By Odimegwu Onwumere
I started thinking again recently of my youthful days after reading Forbes edition of July 20, 2016 in which a 28-Year-Old John Crestani was said to have read the bible and the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu scripture) for years to make money, but his turning-point came after reading a business book and today he makes thousands of dollars a day. In short, Forbes has it that as a result of Crestani’s never-give up spirit, he built an associate marketing network that at the moment brings $250,000 to $500,000 per month to his pocket and he travels the world.
While I was mesmerizing on the fortunes of Crestani, there were and are going to be more 4.7 million middle and high school students using a tobacco product, alcohol. The researchers from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had in 2011 heralded this rather ugly situation that has been befalling the youths. From east, west, north and south, many youths were not and some are becoming terrorists. But that was not at 21 when Crestani’s fortune came in 2009, when he fled Thailand after not being successful at college due to economic situation. Regrettably, many of us at that age hadn’t any other direction than to go to college or join trade or learn a skill or the other. We didn’t know and are not going to know that people were and are making millions of money on online businesses. In short, many of us had and have confusing direction of not knowing where to start from.
Crestani’s success at that age when most of us were and are still feeding from our parents pots of soup has made me to think of the youth I never was and many will not be. It is not that I was a loafer as a youth, but imagine where many of us were not married at 35, even at 40, due to economic challenges. Because of this, some persons have called the present youths a lost generation. But I beg to disagree on this, because Crestani and others from Nigeria never disappointed the 20th and 21st centuries. But before we go to Nigeria, we have Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, an American programmer, Internet entrepreneur, and philanthropist, born May 14, 1984, who together with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes launched Facebook from Harvard’s dormitory rooms and today, he is chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook with his net worth estimated to be US$51.2 billion, as of June 2016, ranking him as the 6th richest person in the world.
In Nigeria we have Orji Uzor Kalu – billionaire founder of Slok Group now 56 who was a millionaire at 19; there is Cosmos Maduka who was a street “akra” seller but now – founder of Coscharis Group (sole distributor of BMW vehicles in West Africa); we have Michael Collins Ifeanyi Enebeli Ajereh (aka Don Jazzy) – famous music producer and co-founder of defunct Mo’Hits Records, now CEO of Marvin Records, and many others. These persons made fortunes in their youthful days and many of us will not be the youths they were and are. The wealth many of us did not make yesterday is a great problem to us today and it is going to be a greater problem to youths of tomorrow who fail to make wealth today. Many a youth would hinge their failures on the two recessions hitting the world known as “the Great Recession and the Greater Recession”. But for ages, recession has not been aloof, yet many poor persons sent poverty on errand. We will continue to have such things as reduction in all goods and services, yet, many youths will spring up to be renown and many will not be. Many of us had thought and still think that youths with low education will not be successful in the attainment of incomes. However, just on Sep 23, 2011 there was the “Forbes 400: The Self-Made Billionaire Entrepreneurs Who Said No To College”. The number must have increased by now in the part of clime where the survey was conducted and around the world where survey is yet to be conducted on such.
Many of us as youths were and never and (are) going to be indoctrinated into joining radical groups and movements. We know the story behind the Hitler Youth, especially in Rhineland city of Bruehl, where in 1939, membership in Nazi youth groups was made mandatory “for all boys and girls between the ages of ten and eighteen.” According to a statement credited to Adolf Hitler in 1938, “These boys and girls enter our organizations at ten years of age, and often for the first time get a little fresh air; after four years of the Young Folk they go on to the Hitler Youth, where we have them for another four years . . . And even if they are still not complete National Socialists, they go to Labor Service and are smoothed out there for another six, seven months . . . And whatever class consciousness or social status might still be left . . . the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) will take care of that.”
Many of us didn’t grow, have grown and are going to grow obesity.
There were, are, never many anxious, depressed, anti-social youths. Many had, have never and are going to have these traits. On Monday 13 September 2004, I read an article by a Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian, saying, “Three-generation survey reveals sharp decline in teenage mental health.” We were meant to understand that “The mental health of teenagers has sharply declined in the last 25 years and the chances that 15-year-olds will have behavioural problems such as lying, stealing and being disobedient, have more than doubled.” These are some of the traits some of us had, never had and are going to have. The paper went forward, “The rate of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression has increased by 70% among adolescents, according to the biggest time trend study conducted in Britain.”
In my time as a youth, behavioural problems were not common, but today, the source said that between 1974, 1986 and 1999, behavioural problems have increased above the roof. “The deterioration of adolescents’ mental health in Britain is in contrast to the findings of research in the US which showed that a comparable decline tailed off in the 90s, while in Holland, there was no decline at all,” said the study. From Harriet Sergeant of Daily Mail, 19 September 2009, showed how “a generation of violent, illiterate young men are living outside the boundaries of civilised society… Thousands of teenage boys are failing to make the successful transition to manhood.”
I was meant to understand that many millions of youths had left, never left, are leaving and are going to leave school without gaining the basic qualifications of five good GCSEs. When the society cannot provide for these youths who have had no prerequisite qualifications to fend for themselves, they turn to crime. We are today seeing the uncountable number of crimes ongoing among the youths across the world. Governments, groups and individuals can only be putting up initiatives for early interventions in the lives of youths, but certainly, there will continue to be a John Crestani that many youths did become, are to become and will not become.
Odimegwu Onwumere is a Rivers State-Nigeria based poet, writer and consultant.