If you are from Africa, I am sure you have watched the award-winning movie by Leleti Khumalo and Whoopi Goldberg; Sarafina! This movie talks about the apartheid regime in South Africa and all the events that took place to the release of Tata Nelson Mandela (May his soul rest in peace).
Fast forward to the part where the Soweto Uprising took place resulting in a large number of students dying from police brutality in 1976. The priest conducting the burial ceremony goes on to say, “They fear you because you are young, they fear you because you are the generation that will change the future…” Those words, those specific words dear Millennials are what I want to emphasize on today.
We, the Millennial Generation, some prefer to call us the Generation Y or the Net Generation are said to be the generation that directly follows Generation X. We are individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. The precise delineation varies from one source to another. Neil Howe and William Strauss, authors of the 1991 book Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, are often credited with coining the term. Howe and Strauss define the Millennial Cohort as consisting of individuals born between 1982 and 2004. You guessed it right, I am talking to you if not you then I am referring to “them”.
We have grown up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world. The industrial age has developed alongside us enabling connectivity and communication amongst others to be faster and more reliable at one click.
We are the generation that has been able to stir up revolutions online causing pressure to oppressive political regimes within our continent to address our needs and grievances. Our voice can no longer be ignored and the tomorrow that we were once promised already set dawn upon our faces.
This is the generation that is woke and seeks answers to the questions that disturb them. This can be seen with the recent activities in Zimbabwe that contributed to the resignation of Robert Mugabe not forgetting the online revolution that took place in Nigeria seeking answers to where their president, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, was at a time whereby he vacated office for some months causing him to provide answers to his citizens and fly back home from a medical leave he had taken to the United Kingdom.
While largely a positive trait, the Millennial generation’s confidence has been argued to spill over into the realms of entitlement and narcissism especially from the Silent Generation which was more conservative and couldn’t raise concerns on issues that mattered most to them. Nonetheless, dear Millennial, never give up your voice to fit the known, your voice has made a huge contribution to democracy, development and human rights. You are the generation that the world counts on to make it a better place.
To add to that, we are the generation that has received the most marketing attention. As the most ethnically diverse generation, Millennials tend to be tolerant of differences. We have been raised under the mantra “follow your dreams” and told we are special. Statistics according to Pew Research show that by the year 2025 Millennials will make up about 75% of the workforce taking into consideration that we have more exposure to the internet, education and we embrace diversity. This has forced Multi-National Cooperation’s (MNC’s) and businesses to have us in mind whilst creating their marketing strategies. A good example can be seen in Kenya with Safaricom; the largest telecommunications company in the country activating a network called BlAZE that speaks, empowers and delivers youth specific products and services to the youth. Banks are also catching up with this trend. For example, the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) has a skills development and job creation programme that seeks to catalyze employment and wealth creation among the youth with KCB 2jiajiri by the KCB Foundation.
Interesting enough, some will argue that in this generation the optimism levels are so high and unrealistic which leads to disillusionment and once one enters into adulthood they become disappointed. This is because they find themselves employed in unrelated fields or underemployed and job hopping more frequently than previous generations. Which I agree with but that’s the whole point of life, trying until you find your purpose. Moreover, our expectations may have resulted from the very encouraging, involved and almost ever-present group of parents that became known as helicopter parents who believed in our dreams.