When I was younger death was my greatest fear. But as I grow older I’m surprised to find that what terrifies me more than death is simply to die without achieving anything worthwhile. So yesterday, as I watched thousands of young people in colourful outfits marching down the streets of Lusaka, singing and dancing about Youth Day, I realised that being young is the greatest gift we have.
Though it’s okay to say that we are as young as we feel, the truth is there are some things we can only do when we are young (nobody wants to meet their 90 year old grandmother in a tattoo parlour!) To miss the opportunity when we have it and look back with regret is the worst feeling possible.
As Zambia commemorated Youth Day this 12th day of March, I found myself looking up to young Zambian people who have risen above economic difficulties and the many other challenges faced by youths in Zambia today and grabbed hold of the opportunities presented to them. I’m inspired not only by those who have succeeded, but also those who simply took the chance, even if they failed.
Lukundo Nalungwe’s story stands out – after three attempts to take part in the M-Net Face of Africa contest, she went on this year to become the first Zambian woman ever to scoop the title! And probably one of the most influential Zambian newcomers globally is Dambisa Moyo, economist and author of Dead Aid, named by TIME Magazine last year as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, and honoured by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders. Then there’s Amon Simutowe, International Grandmaster of the World Chess Federation, Esther Phiri WIBF Intercontinental Junior Lightweight Champion and former GBU Junior Lightweight Champion, Robert Earnshaw a Zambian-born Welsh international football player, Muna Ndulo, Director of Cornell University’s Institute for African Development, Chasaya Sichilima regarded as one of Zambia’s prolific singers, songwriters and performers, Caitlin Papier international electric violinist and so it goes on …
It’s people like these who give us the courage to believe that nothing is impossible until we try it and find it to be so. It also goes to show that Zambia has great potential and it is up to the young people of today to stand up, take a hold of their dreams and lead the way.
In the words of Douglas McArthur, “People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interests wrinkles the soul.”
Posted by Nambeye Katebe