In 2008 when my friends and I started the Youth Development Alliance we were sure of what we wanted to do and to achieve. We were also aware of some of the challenges ahead and the opportunities therein. Knowing the gaps within the youth development sector we restricted our focus to mobilising resources and creating grass root opportunities for both youth participation and contributions; be it social, economic, and global.

With hard work, strong leadership, effective representation, and committed recognition YDA become an institutionalised force within the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis. No program went by without our contribution and participation. Its leadership rose within the ranks to become reliable activists; all within a 12month period.

Personally, I have participated in a number of reputable activities and taken active roles within. I read the communiqu? for the first ever Western Regional Youth Dialogue with the then Regional Minister and the team at the Regional Coordinating Council. I took part in the 2009 National Youth Camp where I met Dr. Sekou Nkrumah (then National Youth Coordinator) and his elegant wife for the very first time. I must confess, he is a fine gentleman and a man that easily finds his tempo in the midst of young people. I know he meant well but politics won?t let him be. Partly, I think he needs to be blamed for his misguided political approach and tactics. But that is not to take over this issue and so I will move. With his presence at the pitch Doctor gave prize money for the soccer competition which my team eventually won and we shared the money among ourselves. Thanks Doc. There again I was nominated and presented a profile of the Western Region under some difficult circumstances to an audience of almost a 1000.? I was also selected among camp panellists for a radio talk show program which was eventually called off.

The biggest perhaps was when I was nominated among four other youth who represented the Western Region at the 2009 National Youth Forum in Kumasi. There I met what I still refer to as Ghana?s most informed, entrepreneurial and brilliant young people. It is not surprising that many are making strides within the National Development Affairs. Talk of Hector Wolf and his Ghana Customer Service Advocacy. There again we adopted a constitution and a plan for the formation of a nationwide network of youth associations and organisations with the support of the UNFPA. Eventually, I had the privilege to chair the western regional taskforce with the sole mandate of forming and launching the regional branch of the network.

These should have spurred me on as there were so many opportunities and I was been given much exposure. But then I felt there was something wrong and my focus began to change. I wondered why young people should still be vulnerable and be more confronted even with all these efforts, meetings, adoptions, and formations.

Then I realised we are perhaps pursuing the old and making no difference. We are only been deceived into thinking that by setting up models of existing institutions such as the UN General Assembly, and Youth Parliaments, developing a diploma course in youth development work, working within Youth Advisory Panels and model think tanks, sleeping in luxurious hotels, taking photographs, travelling, conferencing, and issuing statements, that is youth development.

While thinking I was alone in this line of thought, I got my break when I chanced upon this post on facebook. ??Seriously let me just ask this one question. What is this Commonwealth Youth Programme, Africa all about? Does it include the welfare of youth in all parts of Africa? In Nigeria, about 20 individual job seekers (all youth) died last weekend and not a single statement from the “Commonwealth Youth of Africa”??? I believe it is not about traveling, organising programmes and sharing thoughts alone but about caring for one another too. I expect the leaders of thought in this organisation to add their voice. God bless Africa??

Not many have liked this post. After all it is not one of their usual photo and talk of meetings.

In one of my articles I made mention of how institutions of youth development particularly statutory ones have failed woefully. I made mention of how the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the National Youth Authority here in Ghana have both failed youthful existence and become useless. And instances as these make the case.

Young people in representative roles coupled with institutions of youth development need to break away from mediocrity. As young people in development and in service institutions there is no better way to measure our progress than in how young people have fared. It is in how stand up for the souls of these innocent job seekers. This is a shared opinion.

The writer Bernard Kwofie is a youth and a Ghanaian.?


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