The beautiful and resource rich continent of Africa has for many years been portrayed by Western media as hopeless, futureless, poverty-stricken, corrupt, under-developed, and in many other unpleasant ways. However, not all these things present a true reflection of how blessed the continent is. It is true that the continent is faced with immense socio-political and economic challenges. It is also true that the continent has the longest list of leaders who have long overstayed in power and continue to plunder much needed resources while ignoring the endless needs and complaints of the poor masses.
Some of the longest serving power hungry leaders who have tarnished the image of this great continent include President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea; President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, and President Paul Biya of Cameroon. The common thing about these leaders is that they have sustained themselves in power through the weakening of the democratic institutions of their countries particularly the Constitution and repression of political dissent. It cannot be disputed that bad governance is the main source of the high poverty levels and increasing number of conflicts in the continent and this is currently evident in countries like Burundi.
Even though corruption is mainly associated with African leaders, some leaders from Western countries and other parts of the world are not saints as they continue to amass wealth through corruption. One good example is President Vladimir Putin of Russia who according to recent media reports enriches himself, his friends, and his close allies through state assets. This is not to promote or justify the high corruption levels in Africa, but to request for global media to practice objective journalism by exposing all corrupt leaders regardless of where they are in the world. As part of objective journalistic practices, the great stories and successes of Africa need to be told by the media as the world deserve to know them. The impressive stories of Rwanda's rise to prosperity since the end of the 1994 genocide and Sierra Leone's victory over the deadly Ebola disease deserve to be told by the media as part of balanced reporting. People should not be deprived of such inspiring stories from the continent.
Despite of all the challenges and negative media reporting about the continent, there is still hope in Africa and its future looks bright. The future of the continent is in the hands of its smart, entrepreneurial, highly skilled, and talented young people. According to the United Nations, Africa has the youngest population in the world. It is high time that African youth including those in the Diaspora step forward and start participating in activities that will drive the continent forward. The continent of Africa will continue to be ravaged by poverty, corruption and conflict for as long as young people isolate themselves from political activities in the continent. Africa needs fresh leaders with fresh ideas and strategies, and such can only be offered by its young people. The realisation of the African Union's Agenda 2063 of a peaceful, united and prosperous Africa can be made possible by the continent's youth. It is true that the actions of African leaders have made politics to be unpalatable for young people. However, if young people do not get involved in politics, Africa's growth will be stagnant and current leaders will continue to remain in power while also enriching themselves through the precious resources of the continent. Young people need to rise up and vote for leaders who they believe will prioritise their needs.
The 2011 Egyptian youth driven Revolution that ousted one of Africa's longest serving dictators, Hosni Mubarak, truly demonstrates that young people are powerful. It is such a revolutionary spirit that Africa needs in order to confront the challenges of bad governance or poor leadership. It is high time that young people not only vote for capable leaders, but also join the leadership structures of political parties and serve in government. However, it cannot be possible for young people to participate effectively in politics if they do not know anything about it hence it is imperative that they educate themselves by reading and getting involved in political debates and discussions happening both in formal and informal platforms. It all starts by young people becoming great ambassadors of the continent and proudly identifying themselves with it regardless of where they are in the world.
Nobody else can usher Africa into a great future, unless young people take over.