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Young East Africans, learn a trade, politics isn’t one

The conversation I listened, largely forms the basis of my column today. And what a conversation it was. In brief, two young men and their father had a case that required to be heard and they chose their friend’s father who, for all intents and purposes, is their guardian.

The guardian pays university fees for one of the two lads and generally speaking ensures that they have something to eat. On this day and age of challenging economic times, this is a very commendable role, based on what the society that was being built by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and other founding fathers.

Sadly with free market economy, our hearts became cold and many young people have no good Samaritans to turn to, in terms of their needs for physical and economic well being. In that absence, today our universities have become dens of inequity. Some of them allegedly are homes to call-girls who ply their trade in city centres to make ends meet.

However that is the story of another day. In the case I happened to listen, the university student had dragged along his brother and father into a matter weighing on his heart, which he wanted resolved by his sponsor, a true gentleman if you asked me. His case was simple as he told it.

He had identified an opportunity and he wanted the assistance of his sponsor to invest in his opportunity so that he could reap the benefit and thus spare the sponsor the agony of meeting not just his college fees and personal needs but also those of his brother and of his not very well endowed father.

On the face of it, looked to be a well thought idea so the captive audience was curious as to what was this bright idea that had hit our next Steve Jobs (Apple Inc) or Face book co-founder Mark Zuckergerg! In his narration, he had identified an opportunity to leap frog in life through student politics and as such had offered to throw his hat in the ring and contest for leadership as student leader at DARUSO.

Those who do not know DARUSO is the Dar es Salaam University Students Organization and our young friend was bubbling with enthusiasm of how he had designs of becoming DARUSO Chairman and using the bridge to contest the 2015 election and becoming Member of Parliament for his rural home constituency.

As a wise ideologist, he wanted to get his sponsor to invest 3m/- in this investment for campaign T-shirts, posters, transports and whatever else politicians spend money on as well as invest in the name of representation. What would your advice be to this dreamer whose chance as a young aspiring Marketing Manager, has yet to be met but has already made a leap for the big pie in wanting to leap frog life’s normal steps?

Many East African youths find themselves in this dilemma if I may call it so! At Primary School today in East Africa , it is unlikely if you asked what people want to achieve in their lives. You will not hear doctor, pilot, teacher like it used to be in the 60’s , 70’s even the 80’s. They all want to be “dogo janja” (smart chap) and make music for a living.

If they survive and get to university as our protagonist has, they all aspire to be “youth league” central committee members and become part of the ruling elite. Nothing wrong with that, in fact, there is nothing wrong with ambition per se. It happens in Kenya, it is there in Uganda where the youngest MP is a 19 year old girl.

I have nothing against young people being in politics and leadership. However, I am a strong believer that there is a certain thing people gain from following the beaten path, unless indeed they are Mack Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. The beaten path means if you are in school, for heaven’s sake, just stay in school until you are mature enough.

After that you will probably be in college and life may have taught you a thing or two. If on the other hand one is in college and studying a craft, for God’s sake go on and practice the craft. Politics is not a craft and sooner or later, one may fail in politics. This is where your craft becomes useful as one can always go back and practice what they trained for.

If one becomes an MP without a base, it is a case of planning for disaster in later years and we have seen many. Seek ye first the kingdom of trade, craft and experience and all else shall be yours young man. For comments utafitinews@yahoo. com Twitter @motowntz

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