Arit Okpo: Four wishes [NEW VOICES]

by Arit Okpo

 

I had started writing another piece…finished it actually, and then I realised that this would be my last piece before the New Year. Following that realisation was the realisation that I wanted to share my own version of New Year resolutions. Now we all know that resolutions last only as long as the holiday season, once we’re back to reality work, we suddenly see all the reasons why our wishes are impractical and why we should just stick to what we know best. HOWEVER, I am not willing to let go of that spirit of optimism that follows us into the New Year, so I’m converting my resolutions to wishes, not just for me, but for everyone who has ever dreamt about a future different from the one we’re living now.

I’m a young person living on this continent, and since I have no (immediate) plans to emigrate, it is in my best interests to create the country (and continent by extension) that I dream of. Every day that passes by sees me becoming more passionate about the continent I have been handed and since I can’t do this work by myself, I’m sharing my wishes to everyone (pretend they’re candy…or chicken…or whatever rocks your boat). Here’s hoping you catch one and find it singing a resonant note in your heart.

Ask Questions – In 2017, I wish that we all get into the habit of asking questions; especially asking our leaders questions. Yes we have hashtags and social media can make anything a trending issue before you can even ask “What was that?”, but it still is a truth that too many of us are accepting, swallowing and repeating the leadership lies that we have been told. Dudes, we need to stop.

Get Involved – We can insult politicians all we want, but we are still a young continent governed by old people. And might I add, the only continent where this divide is so glaring. How about we put down our smartphones (or at least open a new tab) and actually get involved in the political processes that govern our realities? There is no point complaining about the things that we cannot stand if we are not actively taking steps to change them. Join a political party – yes you might be a skivvy for much longer than you plan to be, yes you might come face to face with realities that make your previous ideologies look like nursery rhymes, but if you do not get involved with the processes that determine governance and policy, how on this not so green anymore earth are you going to see the changes that you want????

Engage Actively! – So, not everyone will join a political party…doesn’t mean the rest of you get a free pass. You can read up on bills and actions, you can write articles (ahem!), you can trend hashtags. There is always something you can do to play your part. Don’t assume that governance is only for the people who sit in “hallowed” halls either debating dispassionately or throwing furniture at one another. If you live in a country, my friend, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it is your responsibility to get involved in the things that affect you directly or indirectly.

Question – I know this one looks like a repeat of the first point but it isn’t really. Here, I want you to question yourself. The things you have always believed without knowing why – you know what I mean; who told you that people who weren’t from your country were responsible for stealing your jobs, or that everyone from the other religion was a thieving arsonist, or that everyone from that tribe was a crook? Why do you believe the things that you believe? Ask yourself questions, dig deep and uproot everything that no longer conforms to the reality that you live and walk in.

I’m passionate about governance. I’m passionate about young people. I’m passionate about young people taking ownership and leadership of governance. But no one will give it to us, we need to work, sweat, wriggle, struggle and fight for it. My wish for 2017 is that we all play our part in creating this change that we all write/tweet/dream about, but which none of us have seen.

Happy New Year to you all.

 


Arit is a highly versatile Content Producer, Presenter, Writer and Speaker. She currently produces and presents The Crunch, the flagship news show for the Ebonylife TV platform, where she discusses and analyses current affairs issues and stories. Arit has also presented travel show Destinations Africa; politics show Naija Politics and cooking show Chefrican, also on the Ebonylife TV platform. She is passionate about telling the African story from a positive and powerful perspective

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