The year is 2020. We are now roughly seven weeks from what is coined ‘the Mother of all Elections’ and none of the two major political parties have actually outlined a concrete plan for youth development outside of the President’s education nation mantra.
Perhaps the PPP/C tried to achieve that in their mock of a manifesto which can be easily torn apart by a simple google search but Guyanese youth have still not been given sufficient chances to be meaningfully involved in Government at the Local, Regional and Central government levels without serious opposition from some ‘more established’ party members.
I was born in 1997 and in the last 22 years, there has been no major push to ensure that youth are provided with the opportunities to lead and make decisions that affect their own lives.
The world’s population is young. Guyana’s population is young. In 2017, 42 per cent of the world’s population was under 25.
I have seen loads of PPP/C and APNU+AFC loyalists over the two decades who all have reaped the fat of the lamb take to whatever social media platform suits their interests to bark at youth who complain about youth involvement, somehow indicating that they should just toe the line; a line which will inevitably see them being eligible for ‘promotion’ in their forties and fifties when they are no longer youth.
I sometimes pay homage to the loyalists who opined on Facebook in December last, that most of the rhetoric surrounding youth involvement in politics comes from a sense of entitlement particularly from persons who have not ‘done the work’. What none of them have done is explain what ‘the work’ constitutes but it doesn’t take a scholar to see that young people have for long felt disenfranchised from the often-filthy process.
The question exists then. Why should youth be given the opportunity to participate in politics? In a changing world political and civic engagement has become broader than just political engagement because it includes social service policy and provision through involvement in health, education, urban planning etc., it encourages better citizenship and a youth for youth approach.
Let’s not stifle our consciences and act like only an ageist argument exists through the bellies of these frustrated young people. We – in the majority – do not believe that the ‘old cabal’ should be thrown out. Admittedly, many of them are learned and have great experience and wisdom vital to the development of Guyana. However, dozens of expired goods are fighting for political prowess and from all of the series I’ve binged watched, power hungry vampires always expose the vile nature of the clan and must always be terminated for the longevity of the species.
Successive governments have maintained a façade of youth involvement over the last 22 years with their often-elitist structures that bar many people with experience and loads of Political Mileage from serving – even when they are past fifty.
There are thousands of youth with the fervor and scope to lead and influence real change with a penchant for service, many of whom often shy away from politics because of the nasty ‘fight down’ attitude it encompasses.
We can no longer make the case that youth are not interested/educated/stimulated; youth are vibrant, well-read and incredibly resourceful. Youth deserve their seat at the table. Yes, we are coming with the same energy and sense of ‘entitlement’ women felt to be involved in political and civic engagement and we have every right to demand to be heard and taken seriously.
We are not asking for handouts. We are asking to be deliberately consulted and included. We are taking up space and making waves. We don’t want to be part of your ethnic and gender quota.
I am a Government supporter, but I am for Guyana first. Contrary to popular belief, being a supporter of the Government does not mean I blindly agree with everything they do. I will never let my perspectives become tainted and I will always put my Guyana first. This Government could have done better, nevertheless, one good term deserves another so ‘don’t stop the progress’.
Out of all the 5000 parties Guyana now has, the Alliance for Change (AFC) seemingly has the most vibrant youth arm – Youth for Change (YFC) – but its growth will for the foreseeable future be stymied by some older members with more ‘political mileage’ who themselves embody the same sense of entitlement they claim youth have.
The focus on youth, in terms of their engagement in the political arena should not be lost. Youth remain one of the most disenfranchised groups whether in areas involving their physical, sexual and mental health, education, access to resources, employment opportunities and business; but still, we rise.
I urge any government who has held office since 1997 to name ten youth that have been nurtured into positions of meaningful political leadership and policy formation in their sitting government.
When we speak of youth, we must not speak from our pedestals. We must not use our condescending phalanges to propel narratives that youth are lazy and have not done ‘the work’. Youth are not just for your votes and your political props. We do not need to be treated as if we cannot make meaningful impact in Guyana. We have grown weary of watching and we are coming.
Comrades, in this decade of development, let us check our privilege. Let us strive to ensure that youth have some say in the policies that will inherently affect them. All the new parties understand that the youth vote is critical and are wasting no time in promising them that they will be heard. The advantage these parties have is that they are manned by a younger following and I have seen scores of my Facebook friends (all former coalition voters) already pledge their support for the likes of TCI and ANUG because they market their product well. Be mindful of who you cross.
A 22-year-old entitled, lazy girl