Middle to upper-class African millennials have been exposed to unprecedented technological and social advancements. Much like the rest of the world. With exposure to that technology has come exposure to new ideas and modes of thoughts. As a result, more and more of us want to do something outside of what I call the unholy trifecta, ‘Law, medicine, and engineering‘.
These two academic fields represent an old trope in African society that almost all millennials know well; colloquially known as a limited bandwidth of choice available to the African millennial looking to the future for career prospects. Although this list is not exhaustive it highlights the only subjects or fields that the baby boomer generation is happy to let their children study or work in. I have had my own experience with it when I was somewhat coerced into getting a law degree:
I went to the University of Sussex in Brighton, the UK in 2015, more ignorant than I am now and for that, I am eternally grateful to the education process and the sheer invaluable experiences I was privy to. Unfortunately, I didn’t go to university fully appreciating the course I was getting into and flunked my first year. It was only after failing and consuming copious amounts of marijuana, had I realized that I wasn’t cut for out for law, much to the disappointment of my parents. I wanted to drop out and study something else, but I was greeted by threats to be sent back home to study whatever I wanted in an environment comfortable to express my creativity in. So, changing course to something I was more passionate about like music was a no-go, because I knew for all its flaws, the west could still provide a better educative experience in any of the creative fields I was interested in.
Which sucked, And there are countless other stories like mine if you just shut up and listen.
But what exactly pushed my parents and others to encourage their children to set their sights on a limited set of jobs? In the introduction, I talk about the middle class, maybe it is a middle-class thing. Just to carry on the practices which enabled certain groups in post-colonial societies to grab a seat at the table.
Why is this ‘unholy trifecta’, which represents any white-collar job taking attention away from other professional pursuits across the African continent for young millennials? Why is it when our dreams involve music or painting, anything other than the conventional, associations jump to a shaggy-headed drug taker? I suppose that there is a socio-historical reason why jobs involving formal work-places, regular hours of work and pay that brings neglect to fields which demand and require creative faculties and artistic ingenuity. What is it that led to this under-appreciation for artistic professions?
Why isn’t there as much emotional, financial and even governmental support to anyone that doesn’t want to study something about banking, the human body, or maritime case law? These questions along with others will be looked at in a subsequent article miniseries, where I will do an in-depth investigation into why there was (HISTORICALLY), an under-appreciation of creative sector professions.
These words are in no way supposed to insult anyone genuinely pursuing any of these professions or fields, but they should diagnose a serious condition in the African community which I do believe is being treated. This can be explained by looking back to two of my earlier articles where I discussed the importance of art and cultural appreciation by looking at several festivals and celebrations of art, music, and culture. The celebrations listed don’t even begin to cover the incredible amount of self-love and cultural appreciation going on in Afro-communities. In fact, it’s probably higher than it’s ever been, you just need to look at the articles on our platform to get an idea of it.
So, it can be said with some confidence that the dominant modes of thought are being dismissed. That the paradigm is changing. More and more Africans are deviating from the accepted path and treading wildly on unfamiliar ground and following their dreams with some, like myself, juggling it with a very challenging degree.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your dreams are invalid, or that you can’t be happy and successful doing what you love. I have the belief that it’s going to be the sculptors, film-makers, photographers, designers, producers, painters and singers at heart of that New-Age! [so you better get that new sample pack, big fella]
Our continent is changing and there will be room for you and your dreams whether they involve you hunched over a corpse or a canvas.
Feature Image By Thompson. S. Ekong.