Can a Confucius lesson help African youth help Africa?

Maha is currently studying in Tianjin, China.


By Maha Jouni

Tianjin, China - December 11, 2018 (IMC):- As overall Chinese influence around Africa grows day by day, the Sino-Africa relationship is becoming a two-way street mainly on the social front. For example, more and more Africans - especially youth - are flocking into China for education, work, trainings and cultural exchanges. Nevertheless, China is obviously on the receiving end of more economic benefits.  

Against this background, one may wonder whether Africa, particularly its youth, can learn from the key pillar of the governing philosophies of China - the Confucius way. So, I asked myself what lessons could actually be taken from this great Chinese philosopher’s masterpiece the - “Analects”?

African youth have been traumatized by many kinds of horrors including the evils of colonialism, civil war, terrorism, crimes, tribal conflicts, poverty, urban violence and the list goes on. Add to that, being subjects to successive dictatorial regimes. In Tunisia, where I am from, the  84 years old current president, Beji Caid Essebsi, thinks he is the best representative for Tunisian youth. Whenever he talks, he pretends that him and his generation have the key to Tunisians’ problems. In Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari, born in 1942, called Nigerian youth lazy and uneducated.

I believe that it is not only Buhari and Essebsi who see youth as uneducated and irresponsible segment of their society who need to be directed by elders. This may explain why youth are still marginalized from political positions.

Several meetings, debates, studies  and forums have been conducted so far  in order to find out strategy to empower youth and use them for the African growth but to this day the rate of  unemployment of youth is 50 percent among graduates, according to the African Center for Economic Transformation.

The main message I hope to pass on through this article is, therefore, we Africans can learn from other high performer countries such as China. If we have a look at Chinese history, we can easily understand that China had a youth dominated demographic dividend, much like the current case in Africa.  But China has followed the philosophy of Confucius to make its young population a very powerful arm to stop internal wars, crimes, pessimism and to rise up to the Chinese dream where people live in harmony and affluence with social justice and peace being the pillars of Chinese nation, its colors, pride and beauty.

Confucius (551-479 BCE), was a thinker, political figure, educator, and founder of the Ru School of Chinese thought. His teachings, preserved in the Lunyuor Analects, form the foundation of much of subsequent Chinese speculation on the education and conduct of the ideal man called Junzi, how such an individual should live his life and interact with others, and the forms of society and government in which he should participate.

According to Chinese historians, Junzi has many characteristics. Prominent among them are courage, creativity, patience, kindness and respect to elders. Junzi incarnates the ideal man who does more and speaks less. A Junzi is also loyal, obedient and knowledgeable. He can discipline himself. Among these, humanism and loving others as you love yourself is the core of becoming Junzi. In order for the principle of Junzi to be assimilated in Chinese people, the nation has integrated and implemented Junzi’s theory in their educational system. This makes a difference in Chinese social and economic development. Being a good human being is a target of every Chinese now a days; in school, university and local communities.  Chinese youth are learning that being good is the real wealth.

African youth under 25, which account for 60 percent of the total African population and constitute 19 percent of the global youth population, can be both an asset and a liability. I believe, if we learn from Chinese philosophy, we can realize the African dream, we can make peace and change Africa into a real paradise where freedom, peace and wealth can be harvested.


Be Junzi

Stand up for Africa and see the potential of ourselves!

By way of conclusion, here are some related quotes that would help boost such a spirit.

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” 

“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” 

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."

“The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home.”

“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

"A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake."

“You cannot open a book without learning something.”


“Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”


“To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness.”


Maha Jouini is Pan-African writer and thinker from Tunisia. She is also author several short stories. Maha is currently studying at Tianjin University of Education and Technology. She can be reached through

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