Political participation is indispensable in a democracy. Rightly conceived, a democracy requires the eligible population to actively contribute towards the governance and development of their countries. Thus, in a democratic system of governance, power, as the ancient Greek politician, Pericles, said, “is in the hands not of a minority but of the whole people”. A democracy is the most inclusive system of governance; despite this, across numerous African democratic states, the youth remain politically under-represented—even while being described as the “agents of change” and the continent’s future. Even the few politically active youths face fundamental challenges. In most cases, their voices are either unheard or wrongly heard. As a result, the role of African youths in building their nations remains invisible. The crucial question to ask is why.
In politics, African youths face two major challenges. Firstly, some cultural values underpinning the youth-elder relationship within African societies conflict with the democratic system of governance. Consequently, these values stifle the youth’s attempts to actively and meaningfully participate in politics. Secondly, the youth lack both coordination and active non-partisan (those not professionally involved in politics) political participation. This leads to the dispersion of the youth’s energy and the proliferation of limited or distorted knowledge of politics among young people. The implication of both challenges is that a number of youths enter or refrain from politics because of wrong reasons, thereby weakening the power of young people to initiate any remarkable changes in their societies.
To sustainably achieve youth political participation, the youth must be pro-active in overcoming the cultural challenges that pervade African politics. They must “embrace the common good” as the foundation of their desire and determination to engage in politics. Moreover, young people must regroup themselves into independent youth-led groups in order to better understand their problems. Collectively, they must form and strengthen their ideas so as to challenge the political status quo while keeping their political representatives accountable.
Who are the Youth?
According to the United Nations, people aged between 15 and 24 years old are youths. These are people who are transitioning from their childhood dependence to adulthood and independence. The youth are those breaking away from being passive recipients of care, nurturing and education to those who play active roles in society. Ultimately, in this discussion, for the sake of simplicity and clarity, I will use the definition of youth as provided by the African Youth Charter: a person between the ages of 15 and 35.
Notes on Political Participation
The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, holds that human beings are, by nature, political animals. This suggests that human beings fundamentally live and flourish within society settings, and that we cannot, perhaps, live a fulfilled life in isolation. Accordingly, human beings form communities, and self-governing institutions, in which they feel secure. Communal life necessitates a rational obligation to uphold values such as solidarity, justice, cooperation and fairness for the society to survive; and societies would not develop if human beings did not have the capacity to recognize, evaluate, and change their living conditions.
Therefore, political participation means taking active role in improving one’s society. It is the ability to create and preserve a “cooperative enterprise of a community of individuals who have a common interest in living under law and in acting justly”, provided that everyone who acts justly, collectively and individually benefits from this cooperation. Political participation, therefore, is both unnecessary and illusory if it does not aim to promote and perfect the cooperative enterprise of society for the sake of the common good. And, yet, political participation is not an easy task. To participate in shaping and reshaping a political community requires vigilance and commitment at influencing decision-makers to take appropriate measures that uphold, preserve and restore justice, order and harmony.
With the view that human beings are naturally political animals, the concept of political participation seems easy to understand. It could be conceived as follows: if people are political by nature, then all their actions would be political actions and whatever they do would, therefore, mean that they are politically participating in the life of their communities. This is an attractive view. However, it is indefensible, as becomes clear by assessing whether every human activity a political activity.
It is largely accepted that activities that concern public human life are political activities. Yet, not all public human activities are examples of political participation. For instance, teaching in a primary school is a public activity. But, it cannot be understood to be as immediately political as protesting against corruption or campaigning and voting. There are public activities that are necessarily political and that aim at political outcomes and there are other public activities that are not political activities yet they aim at political outcomes. For instance, campaigning and voting are political activities and their aim, among many, consists in electing leaders or policies or laws that serve general interests. However, activities such as solidarity marathons, unity prayer day, and some forms of voluntarism seem to be nonpolitical activities yet they raise awareness on political issues: justice, unity, poverty and social inequalities.
Political participation is a malleable concept. It continuously develops. Thus, a search for its fixed definition is limiting. Since we live in a rapidly changing world, any fixed definition would fail to incorporate activities that emanate from a creative, innovative and unorthodox mind. However, simply put, political participation consists in “citizens’ activities affecting politics. It is the role that every citizen plays in the affairs of the state. According to Jan W. van Deth, political participation includes activities like:
Voting, demonstrating, contacting public officials, boycotting, attending party rallies, guerrilla gardening, posting blogs, volunteering, joining flash mob, signing petitions, buying fair-trade products, and even suicide protests.
