I’m youth, I’m joy, and I’m a little bird that has broken out of the egg. – James M. Barrie
I remember this rather passionate conversation that happened between fellow Mauritians, one cold evening in London. So, there we were, digesting dinner over piping hot mugs of coffee, and the conversation naturally turned to the Motherland. The mood of banter naturally switched to Mauritian politics, the recent budget and all things typically in the news back home. At some point somehow, the atmosphere degenerated into a rant about the general state of affairs in Mauritius. In the face of such negativity, I just asked this plain question that created a deadpanned silence: “So what are you going to do about it?”
This point-blank critique of the country, its politicians, the government, the political movements and the like, deeply disturbs me. I, for one, completely abhor the apathy, complacence, lack of community engagement and total disenfranchisement from reality, which seem to characterise the young Mauritian population. The Mauritian youth seem to be defined by their total disconnectedness from the very essence that they should and could potentially stand for.
For me, the youth represent the power to be real motors for change, the driving force towards creativity and innovation, and a source of inspiration and hope. Mauritian youth, in this respect, have the potential to engineer the paradigm shift from the status quo to real social transformation.
Unfortunately, youth in Mauritius have this tendency to follow in the footsteps of the older generation, wallowing in silent desperation, and never daring to lead the way towards a better and brighter Mauritius. For me, each one of us can contribute, in our capacity as a citizen, whether we are physically present in the country or not, in improving the lives of others, and in shaping the future of your country.
This can be achieved in countless of ways, if only we, as young people, possess a genuine willingness to just for once abandon the rhetoric and act on our thoughts. For example, I oftentimes get exasperated when young people complain that there is no meritocracy in Mauritius and that landing a job is close to a miracle. I completely disagree. If you apply for two jobs and expect to get a call for interview within a week, then you are obviously living in Neverland. Young people need to realise that nothing will be handed to them on a golden plate. It is only with the sufficient amount of sheer hard work and dedication that you can advance towards achievement and success in life.
Only a handful of young people in Mauritius believe in giving back something to the community. Any suggestions of some form of volunteering or selfless service can only draw scoffs and sneers from the young generation. There exist numerous avenues to get involved in meaningful community service and in civic or youth movements.
Coaching and mentoring peers/students, engaging in environmental initiatives at grass root level, being vocal about things that matter as youth leaders, and just working selflessly for a special cause: there is no shortage of opportunities to improve the lives of others, while also feeling good about ourselves. Bringing a smile to someone’s face is so much more satisfying that any form of monetary reward.
But despair not! There is reason to be hopeful as to the future of the Mauritian youth. Indeed, there are brilliant young people out there who are a beacon of hope for the younger generation. The road towards empowering young people to be social transformers will be a long and arduous one. But, as a great man once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”