01 February, 2007

The Young Need Role Models

Last night I was reading Dennis's interesting last post: Blogging a Blogger III in which he mentions today's youngsters; this got me into thinking and pondering about the young of today. Be it here in Yemen, or back in East Africa - present day youngsters seem very confused and at odds with their surroundings. Boys, more so. What with several TV channels being aired each moment; the kind of violent, noisy music that's popular with the young; life being as hard as it is in most of the developing world; and above all, the lack of real, inspiring events and role models - the young of today will continue being overwhelmed and confused.

Sure, during my time - we too were confused in some ways; and at times directionless. But we didn't live the kind of mechanical life that today's youngsters find themselves in; and at the break neck speed which their lives have to endure. What an astonishing speed? All I had to think about during my youth, was - school, play, eat and sleep. I compare that with what surrounds the young today: phones every where, silly soap operas all the time, rap music, the Internet, the enormous financial pressure and above all: the lack of great, inspiring events and role models like those of my time.

I had - Muhammad Ali, Pele, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Kipchoge Keino, John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Ali Mazrui, the Apollo space shuttles and moon landings; and much more - to greatly inspire me. There were wars, famines and all kinds of sufferings then; but not as much as apparent as today. Today's wars, famines, tsunamis, horrors and all the pain that goes around - is in minutes beamed across the globe. Many times: live. And today's young have to sponge all these. And at the same time, continue at the fast, mechanical speed they are now in. No wonder they are lost.

Still pondering: I then asked myself - if, suppose I was still young now, who would I look up at as role models? And I was surprised that, three of the same people who when I was growing - I had as role models and who are now old - would still inspire me: Muhammad Ali, Pele and Kip Keino. Imagine Mike Spinks, Maradona or George Bush as role models! And then there is the one and only: NELSON MANDELA! What a man! What a personality! I can not compare any person during my whole life time to the MAN. But while growing up and all through my youth, he was still on Robben island; shut out. Mandela, to me, as an inspiration, is incomparable to non. And there are others: the determined and relentless Wangari Mathai, the very brave Dora Akunyili (the Nigerian 'drug warrior'), the Oprah, the amazing Tiger Woods, the tenacious Richard Branson, the incredible Kyle Maynard (a congenital amputee) and Muhammad Yunus - the 2006 Nobel Peace Price winner (a man who makes profits while still immensely helping the very poor and needy).

These would have greatly inspired me. And even now: there are events that greatly inspire - especially in technological and medical developments; still, to me, non compares to the wonderful achievements done and made by Man during my youth. Whatever, the young need to take interest in, and read more on, what is relevant and worthy. But, do the young and the youth of today - even know of great events and great people? Do they have time to know them? I doubt.

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