These activities share some common features. They are all voluntary activities that can be done by any citizen; they target the government; and they aim at solving problems concerning the common good. If these criteria are some of the requirements for an activity to be considered political participation, then actions as simple as buying a cup of coffee, cleaning the street and boycotting the businesses of corrupt leaders can be political activities. But if political participation were so simple, it would be impossible to exclude anyone from participating in the politics of their community.
Ultimately, the most important determinant of political participation is a strong desire to act for the sake of promoting the common good. Ultimately, political participation is unthinkable or impossible if we are not aware of the problems of our societies.
Inter-generational Power Struggle in Zimbabwe: A Lesson for African Youths
In November 2017, Zimbabwe experienced a political crisis that led to the resignation of the then president, Robert Gabriel Mugabe. This particular case provides insight into the place of the youth in politics and highlights the obstacles the youth face in their attempt to play more political roles.
The history of the Liberation War (1966-1979) is well enshrined in post-colonial Zimbabwe. Those the current vice-president, General Constantine Chiwenga, described recently as “the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives” fought the war for the sake of freedom. In Zimbabwe, participation in the Liberation War entitles all veterans to respect and specific benefits, as well as to rights of comradeship. Under the leadership of President Mugabe, this comradeship, through the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF), ruled Zimbabwe for about four decades.
As Mugabe grew older, his political control over the country dwindled. Consequently, the party developed different factions. Mugabe, under the conspiracy of his wife, Grace, and some younger political groups—the Zanu-PF youth league and the Generation-40 (who were, ironically, as old as Mugabe’s rule)—dismissed his vice-president, Dr. Joyce Mujuru, and Mugabe’s latter vice-president, Emerson. D. Mnangagwa. The dismissal of Mnangagwa, in particular, ignited instability in the country and triggered the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF)’s intervention to restore order. In as much as there is a lot of complexity in this political crisis, focusing on the behaviors of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces’ generals (the representative of the liberation legacy, elders) and the Zanu-PF youth league (with no war legacy/history) is sufficient to understand the political challenges of the Zimbabwean youths.
On November 13 2017, on behalf of the Zimbabwean army, General Constantine Chiwenga announced a military intention to intervene in the degenerating political situation. The justification of this intervention was based on the claim that the enemies, the members of the G-40, the young people who “do not share the same liberation history of Zanu-PF, have hijacked the revolution legacy”. Chiwenga noted that the “history of revolution cannot be rewritten by those who have not been part of it”. The past war comradeship would, therefore, seem to be the only factor that meaningfully legitimizes any participation in Zimbabwean politics. However, the youth have no such background but are equally as Zimbabwean as their elders, and want to actively participate in shaping the future of their country. These differences of opinion, vision and legitimacy constitute the foundation of the crisis that led to Mugabe’s resignation.
The power struggle among the Zanu-PF members led to a very complex political situation in Zimbabwe. The then first lady, Grace Mugabe, protected by her husband, Robert Mugabe, with the cooperation of her G-40 allies and various Zanu-PF youth league members, accused Vice-President Mnangagwa of plotting to overthrow the legitimate president. Consequently, the army, in its bid to restore legacy, pledged allegiance to Mugabe and remained an ally to Mnangagwa (the army, Mugabe and Mnangagwa share the legacy of war).
However, between May and November 2017, Mugabe and Mnangagwa turned into serious political enemies. The army considered some of those surrounding Mugabe criminals and set its mission to reconciling what it called “minor political differences”. The youth stood their ground as anti-Mnangagwa and challenged the army. Under his office as a voice of the Zanu-PF youth league, Kudzanayi Chipanga expressed the youth’s preparedness to “die” in support of Mugabe’s presidency:
As the youth of Zimbabwe and as the young people whose future will be determined by the actions taken in the present, we have noted with shock, displeasure and disappointment the Press Statement of the Commander of the Defense Forces, […]. We Zanu-PF Youth League are a lion which has awakened and found its voice, therefore we will not sit and fold our hands whilst cheap potshots and threats are made against the legitimate and popularly elected Leader of the revolutionary party ZANU PF and Zimbabwe, His Excellency, […] Cde Robert Gabriel Mugabe. This statement is therefore issued without regret, fear or compunction. Defending the revolution and our leader and President is an ideal we live for and if need be it is a principle we are prepared to die for.
