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“Our voice is in our hands”
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“Our voice is in our hands”

emmanuel-olutokunThe internet and social media give youth an enormous opportunity to amplify their voices, writes Emmanuel Olutokun, 23, a Correspondent from Lagos in Nigeria, who looks at ways these remarkable tools have been used for positive change.

The youthful age offers so much opportunity, potential and prospects to build, learn, and explore. A period to create the future we desire and work towards accomplishing it. But as an adage ironically puts, ‘many use their youth age to make their old age miserable’.

There was a time in the history of mankind when we thought the only way to make our voices heard was through protesting, fighting and even shedding of blood. But with the disruptive intervention and explosion of the internet, this conception is fast eroding.

Our voice is gradually moving from our hands. With our internet enabled mobile phones, our voices can hardly be ignored. It is simple but effective. There are immense opportunities that we the youths have to hone and positively make use of.

Recently, there was a premature coup in Turkey, where some disgruntled individuals in the military decided to overthrow the present government. The coup would have been a success if major traditional means of communication – radio and television – had been taken over.  But another importance means of communication was underrated, and that was the voice of the people. People who had access to the internet in Turkey took to their social media platforms to hear from their president, express their displeasure and dissatisfaction with the ongoing coup, and re-affirm their support to their president. These raised the consciousness of the world to crisis in Turkey and in no time the attempted coup was crushed.

This essentially brings to fore how loud and how far our ‘hands’ can go if used positively and in the right manner. Social media creates a very suitable platform for youths to start an initiative, galvanize support and implement projects that are beneficial to the society.

One such tool is Twitter. This platform is 320 million people strong globally and has been seen as a community where matters of importance are being discussed by people whose voices might never have been heard if there was no internet.

Last week, a hashtag #SaveMayowa was trending on Twitter Nigeria, which was a call for financial support ror a Nigerian lady who was diagnosed with cancer and in need of immediate medical attention. The unity of Nigerians was reflected when people took empathising steps to ensure that the needs of the lady were met. A Gofundme account was set up for her whereby people could donate, and within three days, over 31 million naira was raised for her operation.

Change.org is another social tool whereby youths everywhere in the world can start campaigns, mobilise support from concerned fellows and also work with decision makers to drive solutions. Just starting a petition over an observed ill in your nation is now sure to be the first step to solving that ill. Amazingly, all these social platforms are free.

The truth is, there is never a better time to start than now. The change we desire to see in the world rests in our hands. Just start.

photo credit: Find your voice via photopin (license)

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About me: I am a brand enthusiast, writer and a passionate believer in the strength of the African youths as a change agent.

I am the 2014 award recipient of the ADVAN Future Leader in Marketing and a 2016 Ashoka ChangeMaker Scholar.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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