For Africa’s millennial generation, the rules of engagement have changed

Millennials make up more than a third of Africa’s population. The impact they are having on politics and business across the continent is just beginning to be felt.


There is an incident that happened in my childhood that I would like to draw your attention to. It occurred such a long time ago that its details are now a contested truth. But even with this, the essence of the story remains ­lucid. One morning in the early 2000s, a huge smoke enveloped the village of Zikhovane, where I was born, and it remained like this right into midday. When it finally cleared, it revealed a clear blue sky and much of the vegetation had been burnt. The confusion quickly turned into shock.

A young boy who had been seen looking after his father’s goat in the veld where the fire broke out was caught and taken to the chief. The boy was not the arsonist, and he was in his fragile voice relentless in pleading his innocence. But no boy argues against the chief’s retinues, consisting mostly of old people convinced that only children are capable of mischief. It had to be him or another youth, or the fire was a result of another force. It later emerged that the boy did not set the plantation on fire but that an ageing woman, smoking her pipe, did not hold tight to a match and the wind blew it away.