Fostering Intergenerational Dialogue for a Democratic Future: The Vital Role of Youth

While adults possess knowledge, experience, and resources, youth bring technological savvy and novel ideas to the table.
Ocheck Msuva17 September 20233 min

In the past week, our nation has borne witness to two significant events that have the potential to reshape the course of democratic leadership.

The Special Meeting of the Council of Political Parties and Democracy Stakeholders, themed ‘Strengthen Democracy Preserve Peace,’ focused on evaluating Task Force Proposals and assessing the current political landscape.

Simultaneously, the Commemoration of Democracy Day revolved around empowering the next generation for reconciliation, resilience, reforms, and rebuilding.

Fortunately, I had the privilege of being actively engaged in both events as a participant or through my office colleague.

Upon reflection on the outcomes of these meetings, two compelling questions emerged in my mind. Can we genuinely envision and discuss the future without placing the youth at the centre stage, guiding the discourse? Can we manifest this future without fostering meaningful intergenerational conversations?

While the organisers of these events did include youth representation, from my perspective, the youth primarily assumed the role of listeners rather than active participants in shaping the discussions.

READ MORE: Amplifying Youth Ingenuity in Shaping Tanzania’s 2050 Development Vision

Most of the panellists were not predominantly composed of youth. If we aspire to engage the youth in shaping the future leadership of our country, we must provide their innovative ideas with a prominent platform, encouraging intergenerational exchanges.

Creating space for these fresh perspectives is imperative to glean insights that can inform the envisioned future we collectively strive for.

Open-minded approach

In the absence of an open-minded approach by adults to heed the ideas of the youth and integrate them into actionable plans, engaging youth in active politics becomes challenging and a missed opportunity to tap into their untapped potential.

I find inspiration in the stories of trailblazers like Salim Ahmed Salim, who became an ambassador at the age of 24, or Judge Sinde Warioba, who assumed the role of State Attorney at 26.

The fundamental difference between the youth of the 1970s and the youth of the 2020s lies in the level of trust bestowed upon them by adults.

READ MORE: How Can Tanzania’s Youth Organisations Build Capacity for Effective Civic Education?

The youth of the 1970s were empowered by the confidence and trust vested in them, which they had to earn and prove they deserved.

Reflecting on today’s youth in their twenties, I am compelled to call for their inclusion in meaningful conversations.

While some may question the value that youth can bring to commissions like the kikosi kazi, my response is simple—youthfulness, coupled with their natural curiosity, is reason enough to welcome them aboard, considering the invaluable experiences they bring to the table.

Untapped potential

Considering that according to the 2022 census, people below the age of 35 make up more than 67 per cent of the country’s population, it’s essential to recognise that this demographic represents untapped potential.

When youth and adults can understand each other’s language, we can unlock Tanzania’s potential fully.

READ MORE: Women, Youth Should Partner to Address Common Challenges

While adults possess knowledge, experience, and resources, youth bring technological savvy and novel ideas to the table. The collaboration of both can lead our community to the promised land.

Let the youth be part of commissioners and task forces dedicated to reform; this isn’t just about youth participation, but it’s about shaping the future we all desire.

It should be noted that youth need trust and confidence from adults as an empowerment measure.

When youth make mistakes, it’s not merely due to their youth; it’s often a lack of skills, information, and societal moral decay—challenges faced by members of our society regardless of their age.

Therefore, society should instil confidence in youth as part of the empowerment process.

READ MORE: Ruto, Adesina: Africa’s Youth Biggest Asset for the Continent, World

Moving forward, our collective aspiration should be to cultivate a society that respects and values its youth and actively involves them in shaping our nation’s destiny.

Their voices, ideas, and aspirations are crucial in building a brighter, more inclusive, and progressive future for all.

Let us bridge the gap between generations and foster a culture of open dialogue, where youth are not just listeners but active architects of the democratic and prosperous future we all seek.

Ocheck Msuva is the Executive Director of Bridge For Change, a local NGO promoting the meaningful participation of youth in decision-making. He is available at ocheck.msuva@bridge4change.co. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of The Chanzo. Do you want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at editor@thechanzo.com for further inquiries.

 

Ocheck Msuva

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