By Rev. Fr. John Damian Adizie, OCD
Today is International Youth Day, a day of cele-bration for young people across the world. We are today, celebrating some of the contributions made by the young people towards the development of our society and the world at large.
Today is a day to encourage young people in their visions and aspir-ations in order to bring out the best in them. The the-me of this year’s Intern-ational Youth Day is “Safe Spaces for Youth.”
There is nothing more fu-lfilling and more liberating than space. If we give the young people space they will rule the world! We can-not exist without space. We need space where we can sleep, play, spread our clothes after laundry. Farmers need space whe-re they can plant their cr-ops. Even drivers need sp-ace to pack their vehicles. Above all, we need space where we can pray and exercise our freedom.
The garden of Eden is the safest space on earth. It is a space where man was allowed to exercise his freedom in order to bring out the best in him. After creating a space for Man the Lord said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea…” (Genesis 1: 28). If we want our young peo-ple to be fruitful then we must cr-eate a safe spa-ce for them.
Our young peo-ple need safe sp-ace where they can acquire the best of educat-ion. They need safe political space to ex-hibit their leadership skills. This space must be safe, affordable and available. Unfortunately, political space is no longer safe in a country where politic-ians are using security ag-encies to intimidate their fellow politicians, imagine a country where the DSS could lock up the National Assembly, the symbol of Democracy! People are in-timidated and even killed indiscriminately because of political power.
A political space is not affordable in a country wh-ere people play politics of money. Without huge am-ount of money one cannot context election. People’s votes are literally bought with money. By so doing, majority of youths are de-nied the political space. That is why power keeps rotating among the few rich politicians.
There is need for equal level space for all political players. Political space is not available in place whe-re the elderly are still occ-upying the space meant for young people.
Our young people need space where they can ex-ercise their freedom of ex-pression without any con-straint and intimidation.
They need to participate in decision making. They need space to showcase their gifts and talents. They need space where they can participate in sp-orts and other leisure.
We have so many talent-ed young players but un-fortunately only a few of them have the opportunity to showcase their talents.
As we provide a safe space for our young peo-ple, I wish all our youths happy International Youth Day!