By Katherine Nabuzale
The future of the youth is the key for social, political and economic stability of our nation. However, the youth are increasingly being disengaged from participation in core obligations and responsibilities, which form the foundation of our societies and nation. Of even growing concern, is the disorientation of the youth from the fundamental cores and responsibilities, due to the increasing obsession and desire for wealth, admiration and respect for the wealthy rather than respect for values and principles.
Time and again, the importance of the values of honesty, hard work and selfless service for the wider benefit beyond self, which are essential and indispensable for the development of self, society and the country are merely preached rather than mentored to the youth. There is a growing void of exemplary mentorship to the youth, who are the future of our country, which seriously threatens the foundation of our nation.
For the youth to appreciate the ideals of honesty, hard work and selfless service, they need role models to look onto, so that they are inspired and motivated to nurture and cherish these virtues. They need the right people to get them charged up for the various challenges and pressures they face or that await them.
The question to ponder on then is, who are the immediate examples the youth are looking up to, to encourage them to embrace and put these principals in practice? Undeniably, it is the responsibility of all leaders, in their various capacities and occupations to be exemplary, well-knowing that their conduct and behaviour is a direct influence to the youth. In most instances, the youth look at their leaders as role models, who play a direct role in shaping their thoughts, choices and zeal.
Unfortunately, one wonders what kind of example our leaders are imparting on the youth when the press and the media are ceaselessly teeming with repugnant scandals. It is ironical for one to preach honesty and hard work when he/she can't walk a quarter of that, for example, when Ugandans are dying of preventable diseases because funds allotted for their cause were misappropriated, when teachers are paid peanuts, yet they bear the burden of grooming the youth and when there is a lot of sectarianism among others. Ridiculously, a lot of funds are now being spent to teach the youth about being patriotic. On the contrary, it would be much easier and even more effective for the youth to learn about patriotism, if leaders practice and demonstrate it.
With such a state of affairs, one can't hesitate to acknowledge that there is a quick decline of honest, hardworking and selfless leaders. Wealth gained through dishonest means such as corruption, bribes and oppression has never been a good example of hard work! It is an observation detrimental to the youth and society. The resultant consequence is the youth failing to respect the importance of honesty and hard work after witnessing leaders shamelessly swindle public money with impunity. Proper accountability has been thrown out of the widow. The growing number of leaders exposed in scandals of mistrust ascertains the fact that the philosophies and behaviours of leaders motivate other people to either offer their best or the other way round.
If the youth are to appreciate hard work, more so, as a means for sustainable development, leaders should walk the talk. They have to live-up to the ideals of exemplary leadership. If they go wrong or make a mistake, they should have the audacity to admit it. It is only moral and serves to encourage the youth to appreciate responsibility and accountability, key values of selfless service. Leaders should also strive to demonstrate high integrity because they are more or less a mirror to the youth.
Youth across the country have the potential to be honest and work hard, they desire to be patriotic and love their country but they are consistently getting frustrated because of lack of exemplary leaders. Widespread mistrust is creating a loss of national pride and forcing many youth into unproductive options, like gambling, a scourge terribly hitting otherwise productive young men and women. Patriotism can only be achieved by practice and demonstration with emphasis on national values. Leaders should distance themselves from corruption and all its related evils and strive to be the change they want to see in the youth, so that honesty, hard work and selfless service can cut through to the youth.
The writer is from Bulambuli, Mbale