On November 14 2017, President Mugabe was confined to his home but, the army emphasized that this was “not a military takeover of government”. They claimed, instead, that it was an intervention targeting “criminals” around Mugabe in order to restore the political situation to normalcy. The youths supported Mugabe and his wife’s agenda. They were, therefore, amongst the army’s targeted criminals. To the youths, the army said: “we call upon you to realize that the future of this country is yours. Do not be enticed with the dirty coins of silver, be disciplined and remain committed to the efforts and values of this great nation”.
The youth played a significant role in the forming of Zimbabwe’s political crisis. As such, in the search for solutions, it makes sense to request the youth to play an equally significant role. Nevertheless, it is important to realize that, in this crisis, the role the youth played was the result of manipulation and exploitation. Before Mugabe resigned, the youth were prepared to die for him. But after his resignation, they apologized for their behaviour. Notably, the Zanu-PF youth representative said:
I would like to apologise for the statement I made […] together with my executive at the ZANU-PF Headquarters. I, as leader of the revolutionary party’s Youth League, I have reflected and I personally admitted that I erred. [….] I was ill-advised to read a statement which I and the Youth League had not originated neither authored. The document that I read I was handed it over […] We are still young people. We are still growing up and learning from our mistakes. From this big mistake, we have learnt a lot.
Given the foregoing situation, it is difficult to believe that the Zanu-PF youth league knows its role in Zimbabwean politics. One could contend that, all along, these youths had no clear agenda, nor policies and values compelling enough to command the respect of other citizens. Essentially, the youth were not in control of their political fate; and it is nearly impossible for such a group of people to make its voice heard.
The youth, in its bid to be recognized, cannot be seen as a group of people that commits mistakes and needs to be corrected. Such a group will be manipulated, used and exploited by some people for their personal interests. Zimbabwe shows it would also be difficult to entrust such a group with great responsibilities of leadership. The question then becomes, how can the youth affirm their independence in order to effectively participate in shaping the future of their countries?
The Youth-Elder Cultural Relationship
Cultural views stifle the independent growth of young African politicians. In various ways, African cultural wisdom disadvantages the youth. To illustrate, the Igbo people of Nigeria hold that “a young man standing cannot see what an old man will see sitting down”. Traditionally, this suggests that wisdom and credible solutions to problems can only be found in elders. In Sierra Leone, “an okro plant cannot grow taller than its farmer” to mean that “the young cannot be greater than the elder”. Similarly, in Rwanda, “shoulders cannot grow taller than the neck”. The okro and the shoulders symbolize the youths and insinuate that they are dependents and subordinates to elders.
One could say that the problem is not in African wisdom, but in how such wisdom is interpreted. In as much as there can be many interpretations of such words of wisdom, they, however, entail a subtle yet clear reminder to the youth that they should know where they belong vis-à-vis elders. These cultural views unmistakably ascribe power and authority to old age. They suggest that when one grows older, one accumulates experience, and so becomes wiser and more capable of having a good understanding of one’s social, cultural, and political environment. If this is correct, then eldership and leadership cannot be separated.
When choosing leaders, we mostly want knowledgeable and wise individuals who can make informed and effective decisions. No doubt, some positions of great responsibility require experience and wisdom. However, one cannot have leadership experience without having been a leader. Consequently, if leadership is to be effective among young people, we need to challenge our cultural views on the youth and provide spaces for the youth to develop their leadership abilities. To gain experience, the youth need to start leading, side-by-side, with the elders.
Cultural views create the contextual background of how the society functions. The culture sets the norms and behaviours of a society. In this way, culture contributes to the sustainable growth of society and can be a great armour against the challenges of modernism. However, overemphasizing culture can also lead either to stagnation in the unproductive status quo or to the inability to adapt to new challenges. Since we live in changing world and since we continuously face new challenges, the solutions to any cultural challenges cannot be found in receding into the status quo. We must face them.
The earlier African societies begin to face such challenges, the sooner such societies will become better equipped in overcoming them. In this context, if wisdom, commonly the property of elders, is the capacity to practically solve societal problems, then it is not age that matters but exposure and a strong willingness to overcome challenges. The more the youth are involved in the matters of the society, the more informed and skilled they will become at an early age. Nevertheless, if the youth are not involved in leadership at an early age, once older they will be unprepared “for the challenges of leadership” or be “ill-equipped to tackle development problems”.
