Every nation owes its youth several important human development elements two of which are Encouragement and Support.
When these two amongst other fundamentals are available, the youths perform wonderful feats, they continue to excel and most importantly continue to grow into that adult whom will one day provide the required mentorship for the generation coming behind them.
What happens when the requisite encouragement and support system is not available? The existence of the youth is threatened and their future becomes bleak. Their cohort inevitably becomes a stolen generation.
“To encourage someone is to help instill courage in them so that they can stand up and keep pressing forward.” ~Kevin Ngo~
When a particular country fails to provide an enabling environment, is it possible for an entirely different enabling society to provide the needed motivation and support for some prepared youths? Absolutely yes! This is exactly the situation with the first Nigerian winter Olympics bobsled team. Against all odds, an enabling society gave the young athletes the needed motivation and the necessary support. Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga through hard work, dedication and the support their country of residence turned out to be Nigeria’s first women’s bobsled team. The girls officially qualified for the games in November 2017. The Nigerian bobsled team members are all former topnotch college sprinters with dual Nigerian-American citizenship. Adigun and Onwumere attended Houston, while Omeoga went to Minnesota.
The question is ‘will these girls be motivated enough to assemble a bobsled team and qualify for the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games if they are resident in Nigeria? The answer is not far-fetched. Then the next question to be asked is: ‘what is the difference between the US environment and the Nigerian environment? The difference obviously includes Encouragement and Support among other fundamentals. Every young person deserves to be supported; every youth deserves to be motivated to live to her full potentials. There are so many talents that would have become one of the world’s greatest but were disabled by the society they call theirs.
“It is time for us all to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever – the one who recognizes the challenges and does something about it.” ~Vince Lombardi~
No doubt, the girls worked so hard. The truth remains that hard work in an enabling environment makes their journey to the Olympics easier. It is quite important that Nigeria and Africa as a Continent begin to create the required encouragement and support for her youth, otherwise, the future remains uncertain. The mentors of tomorrow will continue to act as perpetual mentees if the environment remains disabling.
The earlier we started, as a people to make our environment liveable the better. This is a task for every individual. In line with John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address to inspire the youth and adults on the importance of civic action and service, I say “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. I challenge you today to start contributing to the public good in your own little way. Of course, the government is not off the hook, every elected and appointed official needs to start living up to the oath of office that he swore to uphold no matter how inconvenient it may be.
I still believe in Nigeria, I believe in Africa, I believe in us.