Hard-work and Opportunity must run concurrently

Odongo Odoyo

By Gilo Jr. Okwata

The recent victory of Oballa Oman Oballa, the first black young man to win a council seat in the city of Austin, USA reminds me of the old adage that ‘patience, persistence and hard-work pays. Oballa has had an enduring journey to this celebrated achievement.  He was born in South Sudan, went to Ethiopia at young age with his family, back to Native country during the Anyuak Gambella region and travelled to USA using his Ethiopian adopted nationality as looking for a better living and opportunities abroad.

He first made his mark when he was elected as the president of the student’s senate at his college and helped pass state legislations to address food insecurity on community college campus. At 29 years, he deservedly won praises and tributes from across East Africa because his victory is a reminiscence of the 2008 Obama’s march to White House. It is a validity of the symbolic slogan “yes we can” which gives hope and aspirations to young men and women in Africa that through determination, hard work and focus, anything is possible. He is the epitome of a heroic triumph from the dust and shackles of despair, impoverishment, from one refugee camp to another by demonstrating to the world of today that he is good enough when faced with insurmountable challenges that stare down his eyes.

Thank to America vibrant democratic system, Oballa is able to make his trademark in politics. As son of Brigadier in South Sudan Organized Forces (Wildlife Service), it would almost be impossible if not completely inconceivable in his native country. There are many Oballa in this country who can emulate such a great achievement if only they are given space and opportunity to exercise their constitutional and democratic rights.

What would he be doing if he were in Africa today? I believe he would be loitering around with the so called lazy guys taking all kinds of drugs. He would be called different kind of bad names designed only for our youth. Maybe he would be playing cards in the corners of the rusted iron sheet building in shanty areas.

His victory matters much to this generation of millennial who feel they deserve to be treated like an egg, people who probably don’t want to get dirty, they want to be pampered, who want quick fixes and who want things easy done and easily obtained. It also matters most to our political dinosaurs, who since Addis Agreement of 1972, have been holding on to power as ministers, parliamentarians or still holding high positions in the government which are supposed to be handed to next generation.  These politicians have forgotten that the schools they attended at their tender ages were still when they left for politics and that the following generations joined those learning institutions too which required them to be employed in order run for office after the graduations.

Why are you accusing youth of being lazy and good for nothing when the entire generation who served in during Ibrahim Abud, Sadig Al Mahdi’s,  Nimieri’s and Bashir’s governments are still hanging on to the positions leading to little or no opportunities at all to the youth in this country?  We have inherent system that favors and caters only for the people at 50 plus years of age but not younger than 40. As technological advances catch us up, let give opportunity young people who have energy, fresh blood, creativity and know-how to lead. If Oballa can do it, so can we, given the accessibility of political structures and institutions enshrined in the constitution.    

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