Essentially, youth is not an impediment to leadership. Africa’s history of anti-colonialism provides convincing evidence of the effectiveness of young leaders. For instance, in their struggles for independence, Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana), Julius Nyerere (Tanzania), Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia) and others were between 25 and 35 years old. Without a doubt, these countries had older people who could have led their countries to independence. However, these young men had a clear sense of freedom, independence, justice, and development.
It does not require old age to understand that oppression, discrimination and corruption are detrimental to the human well-being. This is the same spirit that guided young military leaders such as Thomas Sankara, Yoweli Kaguta Museveni, and Paul Kagame to wage wars, risking their youthful lives, to fight governments they considered ineffective, corrupt, and criminal. In all these cases, despite the youth of these men, the historic studies show that their countries experienced stable economic growth and transformation.
However, as the cases of Zimbabwe and Uganda largely illustrate, the older and more resistant to change the presidents of these countries became, the poorer, unsafe and politically divided their countries grew. If, as history suggests, African countries can triumph when led by young people why does the continent not recognize the strength of the youths and give them the opportunity to lead?
Competition is one of the greatest pillars of a democratic system of governance. To be a leader in a democracy, candidates have to prove to the nation that they are the best persons needed in solving the problems of the people based on their policies, character, political and academic abilities, and their concern for the well-being of the nation. In a truly democratic system, all citizens have equal rights, freedom and opportunity to compete for leadership. However, it is not uncommon in African communities to hear that when “an old man speaks, the child [youth] must listen”, and that a son has no right to challenge his father while he is under his father’s roof.
As a result, young Africans know “they are generally not to speak when elders are speaking”. This, indeed, illustrates the willingness of Africans to respect and listen to wisdom that comes with age. However, such “respect”, when arbitrarily demanded, is incompatible with democratic competition for positions of leadership. You cannot compete without speaking out, without making your voice heard, without challenging your competitors.
The demand to respect elders is and has been a culturally legitimate whip that elders have used and still use to manipulate the youth for their own interests. Of course, one could argue, it is impossible to have politics without a culture since cultures “guide thought, action and systems”. It is important to appreciate and uphold our cultures but it is even more important to critically assess what our cultures imply. That said, we expect leadership to promote the common good. Without being too pessimistic, African leaders who cling to power aggravate the problems of this continent. A number of them destroy “the future of the next generation through incompetent economic management, under-investment in human capital, and destruction of institutions to preserve their personal power and access to the natural resources of the continent”. These leaders treat “their countries as giant personalized cash dispensers”.
Surprisingly, the same leaders attract “reverence and unbridled loyalty from their supporters. Equally, being seen as ‘fathers of the nation’, who led independence or liberation struggles, make them irreproachable, irrespective of their shortcomings, extending their tenure”. Zimbabwe clearly illustrates this reality. It is a moral obligation to respect elders, however, corrupt elders need to be questioned, challenged and called to order. It is the responsibility of the African youths not to fall under the trap of culture’s demand for respect for elders.
In as much as culture is important, if leaders do not respect the youth’s future and if they do not advance the common good, the youth need not respect the elders either. It is wrong to keep silence “when the elderly person is doing things wrongly, things that are destroying or capable of destroying both the old and the young, both the present and future generations”. How, then, can the youths break their silence? How can the youths create a new culture? The youth, I suggest, can make their voice heard through consultation, collaboration and the creation of independent youth-led groups and movements.
Consulting the youth in making national policies constitutes an effective channel to solve their actual problems. It is generally accepted that when policies are people-centered, they solve actual problems of citizens. However, to know these problems, it is important for leaders to be close to people, to engage them about their issues and to involve them in finding solutions. The elders in leadership need to communicate with the youth and listen to their needs and visions. Consultation, therefore, could be an important initial stage through which elders can know the real aspirations of the youth in order to respond accordingly.
Nonetheless, cultural biases remain serious obstacles to frank dialogue between old and younger generations. Even if this bias obstacle is overcome, there is, arguably, no guarantee that when the youth voice their views the older, ruling generation will make them a national priority in policy implementation. Due to a historical lack of accountability and transparency common across post-independence African nations, it is not unthinkable that the elders could remain self-serving despite showing initial interest in the problems of the youth. Hence, though consultation is an important initial stage to initiate inter-generational dialogue, it must lead to some form of collaboration.
