I opened a joke book at random after a long time the other day and read the very appropriate quip: “We have enough youth – how about a fountain of smart?”
It was very appropriate because I had just turned to reading jokes to lighten my mood after reflecting on a brief but telling argument I had had with some youths.
The genesis was a photograph somebody tweeted, of four young Ugandans seated at a bus stop over a caption that suggested that they were unemployed and had no option but to start the day out early pondering what to do. Because each of the youths in the photo had ear phones plugged into their ears and presumably mobile phones at the other end, I was a little less sympathetic and said:
“With those phones? They should sell them and do agriculture. Send some to me. #unemployed”
You see, the week before, I had resumed work on a small agricultural project that kept getting frustrated by chaps who started out begging for work but eventually developed a complacency that made them incapable of even growing their own food for sustenance.
If there were some fellows sitting helpless at bus stops, and I had land sitting helpless and untilled, then the calculation was obvious.
As happens quickly these days, someone responded within minutes…
“ok now your joking right…which agriculture, which land, which money (from phones?) Be…”
We have learnt, on Social Media, to ignore irritating sentence construction and punctuation, so I let those aspects pass, but then somebody else launched in with:
“Doing Agric isn’t rewarding anymore. E.g, are you informed that a bunch of Antoine goes for just 2000 in the villages?”
The ‘Antoine’ must have been a typing error, but I considered that these fellows should have taken that information to conduct some trade by finding market for whatever Antoine is and making a neat profit off it
But they went on:
These submissions came from the twitter handle @UnemployedUG, and flabbergasted me. I have a separate set of thoughts about how the youth are generally supposed to be highly intelligent and useful, and I will share that when appropriate; remember these thoughts when I do.
I waded through social media tidbits to establish why this person (these people) believed they needed one acre, and why that acre would require so much money, but my search was as fruitless as their apparent thought processes.
“Why start with a one-acre farm? #inexplicable” I asked, and followed up in some irritation: “stop whining and start thinking.” Irritation because everywhere I look these days I find characters claiming to be youth needing help, and otherwise sensible people falling over themselves to accommodate them. It’s called mollycoddling, the way these so-called youths are given political attention in this country, and they are lapping it up like cats with mincemeat.
The ‘start thinking’ part was to get them to really think. Doing agriculture does not mean one must “start with” one acre. Every week the newspapers do a special pullout on agriculture that by now some of these youths should have come across.
Not the unemployed ones on Twitter, though.
“We’ve gone past that whinning phase. We; @UnemployedUG are thinking, thinking realistically not theoretically.” they wrote back. Then added, in response to my query about the one acre: “I used an acre because it’s a standard unit of land. Otherwise, you too know that 25m isn’t enough to even buy that piece of land.”
In danger of harming my forehead due to excessive frowning, I continued the discussion with, “again, think harder. It depends where you want to buy land.”
They explained their 25million-a-shilling-acre location preference thus: “Any serious entrepreneur would only establish where market can be accessed. There, land & other factors of prodn are that expensive.”
Thinking realistically, of course.
The discussion elsewhere, meanwhile, had some other youths agitating for jobs.
So I wrote, “Again: Send me some #unemployed youths please?”, and one @2017AfterM7 responded with, “address please…I have 10 if them.” (ignore the grammar).
One @BrianAtuheire joined in with, “how many do you need and which professions I have many tell me by Monday they will be on your office door.”
And I responded hopefully with, “IT, Agriculture & Comms. Send as many as poss. Only the competent will be employed if they pass.” and added, “Even if you have 1,000 I will only employ the competent ones.”.
One @doreen_twine also joined in to ask if she could come along, and @UnemployedUG piped up with, “How about the DM? We would like to meet and discuss it further with you?”
But one tweep, @Henriexxx, who seemed to know these pals quite well, said in exasperation: “and take this NO where…!”
She was correct.
Monday came and went.
None of them emailed me. None of them sent me a Direct Message. None of them sent me an SMS or WhatsApp. They didn’t even remember enough to tweet about it on the day.
Either they found jobs for their people and the unemployment problem was solved, or it’s no wonder those youths are unemployed, what with the way they operate.
And I am still recruiting, but only competent, serious people.