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Opinions of Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Columnist: Eyiah, Joseph Kingsley

Bringing Adults, Young Adults and the Youth Together

Bringing Adults, Young Adults and the Youth Together for Community Development. ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’

By Joe Kingsley Eyiah, OCT, Brookview Middle School, Toronto

It is often said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. This saying applies to community development too. The community is broadly made up of adults, young adults, youth and children. For the community to see any substantial development, it is imperative for its members to collaborate their efforts in the most efficient manner to move the community forward.
Unfortunately, this collaboration is often missing in some, if not most Ghanaian communities around the world. The most challenging cancer holding us back is the negativity of “pull him down" attitude, enviousness, innuendos, tribal hatred among others. This negativity coupled with the dichotomy between adults on one side and young adults plus the youth on the other, especially in Ghanaian communities abroad, has over the years crippled the development of such communities. For example, it is obvious that Ghanaian communities in the two most populous cities of Canada (Toronto and Montreal) have had problems with bringing the adults and the youth together to move their communities forward. Even Ghana’s independence anniversary celebrations in those communities for some years now have become polarized between their adults and the youth. This is very unfortunate!
One could argue that Africans being the latest immigrants to Canada are facing the problem of adjustment. The raising of the African Youth in the apparent emergence of two (2) cultures has become an issue of major concern to the whole African community in Canada, especially in the city of Toronto. However, it is also an undeniable fact that many African/Ghanaian families in Canada are breaking down and children are being compelled to fight and struggle for their own survival. Family violence and divorce are on the increase among Ghanaian-Canadians. Emotional and “physical” abuse of children and spouses as well as neglect of children (especially, their educational needs) are becoming chronic problems in the community.
Also, it is unfortunate that there is very little or on support from the community to individuals, families and our youth. Though some Ghanaian community churches are trying to meet such needs in organizing family and youth programs/seminars their efforts have not been enough. All churches and cultural associations must pay the needed attention to collaborating with our youth for community development.
It could also be argued in some circles that our youth exploit the laws of Canada to their own detriment (e.g. leaving home early to depend on government welfare; lying about their parents to government authorities; and dropping out of school due to non-inclusive education system in Canada) and find themselves roaming the street eventually, most youth are pushed onto the street by the negligence of their parents and the community at large. The rich experiences of the adults and the exuberance of the youth could be harnessed for positive development in our communities. The issue of mistrust of the adults by the youth on one hand and the misunderstanding of the youth by the adults on the other must be resolved amicably for the sake of community development!
The Toronto Hope:
Since last year, the new Executives of the Ghanaian Canadian Association of Ontario (GCAO) in Toronto have been working hard with the Nananom (Chiefs) in the community, the Ghanaian Clergy Association of Toronto, cultural/ethnic associations in the Ghanaian community and the young adults/youth to move the Toronto Ghanaian community forward. The efforts have resulted in a united front in the proposed acquisition of a cultural cum resource centre for all Ghanaians living in the Greater Toronto Area.
It is particularly interesting to note here how the immediate past Consul General of Ghana in Toronto (Hon. Joseph Annim), the new Consul General (Hon. John Bosco) and the new High Commissioner to Canada (H.E. Dr. Gariba) have and are giving the needed support to moving the Ghanaian community in Toronto forward. Series of meetings and consultations have been held in the community with these honorable men present. Some decisive actions have already been initiated to make considerable impact on the dynamic vision for the Ghanaian community in Ontario, Canada. It is hoped that other Ghanaian communities which are yet to bring their members together for positive development would emulate the Toronto example.
We need to allow the youth to work with adults in active collaboration toward local community development. Integrating youth into committees with adults as mentors and guides is a positive way of bringing the adults and the youth together for community development. The youth are the strength and future of any community. For this reason young people should be partners with adults in decision making that affects their lives. Thus, community elders/leaders ought to include young people as partners in decision-making and focus on fully preparing the youth for the challenges of adulthood.