Collaboration, here, means making a joint effort in building human society. Old and younger generations must sit at the same table, and work together by equally raising their problems and concerns. Collaboration would help to frame adequate, comprehensive and balanced policies to deal with the diverse challenges of society. More so, it would bring about the spirit of holding each other accountable with regards to policy-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. To be effective, collaboration must have no traces of cultural subordination. It must consider the youth as equal partners and shareholders in the development of their nations. Ultimately, the youth need to realize that are fundamental differences between the issues faced by young and older people. Hence, in order to gain the confidence of elders and to drive considerable change, the youth must be very strategic.
The first prerogative for the youth is, therefore, hard work propelled by a strong result-oriented mindset. This will enable the youth to show the older generation that the younger generation is different from how it is usually conceived. Changing the mindset of elders cannot be achieved without giving significant focus to certain virtues such as discipline, integrity, honesty and professionalism. For this reason, education is central in empowering the youth.
Secondly, it is important to recognize the difference of ideals and needs between young and older people in order to create a political environment that allows everyone to feel that they are listened to. For instance, young people may feel that the ideas of old folks are inappropriate for future development. If the youth heatedly expressed these feelings to old generations, who, culturally, like to be respected, then tension would arise and would undermine the whole purpose of collaboration. The youth, therefore, would benefit from looking at the greater goal of collaboration. This would allow them to acknowledge “that experience and wisdom [that] comes with age has a vital role to play” and that such experience and wisdom should not be overlooked.
When one surveys African political landscapes, it is difficult to believe that the absence of youth-based solutions in politics is rooted in the lack of youth-elder joint effort in governance. In a number of countries, the majority of ruling parties have large cohorts of youth leagues with whom they co-rule. In fact, the members of these ruling party youth leagues outnumber the seniors in the same parties. Consequently, the argument that the youths are under-represented in politics or that they are discriminated against and marginalized seems to lack strong foundations. There are different reasons, however, the most salient, I believe, is that the youth are also guilty of the evil that they want to eradicate.
The youth complain that older generations have failed the continent through corruption, fund embezzlement, tribalism, under-investment in human capital, dictatorship and power monopoly. Moreover, the youth often claim that the “generation that secured independence blocked the path of the younger people in political life and in state bureaucracy”. One cannot deny this fact, as it is true; for instance, in Zimbabwe where Mugabe and the war veterans ruled the country for decades. The most important issue, however, is that the youth have been as corrupt, incompetent, tribalist and inefficient as their seniors.
In Zimbabwe, to stay in power, Mugabe and his ruling party needed a task force to neutralize the opposition. The Zanu-PF youth league played a significant role in the violent intimidation of opposition parties. Similarly, in Rwanda, during the 1994 genocide, youth-led group, the Interahamwe, contributed, as pro-regime militia, in the killings. Recently, in Burundi, young people were a key force in perpetrating violence and crimes. It is, therefore, reasonable to argue that instead of solely fighting to save Africa from its predicaments, the youth have also been the cause and the agents of the intensification of African problems. Hence, though one may claim that the youths are marginalized, victims of exploitation and manipulation, it is important to acknowledge their responsibility in the problems of our continent. This will allow contemporary youths to be aware of such acts of violence and to put in place strategies to prevent young people from succumbing to such trickery and deception again.
An evaluation of the youth’s participation in African politics cannot be complete if we do not illustrate, with historic examples, that the youths are a force that cannot be ignored when they desire to change the course of history. The youth are unstoppable if they are determined to eradicate some forms of injustices. For instance, Anne Heffernan notes that, in 1976, conscious of inequality and racism that ravaged South Africa for years, the school children of Soweto took action:
“[….] thousands of Soweto school children took to the streets to protest the racism and inadequacy of Bantu Education. That moment has come to symbolise the role that young people have played and can play in shaping South Africa’s political discourse. It remains a touch point for student activists today”.
