The majority of Zambians living today were not born when Zambia gained independence on 24th October 1964. It is pointless talking to them about colour bar and buying meat through pigeon holes.
Equally a good third of Zambians were not there when Zambia transitioned from the one-party to the multi-party system. Therefore it is pointless talking to them about the hardships of the one party political system and the attendant problems of economic deprivation which led to shortages of almost all the essential commodities.
Talking about the liberation struggle from colonial masters and later struggling to secure a multi-party democracy does not resonate, it does not bring any sense of struggle or rekindle the images that “old timers” remember of the “bad old days”.
Instead the young people watch Television and are transported to the new worlds of New York,Hollywood,London and the greater cities of the world. They see a world in which affluence and good living are the norm rather than the exception.
The modern young people listen to Presidential debates involving the greatest nation in the world and compare the narrative toZambia-they are left frustrated and in some cases puzzled.
To them independence means very different things.
Sadly it means making a demand on the system to provide for their needs as exemplified in the last elections where grand promises of more jobs and more money in the pocket were made. Very few see a future in which they themselves become change agents to energise and invigorate a national collective development psyche or ethos.
Increasingly hard work, manual work and indeed anything other than trade makes sense. They live in a make believe world where independence means miracles without hard work. This is a Zambia built over 48 years in which economic and social policies have vacillated from one extreme to another. Under UNIP wealth and wealth creation were an anathema, under MMD the liberal economy meant the creation of an enabling environment in which personal aspirations and the search for self realisation were respected. In the new republic conflicting signals are emerging in which success or attempts at it are looked down upon and in the extreme case shunned.
Somehow this country must find a balance, a new direction and a new thinking that builds on the positive elements of the 48 years that this country has been independent. One of the most vital lessons to learn is the essence and value of self realization.
The dependence on the state as enshrined in the commandist economy must be discarded because it is a real danger to national development. The young people must be taught that the state must provide opportunities to enable the development, nurture and upgrading of individual skills talents and attributes towards the greater melting point that the country is.
A process of creative national development must embody facilitation because maiden entrants into any field will invariably require capital either for start up or development. Zambia does not lack in talent. What is required is a formal institution of backward and forward linkages that give value and enable the country to benefit from its abundant resources. Our young men and women have proved time and again that they will rise to any challenge it is therefore the duty of the government to present a feasible work programme that incorporates as many young people as possible.
If this does not happen the nation must be prepared to reap from the whirlwind of frustration.