiopia when I stumbled on an article in the Daily Nation, Kenya’s most widely circulated newspaper. The article’s headline was ‘Fight between Tshisekedi, Kabila exposes DRC to chaos.’ Tshisekedi is the current President of DRC while Kabila is the immediate former President.

As the writer of the above article notes, ‘several observers reckon that the crisis between Tshisekedi and Kabila could affect all institutions and finally create great chaos in the country.’

I just don’t like the prospect of more chaos visiting DRC. This country has been through so much since the days of Patrice Lumumba, its charismatic founding father. Mama Africa, that was one great leader.

In August 1960 during a speech at the All-African Conference in Leopoldville August, 1960, Patrice Lumumba uttered words that continue to ring true to this day, “political independence has no meaning if it is not accompanied by rapid economic and social development”. How true. Because Africa’s rapid economic and social development continue to teeter in the murky waters of bad governance, we remain shackled even in our freedom. How sad. How tragic.

But we can arise from this. We can do so through the young generation of Africans who are weary of business as usual and are demanding business unusual.

Mama Africa, 420 million people on this continent are aged 15 to 35, making Africa the most youthful continent in the world. Unfortunately, one third of them are unemployed. That, is the problem that President Tshisekeddi, former President Kabila and all the other 52 African Heads of State should focus on. Young Africans need more jobs, not more conflict.

Yours Sincerely,

DJ Bwakali

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P/S:  According to Michigan State University and other sources, ‘the Democratic Republic of Congo is widely considered to be the richest country in the world regarding natural resources; its untapped deposits of raw minerals are estimated to be worth in excess of U.S. $24 trillion.’

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