Ochaya is just a footballer from the slums of Banda, but even the more privileged who were told that they would get jobs if they went to university are very jobless.

Joseph Benson Ochaya is moving to Lusaka Dynamos where it is reported that he will pocket a cool Shs25m per month, while KCCA get a consideration of Shs432m. For KCCA that money is more than they get from StarTimes per year.

Of course, it is easy to dismiss these sums as peanuts, especially if we insist on using the bloated transfer markets in Europe as a yardstick.

And maybe given the various interests that clout such deals, neither will all this money fall into KCCA pockets, nor even be enough to meet all its budgetary requirements.

On the other, more personal hand however, Ochaya has just moved into the same income bracket as the directors of top parastatals. Not bad for a boy from Kireka-Banda.

And that is the thing about this transfer. To appreciate it we need to contextualise it alongside the realities that Ochaya is moving away from, rather than those we believe he should be getting into.

And the dark realities of the youth today, both footballers and non-footballers are those of massive underemployment, low pay, over qualification and poor working conditions. And that is if you find the job.

Ochaya is just a footballer from the slums of Banda, but even the more privileged who were told that they would get jobs if they went to university are working jobs with no relevance to their degrees. These stories are common and it doesn’t take a genius to see a link between the despair of today’s youth and a life of crime and other vices like drug-abuse and gambling.

But it is gambling, a pet subject and a recent but worrying development, that I wish to turn to
It is easy for us to tell the youth to forget gambling and get gainfully employed, and I will be the first to put up my hand as one of those people who have politicised gambling.

But the fact is that it has become normalized, by a combination of economic hardships and in your face advertising.

In such circumstances, one thousand shillings bet seems like cheap fun. But like many former boda-boda owners will confess, what starts as a harmless ‘why not?’ attitude soon becomes an exercise in futility as the frantic search for small money never catches up with hurting economic prospects.

The already vulnerable are more likely to become addicted and to further seek their fix in gambling, creating a vicious cycle of depression and anxiety.

So, the adverts may tell us gambling can be done responsibly, but if society wants to be responsible, it needs to create an environment that enable youth like Ochaya to rise from the bottom. It doesn’t insulate them from human weakness, but it gives them choice.

I guess what I am trying to say is; if we are fast running out of means to address the unemployment issue among our youth, why don’t we try investing in sport? I don’t see that we have done a lot of that recently or even ever.

banturakim@gmail.com
@MBanturaki