By Lerato Chiyangwa.

Nelson Mandela was an inspirational person. He wanted to improve the lives of everyone in Africa and, in my view, was one of the greatest men who walked the earth.

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire Bill Gates is known for improving the lives of people in Africa. He was the perfect person to deliver the annual Nelson Mandela Lecture that was held in Pretoria last week.

The issues addressed were something I felt I could expand  upon, seeing as I am part of the millennials who are striving to change the narrative of Africa. We all know that demographically Africa is the world’s youngest continent, and the population will double by 2050. This means that more precautions have to be taken into consideration, such as the use of energy that the continent is consuming.

The commencement of the lecture began with a quote from Nelson Mandela, which went a little something like this:

“We have traveled a long journey, we have fought for peace and reconciliation for social justice. For all men, women and children, to live together in harmony and with equal opportunity. These are ideas I still believe in, ideas that I still live for, but the time has come to fully hand over my work. Memory is a vital force in the lives of people and nations, and can help unite a divided society. In our view, the work of archives in the South Africa of today, is potentially one of the most critical contributions to restoration and reconciliation. All of us have a powerful moral obligation to the many voices and stories either marginalized or suppressed during the apartheid era. Today we are launching the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory Project, it will be run by the Nelson Mandela Foundation. We want it to be part of what we have called the processes of restoration and reconciliation. It is our hope, that from these small beginnings it will grow into a vibrant public resource, offering a range of services to South Africans and visitors from all parts of the world. We wanted to work closely with the many other institutions that make up the South African archival system, and, most importantly, we want it to dedicate itself to the recovery of memories and stories suppressed by power. That is the call of justice, the call that must be the projects most important shaping influence. The history of our country is characterized by too much forgetting. A forgetting which served the powerful and dispossessed of the weak. One of our challenges as we build and extend democracy is the need to ensure that our youth know where we come from, what we have done to break the shackles of oppression and how we have pursued the journey to freedom and dignity for all. For those of us who are older and have lived through the transition, from apartheid to democracy, the process of remembering offers us healing and a means of respecting the many comrades who made it possible. This is what archives are about, this is what we want the Center of Memory Project to be about. We will be grateful for any assistance in helping us to achieve this objective. I thank you.”

Hearing these profound words and facts in Mandela’s voice took me back to a time when it felt great to be alive; not only did he make South Africans believe in ourselves, but the whole of Africa, and what we were capable of doing if we united as a people, despite color, race or age. With all the current events taking place worldwide it is us, the young people, who must take action for our future.  The youth are powerful right now, we are the “source of the special dynamism”, to quote Bill Gates during his lecture. The youth of the African continent are the future and nothing is impossible if we truly put our minds to it. Education is something we should invest in; not only the systematic ways, but education through innovation of all sorts. This is how to engage today’s youth. This will be the foundation for the future.

There are so many youths who have ideas to share with the continent and the world, and this requires economic opportunities which should be awarded to the youth, to allow them to flourish.  I believe that if we, the youth of Africa, unite, with all our different perspectives, views, beliefs and ideas –we will make something amazing of our continent.