By Lovemore Ranga Mataire
Isaiah 3 verse 5 says: “the young will rise up against the old.”
From the tone of Prophet Isaiah’s assertion, one can safely conclude that this can spell disaster.
Can this be a phenomenon taking place in Zimbabwe where youths have become the cannon fodder manipulated by opposition political parties and pseudo human rights organisation to advance their parochial agendas?
Spurred by social media frenzy, which they erroneously interpret as actual grassroots following, some youths going by the moniker #Tajamuka and other such groups as #Thisflag movement have in recent weeks unleashed a wave of violent protests demanding an array of reforms.
While the economic challenges experienced in the country might be a cause for anxiety among youths, it is the manner in which that anxiety has been expressed that clearly points to a generation that has lost its way.
More than just political protests, the violent clashes between the youths and the police points to a much broader problem that needs a holistic approach lest it’s hijacked by forces that have long wished Zimbabwe to plunge to full-blown mayhem.
There used to be a time when rebelled against age in order to usher in new epochs, but when youth mutinies against parental authority in order to usher in new epochs, but when youth mutinies against rationale thinking in order to pursue hedonistic decadence then we can be assured that what is being ushered is nothing more than social disintegration.
Youth is the barometer of the state of the nation’s moral and social wellbeing. If the behavior witnessed during the last weeks is anything to go by then alas the country can be experiencing symptoms of real social decay.
Drunken raucousness, vandalism, torching police and other people’s cars, vending stalls, the list is endless. What sort of society rears thugs, arsonists and substance abusers?
If truth be said, Zimbabwe as a society needs urgent social and spiritual rehabilitation to deal with effects of the economic challenges the country is facing as a result of Western imposed sanctions that have disrupted community safety nests that youths used to rely on.
More than just a political expression, the youths who have become instruments for stoking mayhem are seriously in desperate need for proper guidance and knowledge in understanding the why Zimbabwe is currently experiencing the current economic challenges.
Sadly, the elders of our society, politicians, businesspeople and the clergy look in askance as young girls hop in and out of bars, cars of sugar daddies and STD clinics.
They look in askance as young people ran amok in streets pursuing the agendas of regime change charlatans who are devoid of any ideological direction and whose interests are at variance with the broader interests of the majority Zimbabweans.
More than just a political expression, there is real corruption of the society that has set in with a whole generation having its thought processes seemingly concentrated on their genitals.
The truth of the matter is that there were times in the past when moral questions were simple and moral problems easily solved. The extended family was still intact and a sense of unity prevailed.
People shared a common identity, common values and goals. Sadly, all this has changed due to rapid changes in the material base. The stringent demands and bloodthirsty sacrifices of a liberalised market driven economy have wrecked havoc on the social fabric.
Ill-prepared from the liberalisation of the economy, and already spiritually decimated by one hundred years of cultural and political imperialism, youths find themselves at the mercy of new gales in the information that expose the youth to vacuous lifestyles, not all of them productive.
Many young people today live in more affluent conditions than their counterparts would have done a decade or two ago. Pampered, and brought up in relative ease, this generation incessantly clamours for freedom and ill-understood rights, which they believe their counterparts enjoy in the West.
They conveniently forget that freedom is not synonymous with irresponsibility for freedom is accompanied by a whole host of responsibilities.
Indeed, freedom demands more from those who are supposed to enjoy and benefit from it. Unfortunately, it seems some youths, with their heads buried deep into the scented clouds of Hollywood and their feet firmly planted in air, want to enjoy the fruits of freedom without owning up to its obligations.
Moreover, the activities they deem to be God-given right to pursue at best signal their immaturity and at worst point to their moral and political bankruptcy. They confuse the social media hype with the actual reality on the ground.
This is the reality that recently confronted the intellectually challenged Pastor Evan Mawarire of the #Thisflag campaign when he only managed to mobilise a paltry contingent of dubious individuals to demonstrate against President Mugabe at the United Nations General Assembly meeting that took place in New York.
Charlatans like Mawarire have simply taken advantage of a society desperately lacking in role models to provide guidance. The youths scour at the horizons of the adult world in search of role models to emulate and help them interpret the signs of the times in an idiom they can comprehend.
So what must be understood is that despite their buster and seemingly self-assurance, the youth are in actual fact overwhelmed and confused by the chaos brought about by the current social upheavals.
Their decadence can be thus interpreted as cries in the dark for help and direction. It echoes their frustration and dead-end tunnel vision in dire need of salvation.
The youths must not only be saved from the destructive effects of rapid social change, but also from themselves. Mis-educated and rudderless they constantly perform social and moral suicide, which in turn is a form of indictment on society that allows things to deteriorate to this level and fosters the rot that virtually eats all up.
What is critical is for key decision makers in society including the government to begin to decipher the hidden text in the youth’s behavior, and the unvoiced appeals in the creams of their outrageousness. It is when it feels misunderstood, ignored that youth lashes out, deliberately breaking every taboo given and blindly following those fads that incense the adult world the most.
Their licentious habits exhibit symptoms of attention starved souls. At no stage whatsoever should adults pretend being perfect or possess all the answers to their questions.
Yet it is imperative that the Government and all key decision makers in society assure the youths that they are ready to listen and consider their contribution with respect.
It must not be lost that youths do not live in vacuum and that society’s dilemmas, anxieties, and cries are concentrated in the most vulnerable group of society- the youth. It is in them that the effects of the short circuit in the cultural, economic, political and moral switchboard are severely felt.
When society condemns the youth, it must not be from a platform of self-righteousness myopia of a misplaced yearning for an age, now gone, when moral considerations were simpler.
A time when everything had its place.
Things are no longer that certain, they are decidedly more complex and the youth can easily see through our bravado and pretence of things being under control.
Failing to comprehend the forces at play and beleaguered by an inability to define an idiom that best described their experiences, the youth give in to the gargoyles of despair.
If the government and key decision makers in society value the youth’s future, then they need to address the effects of the cultural nuclear bomb brought about by technology that in turn has deluded the youth of direction.
In the face of the nuclear fall-out of Western induced sanctions which renders the economy immobile, the government and all concerned organisations need to find courage to resist the ensuing and actively search for a centre that can assist in the guiding and safeguarding of the youth into the port of tomorrow, safely and wisely.