The harsh reality just after National Service could be traumatic for the fresh graduate(Pulse Contributor's Opinion)

“And so Bright, your National Service ends this month, what are your plans after this?” asked one of my supervisors with a curiosity to find out what life immediately after service would offer me, pretty sure I would be briefly out of work for the next few months.

Stressed Graduate

Or, perhaps, if I had even found a place to work at all, and in what capacity my services would be. Inasmuch as deep down I strongly detested that familiar question – a question asked not just by friends of the family and your own inner circle, but also distant relatives you see once in five years - I was still propelled to answer. The rest of the conversation, they say, is history.

On many levels, my experience bears a striking resemblance to that of others, some even far worse. The array of such exhausting questions young national service personnel have to deal with in a country where opportunities are few and hard to come by. The constant reminder that you are on your own after serving the nation. The heavy burden you subconsciously battle with knowing fully well in advance you would be severely scorned at home if you keep on using electricity, water, eating that leftover food in the fridge, even taking up space, free of charge. It is ever thus.

The external pressure from your own parents and even a tiny fraction of your colleagues who are making a difference in society could sometimes weigh heavily on your mind, and could be dangerously traumatising and sap the life out of your being. As a fresh University graduate, you come to the realisation there’s an inherent hazard in your very existence after you’ve dutifully served your dear country. All the more so for helpless individuals whose parents they cannot work for, nor for whom no position in any firm has been readily made available.

And yet, in the middle of a pandemic, in a universe plagued by a deadly virus which has threatened to wipe out the entire human race, young graduates are still exposed to the mental torture of a cold world. Never at any one point in the laboured history of this country has finding a job been more of the strength of your connections than the degree you’ve clasped so masterfully in your palm. And for what?

Never mind the plenty of years spent within the four concrete walls of a school building, of several hours spent in cramming irrelevant mathematics formulas, of distressing courses one has had to painfully sit through which has little bearing on one’s way of life. Above all else, of the brave sacrifices made by parents to fully pay for tuition and accommodation. And all for what?

Granted, the government is incapable of solely resolving the country’s monumental unemployment crisis, not least in an era where Covid-19 has rapidly deflated the nation’s revenue but inflated its expenditure, and that these enduring predicaments will still remain and linger on. Yet, to look at the bigger picture is to see the wider truth.

That governments after governments, since the dawn of human history, have all failed to bring into being long-term policies aimed at tackling unemployment in a country whose population keeps on multiplying each passing year. Of course, the private sector could shoulder some of the burden, and entrepreneurship is another way. Still, it’s possible to see why fingers should be firmly pointed accusingly at the government. Often, as ever, it is more talks and no action.

And so the fresh University graduate is saddled with immeasurable expectations to go and survive out there in a cruel world of scant opportunities. The degree bagged is very good but matters only little in the grand scheme of things. The internships done are commendable but matters only little in the natural order of things (how does such individual survive when one of the job requirements is 5 years of experience?).

So, in all honesty, we can all agree that in many ways the system is rotten to its very core, to its very backbone? That to survive in the short-run would simply mean to ditch your hard-earned degree and learn a trade, perhaps create a YouTube channel, or perhaps for most young men to further take sports betting as seriously as ever?

On a cloudy Wednesday just last week, an amusing tweet made the rounds on Twitter. “National service will end very soon. The suit and tie you dey wear gidigidi all, house go humble you,” a netizen posted (KalyJay, founder of #FixThe Country, tweeted something similar, too).

In all the clever humour and relatable comments under that particular tweet lie an irrefutable truth: that the situation of life immediately after service for the average Ghanaian is one of emotional and psychological misery, of a crippling and heart-wrenching trauma, and the increasing belief that the system, by and large, doesn’t even remotely work. That you alone remain the author of your own destiny, your fate in your own hands. This is, after all, the fresh graduate’s overriding trauma, true horror, doomed reality.

Bright Antwi

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf


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