Sunday, March 15, 2009


On my way to school everyday, I see this very inspiring billboard sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Youth Development. It reads: Youths be creative. Believe in yourself. Self employment pays. “What a great way of motivating us” I said to myself the first day I saw it. As it seems, no longer will anyone be comfortable being a “Pity me” or “Hippo” generation. Should we all stick to become a Cheetah?

The “Pity me” generation refers to people who won’t lift a finger to help themselves, but rather lie in their own deficiency. They call out to whoever cares to listen and moan about how the world is unfair to them. They enjoy eating other people’s fish and have no interest in learning how to fish.

Similarly, the “Hippo” generation (sounds like hypocrites) blame others for the problems of the world instead of finding solutions. They drive development backward and only seek after their personal interest. They wait to be supervised before taking a move on anything; they have a very dependent nature.

But the emerging “Cheetah” generation is the risk taker, entrepreneurs and those crafting their own ingenious solutions to problems around them. They are the group Pastor Tunde Bakare so often refer to as the new breed without greed, the radical opposition to corruption. They have a heart to serve and understand what servitude in leadership means in all ramifications. They take action and do not wait until they are acted upon to come alive. This generation does not seek money or handouts, but rather preparation and opportunities to enable them achieve their goals.

In the book “African Unchained”, George Ayittey wrote “The Cheetah Generation is a new breed of Africans who brook no nonsense about corruption. They understand what accountability and democracy is. They are not going to wait for government to do things for them….”

The buzz about the Cheetah generation has been on for a while now, but I do not know why Ayittey coined up the term to describe this paradigm shift. The animal called Cheetah, spotted like the Leopard, belongs to the cat family and is most celebrated for being the fastest land animal, a natural sprinter (similar to this jet age?). However, it lacks climbing abilities; it is unadaptable to new environment and not breed-able in captivity. Despite these short comings the Cheetah has the ability to see long distances (in the human sense, visionary?).

I do not claim supreme knowledge for the above, what is disseminated is what I learn from observation (thanks to Ayittey’s book and of course my sister’s knowledge from whom I first heard about “the pity me” generation). Now, the ball is set in your court, what generation do you fall into? There is no option of sitting on the fence.

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