Maimuna Mtengela is an Intern at Restless Development Tanzania and she leads the field implementation of our Iringa Young Reporters Network – part of our most successful project in Tanzania called MabintiTushikeHatamu! (Girls lets be leaders). In the second piece of a new fortnightly blog feature about Restless Development’s Big Conversation, she explains why young people would rather participate in The Big Conversation than the General Election in Tanzania.
“We will buy everything three days before election day, when election day come we will go early in the morning to vote and after that we will lock ourselves at home, this is for both of you”. That’s what my mother is telling us almost every time we talk about the 2015 Tanzanian General Election, which will be held this October.
While working with young people across Sub-Saharan Africa, I have noticed a common trend. Young people are commonly termed as beneficiaries: the recipients of information rather than generators of knowledge. Programmes are too often designed with an underlying assumption, young people lack information and external aid agencies need to save them by feeding it to them.
I guess these noble pursuits have been driven by the old adage: ‘Give a man a fish, feed him for a day but teach a man how to fish, feed him for life’. While this sounds intuitively correct, too often the ‘teachers’ do not understand that young people already know how to fish, in fact they understand the waters better than their so-called teachers. What they do often lack however is a pole, or the necessary tools and opportunities in order to fish for themselves.