This piece was written by Abdul Aziz Mitikishe Francis Turay, the Country Representative for the PLO Lumumba Foundation – Sierra Leone Chapter fighting corruption and encouraging pan-Africanism.
Our continent has been commonly associated with these ill practices – corruption, embezzlement, mismanagement, thievery, tribalism, regionalism and conducts that have placed us in a stagnated pit of developmental dispensation. These are endemic diseases that have been killing us as a nation. They run directly counter to the pledge of love and loyalty to our country that we have been making.
The theme for last year’s International Youth Day was “Safe Spaces for Youth,” Safe spaces where youth can come together, engage in activities relevant to their diverse needs, especially those outside their local communities and interests, participate in decision-making processes and express themselves freely. We as young people are charged with the responsibility of bringing the theme into active practice. To create safe spaces for young people, it takes relentless efforts. In the spirit of envisaging a productive goal like this, the foundational principles and conduct of young people should be radical against corruption which has the potential of killing such dreams in our country and our continent.
I honestly believe that the Sierra Lone National Pledge should be emulated by other countries in West Africa. It contributes to creating safe spaces for young people. In creating safe spaces for young people, we as young men and women should pledge our love and loyalty to our country and not to any individual or institution that seeks to take the wealth of our country. From the words of the first line of the National Pledge, I read “I pledge my love and loyalty to my country, Sierra Leone and vow to serve her faithfully at all times.” We as young people need to ask ourselves these questions; Have I pledged my love and loyalty to this country? Have I been serving her faithfully at all times? Have I been defending her good name? Many people out there may answer, no. The youth of this country form the largest factor of this country’s population, and we as young people are yet to give honour to what we have pledged.
If we really mean the words we have been reciting since the pre-school up until now, then I think the safe spaces for youth will absolutely be created and generations after us will lend credence to our zealous contributions in making such happen. In creating safe spaces for youth, we need to stand firm and put up a well-armed army that will fight against the things that have been pulling us back since we gained independence from our colonial masters. The blueprints of the vices widely practiced on our continent begin in adolescence. We are all youth first. If we as young people have already pledged and vowed to protect our country and honour its good name at all times, then the bond should not be broken after leaving youth as time proceeds.
If our country is a loved one, would we forsake her so? Would we stand aside and look while she is being violated or robbed by someone? Would we not take action and report to the authorities? Would we support someone that has the intention of killing her, without fighting for her or protecting her? Would we share the love we have for her to someone who’s not worth sharing it with? Would we stand aside and watch her reputation be destroyed without upholding the vow we made to protect her and honor her good name?
These are the questions we as young people should be asking ourselves in order to create the safe spaces we are envisaging.
I believe if we as youths, don’t take responsibility and ownership for our problems and challenges, we run the risk of allowing other nations, organisations, and institutions to do so on their terms and in their interests. My question to fellow young people is, are we creating a future in which generations after us can be proud to live?