ZAMBIA yesterday joined other nations in celebrating Youth Day, an annual event at which homage is paid to the youth who participated, and still do, in various spheres of national development.
Across the country, youths donned in colourful attire as they staged march pasts to the amusement of onlookers.
Of course this was against the advice by leaders of some opposition political parties who had made it clear even before the day came to pass that their youth supporters would not take part.
But looking at the number of the youth who were present, as well as those who took part in the events, one may conclude that the call on the youth aligned to the opposition not participate did not have any impact at all on the celebrations.
Those who witnessed the events in Lusaka, and even those who were watching the proceedings on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation’s television channel from the comfort of their homes, would bear witness to this fact.
In the end, Vice-President Guy Scott simply concluded that opposition parties shunned away from participating in the Youth Day celebrations basically because they did not have enough people (youths) to line up for the march pasts.
The call by some opposition parties to boycott a national event is not a new thing as they have been doing it every time such events take place.
Only last week during the International Women’s Day celebrations, opposition parties similarly asked their female supporters to shun the event.
However, even as this call was made, the day’s events passed on smoothly and no one could tell as to whether some people somewhere had boycotted the celebrations.
But these are not the only national events opposition leaders have urged their supporters to shun because they do so even when it comes to celebrating the country’s Independence Day.
Similarly like on other national and international days, no one would feel the impact of such boycotts, rendering such calls, exercises in futility.
In fact there are reports of some patriotic Zambians countrywide who have defied their leaders’ ‘orders’ and joined the rest of their countrymen and women in celebrating such very important events.
In the case of the Youth Day celebrations, people may not be surprised to find that scores of opposition youth supporters did actually ignore their leaders’ advice and took to the streets in the march pasts.
Youths should not be forced, against their will, to keep away from the day which is meant to honour them for their achievements.
History shows that youths, especially students in various parts of the world, have usually been at the apex of organising protests against all forms of injustice by those in authority.
In the struggle for independence, for instance, youths were not left out, and the famous ‘mposa mabwe’ mantra that is often spoken of came about thanks to the brave youths of yesteryears.
With no weapons at their disposal, the youth had to pick up stones to help their parents wrestle power from the hands of the colonial masters.
Even today, no one can ignore the power of the youth in the development of the country. People often hear of young people being referred to as future leaders because there can be no nation without these people.
Of course in their call on the youth to boycott Youth Day celebrations, opposition leaders point to the high unemployment rate affecting mainly young Zambians as the major reason for their decision.
But who does not know that this is a challenge not only here in Zambia but in many other countries world-wide?
It is for this reason that the Government has been calling on the private sector to join hands with it to create jobs for the youth.
It is equally precisely the same reason that authorities have come up with various initiatives such as the youth empowerment fund intended to help youngsters engage in income-generating ventures of their own and, in the process, start creating jobs for fellow youths.
Asking the youth to boycott Youth Day celebrations is certainly not helping Zambia’s youths in any way but is only tantamount to failure to acknowledge their achievements and their potential.