Kwame couldn’t cope with the pressure that surrounded him. Being the first of four children, his parents had sent him to the University with the hope that after graduating he would be able to cater for the needs of his siblings. However, three years after his graduation, Kwame had not gotten a job. In his pursuit for “the better life”, his friends introduced him to the drug business and for the first time in his adult life, his mother’s offensive words and complaints faded into thin air. Those years were as honey dripping from the honeycomb. However, misfortune befell him during his seventh attempt of smuggling drugs to Mexico as he was caught and kept behind bars.
The above is the reality thousands of youths in Africa face after graduating from tertiary institutions. To confirm this, the World Bank has it that youths account for 60% of all of Africa’s jobless individuals. In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate is 25% but is even greater in Botswana, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, and South Africa, among others. With over 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the largest population of young people in the world.” This statistic increases yearly as new graduates are added to the mix. This scenario makes them vulnerable to people who prey on them by offering enticing prospects which are ploys to use them as sex slaves, human trafficking and other vices. A World Bank survey in 2011 revealed that about 40% of those who join rebel movements say they were driven by lack of jobs. This can be linked to the increase in the number of terror groups and crisis on the African continent. Joblessness has negatively affected the mental wellbeing of individuals that they look for avenues to unleash violence on others.
In a working society, the law is intended to protect individuals and is no respecter of persons but the reverse is the case in most African societies. Selective legal process is seen as norm; people are deprived of fair trials while some are favored as a result of their socio-economic standard in the society. Security operatives are not exempted from this process of selective bias. It is not unusual to see a connivance between the wealthy and security operatives to perpetuate injustice against those at the lower end of the spectrum reminding us all of Orwell’s animal farm where ‘All animals are equal but some more equal than others.’ It therefore becomes an uphill task maintaining a good mental health condition in such a climate.
It is disheartening to know that racism exists within the same race. This has obviously gone beyond the notion of the act being a result of differences in skin complexion. It is traumatizing seeing people of similar race being victimized due to difference in ideologies and religious affiliations. This negates the Ubuntu ideology which we as Africans are supposed to hold dear.
There has been an alarming increase in the rate of depression and suicide cases recorded on the African continent. Globally, the United Nations report that approximately 800,000 suicide deaths are seen yearly and this translate to one death every 40 seconds. This is despite the low level of suicide documentation especially on the African continent. With 79% of cases happening in low and middle income countries, Africans need to feel concerned. The high rate of unemployment, broken homes, domestic violence has also contributed significantly to the high prevalence of depression and health practitioners report a significant rise in cases of clinical depression among young people.
We live in troubling times as Africans as we have a lot of mentally unstable individuals roaming our streets. Chaos in our cities makes one ask,’ In a continent where various issues as this exists, how do we achieve inner peace and tranquility?’ Everywhere you look, it appears we are at war but with who? Ourselves? Is there still a silver lining? Do we wait for the sun to rise once again or should we just sit aloof and watch? Where else do we find refuge, when it is not secured at home and we’re not accepted abroad?
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