My message on the 2022 International Youth Day

For the first time, I have nothing really to say about International Youth Day not because I have no words but because I am tired of how performative organizations and donor agencies have worked with young people. How young people sometimes are seen as just a tick box in the development process or in the process of creating the so-called global change.

I am tired because the theme says intergenerational solidarity: creating a world for all ages and this means leveraging the potentials of all generations but I would still say that the young people's potential is not still being harnessed and when you ask adults, they will give 1000 + reasons why young people should not be given the platform to lead or why they need to fight to get a seat at the table or why they need to prove or meet some certain criteria to be in the table.
I am also tired because even the ministry meant for young people “the so-called ministry of youth” is led by adults who do not know what it means to be a young person in this generation and the challenges we face. And even the ministers of youth in some (maybe many) countries are not young people. For example, the Nigerian current minister of youth and sports is 56 years old and I am worried why a 26 or 29-year-old cannot take that position. According to the Nigerian new youth policy, a young person is between the age of 15 - 29 years. Today, we have so many adults holding young people’s positions claiming to be young. I am tired of seeing that happen.
I am also critical of myself of how sometimes I make myself a product of ticking the boxes as a young person and I hope I can do better. I am also critical that someday I would not be in the youth or young people category anymore and would be able to still hold the ideals of believing in young people. I am aware that those in power today were once young people and held this ideology. I hope I would not change.
I am also tired of adults thinking young people are competing with them and all they need is recognition for spaces, not all spaces but some spaces, and mentoring to grow. I look forward to seeing more adults supporting young people to lead (That is what intergenerational leadership means). It is adults understanding their role as one and creating the opportunity and resources for young people to grow.
So, I am so tired today and I am as well angry because I believe young people hold the key to transforming education, science, technology, health, and economics and all they need is an ecosystem that allows them to live and thrive.
I am tired and I hope someday things can be better for young people.
Hammed Kayode Alabi (c) 2022

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