I am looking at my Facebook Feed right now. I see status updates from within my cycle. They are about great things. They are young. None above the age of thirty. They are youth, by any definition and doing amazing work wherever they live. Some have been recognised by several awards bodies and some remain unrecognised.
I have been mentioned a few times as a future leader, an inspirational young person and other good things, if I may indulge a bit. But what happens when we clock thirty and above? What happens when we can’t be called young without qualifying the tag with an explanation like; ‘youth’ is not about age? What happens when we have to justify being called ‘youth’? What happens? For how long can we remain youth leaders? Young people? When do we become people – or leaders, without the young and youth?
Of course my generation of young leaders, or amazing youth is not the first to be associated with these praises. They say every generation has its leaders. So, consulting generations that are now in the adult age, in the age where young does not follow someone’s achievement, is in order. Guess what I find! And do not be shy to admit it – was Yoweri Kaguta Museveni known as ‘a young’ leader when he was in his twenties and causing ripples? Okay, I knew some of you would shake your heads at the example I have chosen. So, let me rush back to our generation – do you realise that Kiprotich, the Ugandan marathoner is not defined by his age but just his achievement?
So, when we pride in these youth accolades, are we thinking that we will forever stay young? Are we preparing ourselves for that time when we shall have no ‘young’ behind our achievements? Will we have achievements then, or shall we just disappear in the clutter of adulthood and forget to achieve? Maybe it is true that being dubbed a young leader stunts one’s dreams and vision so much that when they grow they do not achieve as much because they are lost in the giant ego that developed in the phase of being called a young leader. Let us look up Nobert Mao and Odonga Otto and start telling those stories. Maybe the leaders and achievers who are aged below thirty years, like Kiprotich should just be called leaders and achievers and their age ignored. Just maybe.