Monday, 28 April 2014

Don't wait to be taught everything

From SEO, to programmer, techy to geek or the ordinary youth. The majority of them are self taught: you don't always have to be taught things. I am a trained mechanical Design Engineer but I do more than that not because I have a special gift but because I have embraced the reality that just like you I am not born with one talent or skill.

You have more potential than you realise. Challenge yourself and rise. You will never know who you are until you put yourself out there and try new things. When you realise that the Manchester City Football club manager Manuel Pellegrini is an engineer by training, it should arouse in you the sense that you are worth more than what you been taught. Yes, you were taught to do mathematics, or linguistics or dance but there is more to that. Many university graduates in Zimbabwe, wake up to the reality of joblessness then turn to teaching. Who taught them pedagogy? It's self taught or what others call adapting.

Learn to be an adapter. Learn to solve your problems without creating problems for others. Teach yourself to:
1. Challenge the status quo - don't be a disciple of the movement. Don't just follow the wind, walk in your own direction. When everyone is settling for the lower end and accepting whatever they are getting from their primitive lives, chart a new way forward. It's difficult but it's doable. We have examples throughout history of people that went against the tide. In Zimbabwe, Strive Masiyiwa challenged government in a 5 year long legal wrangle and today, he is the nation's clean billionaire. Malcom X stood against racial discrimination in America and though it took his life, his name stands in history. You too can change the status quo if you stand up to it.

2. Maintain an open mind - Shockingly, the majority of youths don't acknowledge their youthfulness. Youth means potential, agility and the ability to learn new things faster. You are have an ability that 50 year old company CEOs wish they still had. Maintain an open mind and learn as much as you can as fast as you can. Keep an alert mind and be ready to share and teach what you have. You can't change your life unless you are willing to learn how to and you can't change your community until you share with them what you have. You can only use what you have to move the world. Grasp every concept that comes your way and everything that's relevant to your life.

3. Try yourself in everything - Don't limit yourself. Don't let someone or your limitations stop you from trying. You have the right to try music, art, engineering, politics, religion, sport, etc. You can do it. Never mind the criticism. Michael Jackson was criticised, Oliver Mutukudzi has critics, you even made fun of your teacher in high school. As ordinary as you are right now, there are people critising you and making fun of your 'little' life. So why let them critize the 'little' you have when you can achieve more and make them talk about you for the rest of their lives.

You have the energy, zest and enthusiasm. Don't limit yourself. Why settle for less. Use the energy you have to change your community. 

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Search Engine Optimisation demystified

Some useful questions to ask an SEO include:
  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe? How do you measure your success?
  • What's your experience in my industry?
  • What's your experience in my country/city?
  • What's your experience developing international sites?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

You think the elders will do it for you?

I once did an article on what government needs to turn attention to.  The article was well received as they said it highlighted part of their concerns.  However, I am not the only Zimbabwean that has taken up the task of elucidating and articulating the problems of the youths and Zimbabweans at large.  Many have made efforts including academics, church groups, youth organizations, and concerned individuals.  My worry is the inaction and indifference.  

Government speaks of youth empowerment and has set up a Zimbabwe Youth Council tasked with championing the cause but the majority of youths remain marginalized.
Elders in our communities have maintained a sustained attack and abuse of youth rights. Despite government’s cap on school fees, the fees remain relatively high for the majority of parents who have suspended the kids’ education and incorporated them into their struggling businesses or trades for survival e.g. vending, gold panning, basket weaving, etc. just to make ends meet.  In the end, the youths are dropping out of school equipped with minimal education with their dreams for a better life shattered for good. 

Research and Advocacy Unit, RAU recently published a research article on early marriages, “Let Them Grow First: Early Marriage in Goromonzi, Zimbabwe.” In the article, RAU found out that most girls went into early marriages to escape poverty (by getting married to an aged pauper), and some to escape mistreatment at home.  RAU also highlighted that elders stick on oppressive religious and/or cultural practices that make the youth especially girls subjects to the elders with no room to question even important decisions that affect them for the rest of their lives.  In the event, the very elders who are supposed to guide and protect us (youths) have become the slave masters out to suppress and arrest our rights and freedoms.

Zimbabwe’s young view words like ‘youth’ and ‘empowerment’ with scorn.  No young person wants to be identified as a youth as the word carries political connotations.  The only youths who delight in the tag are the ZANU PF/MDC aligned young.  Youth have become disillusioned that being in the political youth wing means being used to carry out the most rogue acts for the elders.  The young understand the word ‘empowerment’ as referring to getting ‘left overs’ when the big wigs have taken as much as they want.  Youth Forum found out that of the $10 million CABS Kurera/Ukondla Youth Fund, latest statistics revealed that 2,388 youths benefitted after the disbursement of $3,594,920 for the period 2012-2013.  If a national program for a nation of more than 6million youths, only 2,388 benefit, it is a total failure.

Its mind boggling to realize that most supposed youth organizations are led by elderly people. The ZANU PF secretary for the youth in the politburo Absalom Sikhosana is 61 years old.  The youth minister Francis Nhema is 55.  The Zimbabwe Youth Council chairperson is appointed by the Minister after consultation with the President and in accordance with any directions, the President may give him.  The organization chair is therefore a proxy or puppet of government.  Instead of taking his stand in defense of the youth, the chair stands to defend government.  The chairperson is no different from the school prefect who derived authority from the principal and worked tirelessly to expose and demean his peers.  The ZYC is a mockery to the youth.

Government continues to arrest youth’s rights by arresting student youth leaders.  Police recently arrested 47 Bindura University students, on allegations that they held an illegal meeting.  As SRC elections approach in most tertiary institutions, the battle between the students’ movements ZINASU and a ZANU proxy ZICOSU turns ugly.  Government uses this time to arrest, torture and abuse the youth leaders in an effort to silence them.  This is despite calls on youth empowerment.  It turns out that the empowerment that government envisages is in sharp contrasts to the empowerment that we the youth want.  The elders want to create and sustain a youth empowerment model that makes zombies out of us.  Their so-called empowerment is a way for them to meddle into our affairs, scuttle our progress, and derail our movement towards real empowerment.

The recent ‘sacking’ of MDC-T secretary general of the youth assembly Promise Mkwananzi is evidence that the elders regardless of political affiliation, have no genuine interest in empowering the youth.  Instead, to the elders, a youth is only as good as his/her blind loyalty.  It is only the youth that pay blind allegiance to their leaders (Nelson Chamisa) that get to walk on the red carpet. 

In conclusion, I spell it out to you fellow comrades, that our elders will never sacrifice themselves for our sake.  They do what they do for themselves. It is time we move from being passive grumblers who agonizingly watch as our future is destroyed and transform into pro-active individuals and rebuild our communities based upon our values.  It is time we end the hero (Mugabe or Tsvangirai) worship and begin to see the heroes within ourselves.  As Bob Marley would put it, “None but ourselves can free our minds” or taking from Malcom X, “Do for thyself.”  

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