The Illusion of Generational Change

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The term ‘Generational Change’ has become a sort of past-time of most youths. The stark reality is that the eventual takeover of a generation of people is inevitable. However, where the rudiments needed to effect such change are absent, the concept is short-lived and perhaps soars as wishful thinking. The concept, sometimes, tends to lend itself to demagoguery.

Every generation throughout history will have its place and time.

The ongoing struggle to assume mantle of a nation seems to be an underpinning urge of a generation that feels a huge sense of neglect, marginalization and snub from the elder generation.

But, do generations ever change? Generations, however, transition from one phase to another. The product is either a mimic of the preceding generation or a makeup of its own.

One might wonder if one generation is holding firm to a grip of the torch or simply nostalgic of the yester years.  But, generations ought to replace and continue the course.

Like the Afro-French revolutionary and author of ‘The Wretched Earth,’ Franz Omar Fannon said, “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.” 

In the Liberian case, the vibe to replace a generation seems to be couched primarily in the concept of political power. Politics, it seems, is the coveted prize. Whilst generational change is inevitable, it’s not instantaneous. Generational transition lends itself more flexibility, to gradually metamorphose into a generation that had immersed itself with the requisite time, toil, skill set and experience to lead the fight.

The obsession with the current generation to steer the affairs of politics drives the concept towards a stalemate. Politics is not everything.

The neglect of science & technology- a discipline that requires immense innovation that could transform lives is troubling. Perhaps, the proponents of generational change should opt for changes in this area by organizing themselves into think tanks and petitioning government or international professional bodies to fund research. Whilst brain drain remains a cancer on the intellectual community of African societies, the gravitation to politics becomes a virus that shatters the dreams of innovative young minds if it becomes a refuge for desperate youths.

The exodus of professionals –doctors, engineers, surgeons, lawyers who abandon their professions for the charms of politics might be sending a wrong signal to youths yearning for directions.

Liberia with a rich history, culture and people, stands like a barren land with abandonment of the arts, with mushrooming talents of poets, writers, painters, dramatists, story tellers, carvers, and dancers. All these could transform Liberia into a cultural village of Africa. As a first colony of the ACS to resettle former slaves, Liberia could be a prime destination for tourism. African American descendants who might want to reconnect with their history, people of the Congo, the Caribbean and West Indies might want to fill the dots in their cultural heritage by visiting Liberia. Tribes from Ghana, Mali, and Songhay empires who resettled in Liberia might attract brothers in cultural and history sharing through cultural seminars and symposiums. These remain invisible to youths yearning for generational change.

Probably, politics should open its arms or flip over and allow the youths to see beyond the horizon that more opportunities lie in our inherent talents-sports, folklore and contemporary music, dance, our movie industry, fine arts, textiles and garment making, exposing Liberian cuisine to international acumen, our own true Liberianness; who we are.

The government, through the relevant agencies should encourage innovation, requests for essays, papers and presentations on contemporary challenges and engage the youths intellectually.  These exercises would expose the hidden potentials and spark the creativity in many youths. Some will recognize their limitations and be motivated to improve.

The emergence of think tanks could help government in responding to current challenges.

Youths themselves, should seek to explore every opportunity to improve themselves, garner the necessary skills and become productive. With no skill, the canopy of political shelter is temporary, and when removed; one’s exposed and vulnerable to manipulation.

When the concept of generational change is fixated on a grand march to the public sector, vital untapped areas that unveils the true strength of a nation are overlooked. Generations are like free falling bodies as described by Sir Isaac Newton, once up, would someday come to roost. The change is on, the failure to learn the code, might wake one up to a generation lost in its tracks. The result is disillusionment.

The coffee is spilling-wake up!

About the Author

Lekpele M. Nyamalon is an emerging Liberian writer and poet. He was the winner of the 2015 World Poetry Day contest organized by Young People Today and a Poet-in-residence on Goree Island, Senegal, sponsored by the Open Society Initiative of West Africa. In 2014, his poem ‘This Place our place was featured in the World Anthology of Poems’. He can be reached at [email protected] /[email protected]

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