To OBI’dient or not to OBI’dient: The power of Africa’s youths
When the great William Shakespeare wrote Hamlets historic line that has captivated, dazzled, and intrigued generations of scholars, academia and millions of students of literature since its 1600 origin, I am very sure there was something he never saw in his most vivid and creative of imagination. The salient question of the day in Nigeria –
to “OBI”dient or not to “OBI”dient.
If you are the mischievous type, you might argue that his question is still very relevant in this trend because the letter and word “B” is common on both sides of the literature equation – to “B” or not to “B”.
So here is a question I would like to ask. Why is the ground suddenly shaking gently and showing steady signs of shifting, and the crops above are gentle losing their leaves, and suddenly falling to the ground. Well, perhaps the shift started many months ago, but the world is formally finally taking notice now because the youths of Africa
as a whole have found their voice, or as some would put it, they have found their grove, just like Stella did in the 1998 Angela Bassett movie, Not Just Africa – Europe Enlists
But here is the truth. This renaissance of a youth voice is not just in Africa. It is a global renaissance of a movement, from Tunisia to Sudan, from Algeria to Egypt and since we are entitled to our opinions but not our facts, I would share this small story with you all, to support this notion that Europe has joined the train.
Back in 2016, there was a wind of change blowing across one of Europe’s largest economies – France. The elections have abounded, and the main left and right parties (PS and LR) had fielded their candidates, as the usual sacrificial lambs. But there was some ground shaking going on, and for the first time in decades, a fringe party led by Marie Le Pen was showing some serious strength and made it to the second round of elections. But the real story in between all these French earth tremors was a young newcomer to the national stage in his own right, named Emmanuel Macron – all 39 years of age of gusto and precision vision.
In many ways, he was a youth, by looks, age, mannerism, and his strong affinity with the more than 25% of the country’s population who were under the age of 40.
Printemps Solidaire, the nationalist social movement in France that fights to hold the government accountable thought perhaps, there was a true wind and an opportunity for real change, and the youths were going to drive this – if anyone could. They then organized one of the largest series of events and rallies for youths across the country,
and invited 3 headlines in one segment – Bill Gates (who believes in the power of youths), Ndaba Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s grandson – and a male South African youth leader, and myself – Zuriel Oduwole, (seen as a teenage female global youth voice), to speak to the youths of France about the power of their voice and mighty might, of their vote.
Guess what. Ten days after the end of the event, the elections concluded. France elected its youngest President in Emmanuel Macron since the republic was founded over 200 years ago.
The voice and power of youths had carried him over the well-established candidates, and their vote had changed the course of France’s history – forever.
“Vive La France”, as many there would say !!
That Wind of Change has left France – Is Nigeria Next?
Africa’s most populous nation – Nigeria, is today in 2022 at that same critical point France was in 2016, at the cusp of the re-birth of a nation. In Nigeria, that twilight is led by a constituency brewing with sheer vibrancy and echoing hope from the distance, in their gentle but growing voice as the country’s youths.
Never quite known to be organized as a political movement, the youths have slowly begun to galvanize and organize themselves into what might truly be the best social security and future commonwealth for the country. No – I don’t mean money, nor do I mean investment, but rather, a sheer will and determination to lay the strong foundations of a better and more inclusive and prosperous giant on the continent,
in the making.
So, are they so wrong to want this change for their country. Perhaps that is why the question is still being asked – to “OBI” diet, or not to be. Well, we all would find out the effect of the power of this wind of change, in 2023. But then again, do we all have to wait till then?
Oduwole is a 19-year-old global girl education advocate from California. Currently a masters degree student in Global Risk & International Affairs. She is a UN designated climate neutral champion and documentary filmmaker who meets regularly with world leaders, to proffer solutions on social development issues.