This case of South Africa shows a group of children who organized themselves to challenge unjust regime. As a result, the contributions of these children gave the struggle to eradicate apartheid a renewed energy both in the country and outside. Contrary to this case of Soweto children, some African youths remain silent and watch the political, economic and social situations of their countries degenerate. One would think that this is what happened to Zimbabwe, for instance, when Mugabe’s long leadership plunged the country into different kinds of hardships. The children of Soweto challenge contemporary youth to abhor what is wrong and to do the best they can to initiate change.
One strategy, therefore, that could help the youth to effectively challenge leaders who plunge their countries into hardship is not to join their parties (given the problems already raised) but to create diverse and independent political and non-political movements through which they would make their voices heard. These movements could be independent political parties, student and religious movements, social and cultural groups. The mandate of these youth movements, amongst many others, should include:
⎈ Understanding the existing systems of leadership to appreciate their strengths and expose their weaknesses;
⎈ Raising awareness about the political reality of their countries;
⎈ Providing forums for discussion; and
⎈ Involving members of the older generation who share the same ideology with the youths in their political struggles to change structural injustices.
Such youth-led movements, it is inevitable, would face resistance from the older generations. For instance, in 2002, in his inauguration speech, the former president of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, pledged to rule the country based on accountability and transparency. Under Kibaki’s administration, a young man, John Githongo, 37 years old, became the anti-corruption officer. However, his role in politics was short-lived. The prevalence of corruption forced him out of Kenyan politics. Ify Ogo notes that:
In 2005, three years after, Githongo resigned his position in government, and then published revelations which revealed the extent of corruption in Kenya, including a 500 million pound scam, implicating the Presidency and Senior Government Officials. His decision was triggered by admissions of corrupt activity by his employers: “they told me it was them…these ministers, my closest colleagues sat there and told me to my face that they, they were the ones doing the stealing. Once they said that, I knew I had to go”.
This reality reveals that some of our leaders promise transparency and accountability but do the opposite once in power. They camouflage a lot of crimes and base their leadership through hypocrisy. As a result, since the stakes are high, the youths who join politics must make clear decisions: to either join the corrupt club and become one more corrupt leader and perpetuate the African problems or to remain consistent and expose such cases of corruption. The latter would provoke a lot of attention and could have the potential to initiate change. However, it could also imply for the youth sacrifice in the forms of persecution, unjust imprisonment, exile and even loss of life. Should we then hold, ultimately, that the youth and their older counterparts are potential enemies?
A cordial relationship between elders and the youth is what seems ideal. However, especially in politics, relationships aren’t so simple. For instance, in Zimbabwe, elders felt that the youths, the Generation-40, were disrupting their political control over the country. Thus, elders felt insecure and that they could lose their respect in the public arena. If everyone strives not to promote common interests but personal ones, conflicts of interest arise. If the youth, by attempting to promote common interests, jeopardize those of individual elders, then they become a danger to elders. To befriend such elders would mean keeping silence when the common good is at risk. As a result, both elders and the youths would become the enemies of national good.
To avoid such a scenario, the youth would need to make the common good the foundation of their participation in politics. Whoever is the enemy of the common good becomes an immediate enemy of the youth. In stating this, my primary aim is not to promote youth-elder wars but to move beyond a risk-free understanding of political participation. It would be very naïve to invite the youth to take part in politics without letting them know both the ideals and actual realities of human dealings in politics. It is important to know that politics involves interests and that when interests conflict there must be urgent means of solving the problems before they escalate into ordeals of war and social conflict.
The Youth as Agents of Change
Africa is a young continent. The majority of its population is younger than 35. However, the leadership of this continent is in the hands of a few old people. This under-representation of the youth mainly stems from cultural views and in the lack of effective coordination among the youth around their problems, ideals and visions. To overcome this reality, the youth must be pro-active and take charge of their future. The youth are an advantage and a potential driver of African development. However, to achieve this development, the youth need to wake up to their reality. They must participate in the politics of their nations and challenge their government in order to solve problems that concern the common good.
Ultimately, the youth can be active drivers of change. This would require the youth to be more independent, and to have clearer political agendas in order to make their voices heard. So long as the youth are vulnerable to being manipulated, exploited and used as instruments of intimidation, they will continue to lose all chances at wining the trust of the general population. This could be a serious impediment to making any change. To overcome these challenges, the youths need to consult and collaborate with elders that share their goals. But, most importantly, the youth must create independent youth-led groups and movements in order to provide adequate forums to discuss their problems, develop policies, ideals and ideas that would propel real change⎈