Tuesday, March 13, 2012

An Inspiring Tale of Youth Empowerment

An Inspiring Tale
of Youth Empowerment

‘I shall always remember one particular Youth Day when I was at Decay Secondary School,’ said Kupela. ‘The headmaster announced that the Ministry wanted a girl from our school to read a speech to the president. He called for a debate amongst all the girls, and said that we could choose the best speaker. I really thought I could win!’
‘But you didn't,’ said Sara.
‘I lost out to a girl called Wandimi Shibili. She got the loudest applause.’
‘Was she really a good speaker?’
‘She had a very crafty strategy,’ said Kupela. ‘The day before the debate she went around the school asking everybody what they thought our problems were. The next day she told everybody what they had told her, and loudly demanded action from the government.’
‘Yes,’ said Sara impatiently, ‘but what did she actually say?’
‘Difficult to remember after all these years,’ laughed Kupela. ‘But it was quite simple really. She said that we youths were fed up with being blamed for being undisciplined and playful, which was the opposite of the truth. It was the government that had destroyed the schools, which had no books, and the teachers were either absent or drunk, or both. There were no jobs for us because the government has destroyed the economy with incompetence and theft. They had destroyed our manufacturing industry by removing import duty. There was no employment policy, and instead jobs were being given to foreigners.’
‘I suppose that went down well,’ I said.
‘How we all cheered! You go and tell them! We shouted. Wandimi for president!’
‘And did you join the march?’
‘The whole school joined the march!’ laughed Kupela. ‘We all wanted to hear Wandimi tell the president what we thought of him and his rotten government!’
‘And was the president shocked? Did they try to stop her? What happened?’
‘What happened,’ said Kupela sadly, ‘was that she walked to the microphone and said the opposite of what she had said to us. She said that we youth were too playful, but now we promised to work hard and follow the fine example of our dear president. We were so grateful to him for building more schools, and for the youth training schemes, and we would work hard to benefit from his generosity. We would now stop asking the government for help, but only ask how we could help our government.’
‘So she said the exact opposite!’ I exclaimed.
‘She had changed her strategy,’ Sara suggested.
‘Of course she hadn’t changed her strategy! She had used exactly the same strategy, which was to tell her listeners what they wanted to hear. So the day before her speech she visited the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sport, and asked him what the government wanted her to say. So he wrote down the main points on a piece of paper, and that was her speech.’
‘Half a minute,’ I said. ‘Most of her listeners were the youths, not the permanent secretary!’
‘She stopped caring about us,’ laughed Kupela, ‘as soon as we had done our job of voting her as our spokesperson.’
‘So what benefit did she get from her betrayal?’
‘She was given a bursary to go to Yunza. Nobody else in her class got into Yunza because their parents were too poor.’
‘Quite a smart cookie,’ I admitted. ‘And did she do well at Yunza?’
‘Extremely well,’ said Kupela. ‘She soon found a sugar daddy who installed her in a nice little flat in Kabulonga. So she had enough money to buy the exam papers in advance.’
‘She was cheating!’ exclaimed Sara.
‘The teaching in these places is so bad,’ Kupela explained, ‘that the only effective way to prepare for an exam is to get the paper in advance. So she got a good degree in medicine, specializing in geriatrics.’
‘So now at last she was in a position to do something for her country?’
‘Good gracious no,’ laughed Kupela, ‘she went off to California, and got a job there.’
‘I’m sure she’ll come back one day,’ said Sara, ‘and make an invaluable contribution to our health service.’
‘I don’t think so,’ laughed Kupela. ‘She hadn’t been in California six months before she married an 80 year-old multi-millionare who had made his money running brothels in Las Vegas.’
‘Why did he want to marry Wandimi? Was she very beautiful?’
‘No, face like the back of a bus. But she told him what he wanted to hear. She told him that she was a geriatric medical specialist, and that she could restore his health and vitality. She promised him that within 90 days he would be a young man again.’
‘And did it work?’
‘It did for her. Within 90 days he was dead, and she was a multi-millionaire.’
‘So what’s she doing now?’
‘Two years ago she bought herself a senate seat, and this year she’s contesting the Republican primaries and hoping to run against Obama in the coming presidential election.’
‘Still the same campaign strategy?’ wondered Sara.
‘Oh yes. The previous night she asks them what they want, and the next morning she tells them that she’s knows their problems, and she’ll solve everything.’
‘So by next year,’ I said, ‘she may be the first female Zambian president!’
‘But never in Zambia,’ sighed Sara.

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