By Alhassan Fouard Kanu
(FRSPH,MPH,MSc,MBA&DrPH Candidate)

As a Public Health Scholar-Practitioner, my articles/Op-Eds focus largely on health issues including tackling social determinants of health that make our people sick. This piece might be considered a bit different; but it has an element of “healthiness” in it. It is about preparing our youthful years for a brighter future, leading to better health outcomes of individuals and society.

The youths of mama Salone are always the first to feel let down or disappointed between one regime/government and the other. They will cry from roof tops when they consider a government is not providing the job they badly wanted. As they worked assiduously to replace one government with another, traditionally APC for SLPP or vice versa, the youths always remain unhappy and dissatisfied.

Often these youths pray that government changes. Their hope is that if government changes, everything will be okay. What is truism is that, no leader or a political party will remain forever. Whether that happens now or tomorrow or after 15 years from today, that is a constant. It will happen. So the departure of one government is not a question of if, but when.

It is my prayer however, that when that time comes though, you are the best Doctor, Engineer, Teacher, IT specialist, Businessman/woman, artist or scientist…or whatever…and that if the system starts working as you wish it to, you will be the person that society will offer the job or contract.

The reason I am sharing this is to remind us that while we may fully attribute all our problems to government, we have to also do some self-assessment and find out if we are fit for take-off, in case the opportunities we believe will exist, are availed. Are you sure, you will be among the best 100 applicants if 1500 people applied for a job? Are you tech-savvy? Do you know your field very well? Do you understand what is going on in your field? Have you upgraded your knowledge?

I know that many of you are entering or are already in the reproductive age. Have you thought about the fact whether it is SLPP- or APC-led government, it will be you to meet the needs of your spouse and children? Have you thought about how many children you want to have?

As we ask government to be prudent with resources, have we thought about how we are saving at a personal level? Do you have any savings? This does not require you to have a big income. You can even save 5% of all you get and still have something in your pocket.

In relationships, are you thinking before you engage in sexual activity? Do you know that a few minutes pleasure can turn around your life for worse? Are you aware that your parents will be the most hurt when you catch HIV? Do you think about how your behaviour will hurt all your family members?

If you are at University, do you ever remember where you come from? Before you decide to live a lavish lifestyle, do you understand what your parents go through to give you the life you are living? Before lectures…do you know how many kids missed a place and wish they were you? Have you learnt how your parents made their money? Apart from school knowledge, have you learnt from your family or parents anything hands-on that can help you survive and thrive in case you can’t find a job with your papers?

Let’s assume, government changes tomorrow, are you sure you would be the best candidate at an interview? Have you prepared enough? Do you have the best papers and skills?

Assuming this government will be here for the next 100 years, what is your plan B? Assuming things remain as bad as they are now, what are you going to do? How are you planning to start and raise a family?

As we ask government to be honest, are we honest with ourselves? Can we return money if someone gave us extra change? Can we do the right thing if we had an opportunity to do a wrong thing without anyone knowing or catching us?

In many places where I have been, I have seen a couple of things that left me wondering about our society. In other countries, young people are self-starters. They read, and are curious about knowledge. When was the last time you bought a newspaper of Le1,500 and read it? When was the last time you read a book out of search for knowledge and not because you are sitting an exam?

In your current workplace, family or community, are you known for anything or skill? Is there anything that all your peers celebrate about you? Is there anything for which you are the sharpest tool in the box amongst your peers?

Are you sure when government changes, your life will change?
We ask the government to care about us. But do you care about your own family? When was the last time you called your sister or brother to check on them, except when communicating important/official or unavoidable information? When was the last time you helped your parents to accomplish work? When was the last time you volunteered?

As surely as day follows night, a time is going to come and the government you do not like will be gone. Will that time find you healthy? Are you watching over your life? Do you drive or ride with care? Do you save?

I think that as a young person, you should start sharpening your skills, attitude and knowledge to be the best in your field. Use your youthful time and energy to learn, accumulate knowledge, read, research, volunteer, make good contacts, learn humility, start to care about others, and take good care of your body too.

I hope and pray that you reflect on the fact that, the day you are praying for will come, but unless you prepare for it, it will make you even more frustrated as others move up while you remain where you are.

Food for thought – for me and you. There are two people in this country. Those who are buying and those selling. What are you doing? Do you have anything to sell? A special product, skill, time? What are you selling?

As I end, please be reminded that opportunities dance with those already on the dance-floor. Take care, keep safe and upgrade yourself.

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