OpEd, Politics

I can’t wait to become an old to teach other old men

I’m longing to become an old man, but it seems impossible. But all I have to believe in is Nelson Mandela’s quote that “It seems impossible until it is done”. My getting old seems impossible, but it will surely come. The saddest part of my longing to become old is that, by the time I get old, the old men I wanted to teach shall have died a long time ago. I want to become old today so that I teach the old men of today.

One time, after I found a group of old men discussing how they would destroy youth, I thought of white-dyeing my hair, taking a walking stick, and forge a stooping walk to join them. Amidst them, I would tell them “NO”, do not destroy youth, but build them. I would proceed as, giving youth a conducive and enough space to define who they are, what they are, what role to play as an energetic group, and above all, how best they can design the future. But unfortunately, I had no qualifications to join the old men.

When the colonialists had wanted to colonize Africa, they sat down in Berlin and divided Africa into what they best called “protectorates”. When they came to Africa, it became easy for them to colonize her. This is what the old men did. The old men sat down and divided the youth into “Good Boys and Bad Boys”. Good Boys are those youth who can do donkey work for old men and get little or no pay. In fact, they are those who can be exploited in the name of being good boys.

They can praise the old men 24/7, and they can fight the enemies of old men even if the price to pay is their own lives. When all the ways fail and the only resort is to go to the bush, Good Boys take up arms, follow their Godfathers and fight tooth and nail so that the government calls, signs peace and allocates positions to their Godfathers. When their Godfathers get positions in the government, they replace the old Good Boys with the new Good Boys.

Bad Boys are those who tell the old men that you are wrong to exploit another human being to fight for your interest. In fact, bad boys are a mirror for the old men. They do not hide to tell the old men that a portion of vegetable is between their teeth when a portion of vegetable is exactly between their teeth. Bad Boys are squeezed into a corner by the old men and Good Boys. South Sudan says it has fought the longest war in Africa, but the war between Bad Boys and Good Boys in collaboration with old men is going to be much longer than that.

I wish I had gotten old today. I have no access to old men. They have already branded me a “Chief Bad Boy”. Whatever I tell them sounds like an insult. Even if I tell them ‘God bless you’, they can say I’m cursing them. To whoever has an uncle, including me, remember your uncle’s days are numbered, but your days are still more. Do not accept being used by your uncle as a whip for lashing his enemies or as a robot to fight for his interest.

You may be killed today while fighting for your uncle in the bush and tomorrow morning, your uncle may be called by the ancestors to serve in the hell. What have both of you done here? There are a lot of negative practices we need to tell our uncles to refrain from. The world has fallen in love with the word “opposite”. Instead of the old people teaching young people, it is young people teaching the old ones.

The author is a medical student, University of Juba.

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