If there is one joy that is better than no other, it is that of having completed your studies and graduated. The satisfaction of having worked through years of study and finally bringing it to a great end with “graduation” is uncommon, yet very common and that’s what makes it even more special. You’re on top of the world, you’re on top of your game and you finally believe that you have made it. What could possibly top that?
Studies are such an important factor in life, and more so, in Africa. As an African, you are groomed to believe in the common goal of going to school, going to university and getting a job off the education you have striven to acquire. It’s a pretty well-known factor of your youth. The real problem begins when you graduate and somehow, the “getting a job” part doesn’t align as well as getting the qualification you worked for. This part is where your youthful dream falls out of place and you begin to question, at least, everything. In most instances, you have no back-up plan sitting around waiting to be used. It’s either this or that. As such, if one part doesn’t fall into the equation, the whole equation falls apart.
There is no greater pain than being an achiever in the means of education, and not achieving anything as a result of the said education. The plan is simple, get that degree, and then get that job! Is it really that hard? Well, yes actually, it is. The unemployment “syndrome” is suffered by many young Africans. In terms of rates in the world, thus far, Africa has the highest unemployment rate at 6.8%. (www.leadersofafrica.org/analysis/youth-unemployment-dilemma-in-africa-recent-data/.com). To a greater extent, the continent has a population of at least 60% being youths who stay unemployed for longer than imaginable. You’d say the youths play a large part in Africa’s economic growth, but a great number of these youths stay underemployed or unemployed altogether. How then would this help the economic growth of the continent? Further, to be more specific, in Zambia, we are suffering from the pestilences of unpaid internships. The idea stays exceedingly rigid, especially in the Government institutions, which are the very institutions you’d hope, would root for the youths and give them endless opportunities in order to raise the standards of the economy through fresh and new ideas from fresh minded graduates. Zambia being at 12.2 percent of an unemployment rate may seem minimal, but in reality, is a great number and has sparked a lot of anxiety and depression in the youth countrywide. I have no doubt the same kind of anxiety and depression runs through all the unemployed youths around Africa at large.
It’s not very often that the “world” goes on pause, literally, because of a pandemic. But history was made in the year 2019 when the world went on pause due to the Covid-19 virus spread. Being from an underdeveloped country, it was hard enough to make a living economically, but now we had to fight through a pandemic while surrounding countries closed their borders to each other, and countries further across the ocean closed their own borders to us too. The economy fluctuated because one important activity that had driven us for years was trade through imports and exports. People had to learn to fend for themselves within the limited means within the country, in order to stay safe and keep the virus from spreading at the same time. In an unadorned term, life became extremely grueling.
Life did not get any better; in fact, it simply got worse, even for the employed persons. Because of the fluctuating economy, salaries were either cut down to accommodate all the employed people, or they were either put out of a job to keep the organization or company afloat, or people were simply not hired entirely. Unemployment is bad enough, but imagine unemployment amidst a pandemic?
I cannot say for sure that we are past Covid-19 considering the new variant that is slowly flowing through the world yet again. But I can say there has been a lot to learn throughout the pandemic and I am sure that even you as an individual, have taken time to grow and learn from this unfortunate deplorable affair.
So here’s a takeaway for you;
No matter what the situation, unemployment, or global pandemics, time stops for no one. In these concerning times, pick a trade or a hobby that you can develop. The pandemic has been an unfortunate situation but it has also enlightened the world with a few positives. For example, people have learned that a business, a vision, and a movement can be executed through the internet. Take FemInstyle Africa, which has been started, developed, and is still developing during this atrocious time via the internet.
Unemployment will cause you a lot of stress and anxiety and depression, and if you feel you need help for it, get help. Your mental health should be more important to you than anything else. But besides facing that harsh part of your reality, take your time to develop yourself in more ways than not. Start growing and selling those crops if you can afford to, or start buying and selling those thrift items you believe would give you something to lean on as an income for the meantime, or if you cannot afford to start a simple business, start a movement that you are passionate about and convince people that your vision can bring a necessary change for you and your community. Because the truth of the matter is, staying occupied is way better than staying idle. Make yourself feel important regardless because staying that way will constantly remind you, that you can be something. Which I could reiterate for you, you are important and you can and will be something.
That has been my everyday takeaway from the Covid-19 pandemic. What has yours been?