Nigeria’s GEN Z Dilemma: From negating a viable cultural identity amidst the chaos

Increasing adequate youth representation in Nigerian society and notably volatile political system will be an uphill battle, but we are up to the task!

The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 (73-90 years old)

Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 (54-72 years old)

Generation X: Born 1965-1980 (38-53 years old)

Millennials: Born 1981-1996 (22-37 years old)

Post-Millennials: Born 1997-Present (0-21 years old)

First off, I feel I must start off this think piece by virtually congratulating this generation of Nigerian youth for keeping the fire burning. A generation and slice of the population full of burning desire, unanswered questions, and a longing to create and showcase talents, ideas to the world.

The current buzzword among the Nigerian youth segment is MILLENIAL, yet we are forgetting a large chunk of us that grew up with the Plantation Boyz, Styl Plus, MP3 players, and Facebook are actually moving out of that youth space. Ideally, all eyes should be on the new emerging buyers’ market of Gen Z-ers. Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2001

We understand that with each generation comes a new set of rules, societal politics, ideologies and so much more. It is very difficult to have an unbiased conversation with a Baby Boomer about Gender politics, climate change, new industries that earn a living other than law, engineering and medicine, etc. One can say that most generations will go through the “No one understands us” phase, but we are at a very pivotal point in society where the ball CANNOT be dropped.

Unfortunately, this is the current state of Nigeria’s society, with most of the population being young, with 42.54% between the ages of 0–14, for both males and females, the median age of the country is actually 18.4 years of age. Nigeria indeed is a nation full of young, untapped potential.

In pre and post-colonial eras, young Nigerians led in the struggle for independence and emancipation. As early as 1944, Nnamdi Azikiwe, still in his 30s, founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroun (NCNC). Meanwhile, Obafemi Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa, Ahmadu Bello, and Samuel Akintola, amongst many others were in their 20s, 30s and rose to the limelight through their ideology and activism.

By 1999, Nigeria had adopted a multi-party democracy and there was the optimism of inclusivity from varied geographical locations, but was age ever a factor truly considered?

As apathy and disillusion grew, one can say so did the distractions. With the rise of platforms such as Big Brother Naija, new industries such as Smart Technology, and more; Nigerian youth have strived to carve out niches and —- where they can thrive and live like their peers with access to similar opportunities like western societies.

Globalization in regards to Nigerian youth often gets a bad wrap and is viewed as negative due to the alleged threats to Nigerian cultural identity, autonomy and integrity; (I personally find this ironic that these are the major concerns of a former colony and not progress and sustainability like our Asian counterparts).

Arguably, young people are more susceptible to these “threats” as they appear to have the access and hunger to want to experience more and BE more. The Big Brother Naija phenomenon was to the fascination of many and the distaste of most.

Commentary from Lagos lawmaker, Mr. Segun Olulade stated that “a programme of the calibre of Big Brother Naija was capable of causing distractions to the Nigerian youths and affecting many families”. So what is our current fascination with the platform?

What is a marginalized group’s attraction to a platform where their voices are heard and their votes count? A platform that may also serve as a fast-track to their dream careers? Like any group of people, there will be bad eggs; but do we blame the nest?

It is simple, the Nigerian youth simply want a safe haven to thrive. Gen Z saw the pitfalls of generations before them, from the environment to the economy. They have their opinions and takes on alternatives on how to experience this world. As global citizens, it is their right to let their voices be heard on what they want the future to look like.

Gen Z and beyond will inherit the earth. Many young Nigerians are well-aware of the tough challenges they face and opt to leave. For some, these hurdles are simply too many and too high and relocate to areas with enabling environments such as Canada or the UK. Yet we also have the fighters who have stayed and refusing to be stifled. Our passion can be felt in the music exported to the streets of New York, the art showcased in Paris galleries, the ideas presented at Silicon Valley, and more!

The fire still burns.  Young people have always embodied the zeitgeist of their societies, profoundly influencing trends and behavior alike. The importance of Millenials and Gen Z—the first generations of true digital natives—is now radiating outward, with the search for truth at the center of its characteristic behavior and patterns.

Technology has given young people an unprecedented degree of connectivity among themselves and with the rest of the wider world. This makes generational shifts more important and speeds up technological trends, idea generation, and ultimately change. For societies such as Nigeria, this shift will bring both challenges and equally attractive opportunities. The future is ours only if we are truly open to it.

Adebisi Faridah Adebiyi

Content Director

Adebisi Faridah Adebiyi a new media enthusiast and consultant based in Lagos, Nigeria. She has an undergraduate degree in Politics and History from Brunel University and postgraduate degree from Goldsmiths University of London in Critical and Creative Analysis. As a consultant Adebisi aims to put your brand and message first, providing media solutions that are sustainable and innovative. She is also the content director for Savvy Media Africa.

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