Scramble for Youth



In the 19th century, European countries scrambled for the riches and resources of Africa. Nowadays, there is a new scramble - one which impacts the youth of our nation and the future for all. Without due attention, this scramble will lead us to a culture and reality whereby are youth placed in danger at every turn.


There was a time when European countries came down to Africa to quench their greed in the form of power and resources. This quest for more land and slaves at the beginning of the 19th Century was referred to as the ‘scramble for Africa’.

In recent times, however, this term has been given a political upgrade, and is being used to indicate the leasing of large areas of virgin land to so-called “investors” at rates even cheaper than during colonial times. Be that as it may, there are many political observers who would venture into categorising the vulnerability of young men and women as the “scramble for the youth”.

In a very poor country like Ethiopia, where the mainstay of the majority of the population is rain-fed subsistence agriculture, children are considered as sources of additional farm labour. Because of the poor healthcare conditions, however, the child morbidity rate is far higher than elsewhere.

As time went on, the share of land to be tilled continued to be fragmented to the extent of being scrambled over by members of the same family. The same land being shared among succeeding generations had in many places reached a point of maximum sustainability and ceased to be productive. In fact, soil degradation and soil erosion over the years have turned the virgin land barren and devoid of green vegetation. Thus, reforestation has to be carried out as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, however, the young farmhand, who was once believed to be an additional resource, has become a redundant liability and a burden. Children, as assets of alternative resource, are sent to school, entailing their respective costs on the income of each household. School uniforms, books, stationery and all the rest of it have to be covered.

The school community, as well as parents, try to mold the developing youngsters in an effort to nib their growth while they are still budding. It is now the field of modern technology, sports and mobile phone games that are scrambling to carry away the attention of the youth. As useful as the computer is in providing information through the Internet, these technological implements are also being misused by youngsters. Pornographic videos, for example, have a negative impacts on the minds and thoughts of youngsters, who spend hours and hours watching such videos.

Sports, in general, and football in particular are also among the profound scramblers for the youth. Football hooliganism, seen all over the world, seems to now have entered the Ethiopian Premier League, with supporters developing a trend of violence.

Musical concerts and night clubs are now coupled with the shadow markets of hashish smoke and khat chewing, again making the youth more vulnerable. Youngsters seem to be emerged in the engagement of the wrong concepts of modernity.

They fall prey to human traffickers and try to flee their country, either by sea or land, at the cost of both their money and dear lives. Migration, be it as asylum seekers or in search of a better life, either in Europe or the Middle East, seems to be a reason for escape. The lack of jobs and dependence on their families for employment after graduation, under the impact of nepotism, causes them to run away. Hundreds have lost their lives in this way, out of sheer desperation.

Political parties, including a few from the opposition, try to recruit the youth and use them as human shields, making them vulnerable to all kinds of struggles aimed at achieving a brighter future. Another impact comes from cajoling and fondling the opposite gender, usually being carried away by physical appearance. This is more often than not translated into unceasing telephone calls, under the narrative of love.

Another impact is a death dealing engagement being faced by the youth. Coming to Addis Abeba, or any other major urban centre, after selling their parents property like a pair of oxen, one of the easiest ways of finding employment is buy purchasing a driver’s licence. These are sold in the form of forged documents, which enable one to hit the roads, even in heavy-duty trucks.

The rate at which the number of vehicles is increasing on the roads of Addis Abeba is almost exponential. And hence the intensity of traffic accidents, and the consequential impacts this has, are nowadays showing up at an incredible rate. Thus Ethiopia, despite the low number of vehicles on the streets, is now among the highest in terms of traffic accidents. If these are not ‘scrambling’ the lives of the youth, I will have to apologise for the enormous use of the term “scramble”.



By Girma Feyissa


Published on Jun 21,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 842]


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