BY SAPIEN SAPIEN
Drug and substance abuse has emerged as a potent threat to the African child, most specifically in Zimbabwe. As the continent celebrated the Day of the African Child on June 16, a lot of “what ifs” still linger on the lips of the African youth, many years after decolonisation.
The African child in Zimbabwe is exposed to a hybrid of cultures, a mixture of values and an amalgamation of foreign ideas that has made him/her foreign in his/her own country.
The generation of youths who gallantly confronted the racially-driven colonial system were driven by the need to attain Independence. Hector Peterson was callously murdered by apartheid agents for resisting the temptation to recognise racial bigotry whilst gallant sons and daughters were brutally murdered by Rhodesian troops in numerous refugee centres dotted around the region as they fought for independence.
That generation of youths is different from Generation-Z, a generation that is being lost to the murky world of illegal dealings, sex trade and indulgence in drugs such as crystal meth. The problem, or rather, the issue, has pervasive implications towards national growth, development and security.
Our youths, out of desperation, peer pressure and deliberate ignorance, are at the end becoming addicts of bad conduct, addicts of drug abuse and addicts of everything malicious. This reality is what separates them from the generation of yesteryear.
Those gallant warriors valued their ubuntu and all it represented. They did not even attempt to appear to be foreign in their own country. They were alert enough to know and understand what really mattered in life. Definitely, drug abuse is an asymmetric threat that must be confronted.
We, at this point in time, as we celebrate this year’s version of the Day of the African Child, stand akimbo and pretend that everything is OK. No it is not. The law enforcement approach being used to attempt to nip the nefarious conduct in the bud is not enough. The law of demand and supply must be looked at. For as long as there is demand, supply is guaranteed. We need to rethink the way we attend to this menacing threat before we lose an entire generation.
Sorting out socio-economic vices that are structural and deep seated is not an event but a process. Hard and fast approaches must be utilised whilst an urgent declaration that we are in a crisis be made.
That declaration will compel authorities to deploy resources aggressively towards confronting vices that are eating and chirping our future away. We have lost entire generations of youths to migration and globalisation.
We must not allow ourselves to lose the present generation to deliberate acts of omission. We have to confront our demons. This confrontation must be as aggressive as is reasonably possible.
The life of each and every single Zimbabwean youth is of immense importance to the posterity of the country. Our future depends upon these souls.
Some countries are recognising this truth and have decided to come up with entire systems that guarantee that our tomorrow is secured today. We are watching in awe, clapping hands in disbelief whilst allowing prescription medicines to be abused by our youths with impunity. These youths are being radicalised into becoming incorrigible members of the society by substance abuse. Crime rate is on the rise while unwanted pregnancies are now a “fashion statement”
A multi-sectoral approach towards curing this madness is exactly what is needed. It is needed now before it is too late. Let us unite to face this monster together as one. The invisible monster knows neither race nor political affiliation.
As we recognise the Day of the African Child, we must recognise the nascent risk being faced by the youth of today.
Sapien is a trade and security analyst.