News and Views

Africa: Make way for the young folks!

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Letter from the editor

The title of this issue’s editor’s letter comes from a chirpy little song I recall from my youth by The Jackson Five (or The Jackson 5ive as their logo had it).

What made me hark back to those days was that in putting together this issue, myself and my friend and publisher, Willy Mutenza decided that we would put the accent on youth.

Mr. Mutenza and I always chat and exchange ideas. And, not just about how to improve the magazine in keeping with the ‘Promota ethos’, namely showing the positive side of African dreams and aspirations. There are many falling over themselves to tell the negative side of Africa; there are whole ‘industries’ that rely on pushing the negative. We’ll leave them to it and do our thing.

There were many things that led us to this decision about celebrating the young, including the explosion of young African talent simply crying out for exposure and support. One of the things that Willy and I shared via e-mail, was a blog (Morderne Meid) by a young lady based in London, highlighting 10 inventions by young Africans (http://modernemeidwrites.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/ten-inventions-by-young-africans.html) It was a great coincidence that we came across this just as we were putting this issue to bed as it seemed to chime exactly with our chosen theme. It was interesting to note that one of the comments on the blog pointed out that we always complain that others never highlight what is good about Africa when we have many websites that are supposed to do that. You won’t find us at Promota among those doing the complaining.

As you glide through the pages of the magazine, you will notice that we are broadening the range of topics/issues and countries that we feature, to highlight the diversity that exists within the wider African Diaspora. The magazine’s name is, after all, ‘Promota Africa’ and, in taking a cue from Peter Tosh’s lyric “No matter where you come from, as long as you’re a Black man, you’re an African”, you will see articles within these pages reflecting that vision.

For myself, there is one particular bugbear that has probably been with me for most of my life both growing up in Africa and since I came to live outside. It is also one of the things at the heart of what we celebrate in this issue: giving youth a chance to shine. The reverence for and deference to the old, which is one of many good things in Africa has, in my view become abused by those same ‘edlers’ that we revere and defer to. We have leaders who seem to believe that if they ever hand over the reins of power, their countries will collapse. What other reason can there be for presidents who have served 30-plus years, reached their late 80s going once again to their electorate asking for another six years in office? There are men (mostly) still at the helm of their countries who were already politicians when I was a short-trousered schoolboy in the 1960s.

This clinging to power by politicians is symptomatic of a general refusal to either train up or make way for the youth across all areas of society that goes beyond the realm of politics alone.
For most politicians, the only time they remember ‘the youth’ is when they are filling up empty spaces in their latest manifesto or when they need energetic young ones to assist them in campaigning. Once the elections are over, courting the youth can wait till the next election.

So, old folks, look into your consciences and remember a time when you were young. Modern technology now means the young aren’t waiting for you to give them opportunities; they are making opportunities for themselves.

And, finally a big thank you for all the positive comments about the improved look and feel of the magazine. Keep ‘em coming and enjoy!

Ade Daramy, Editor, The Promota

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