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Future demands creative people

Young people who start school today will have jobs that do not yet exist.

In Summary

• African youths under 25 can strengthen their creativity by participating in MASK Prize 2019.

The Creative Children of Africa
The Creative Children of Africa
Image: BRIAN BICHANG'A, 21

We live in the age when technology advances at a rate equivalent of the millennia of change compressed within a single lifespan. This opens new opportunity as well as new challenges. The growth of the economy can threaten the environment and social inequality. The rise of artificial intelligence can jeopardise jobs and freedom. The world stands at a special point of history.

In this world, young people are faced with a particular challenge. To adapt and succeed, they need to be highly creative. Creativity unlocks their intellectual capacity, positive personality, work ethics and social behaviour, entrepreneurship and leadership. Neglected creativity impedes their ability to adapt and solve problems and will lead the society to high unemployment, low productivity, greater poverty, and inadequate health and education systems.

Young people who start school today will have jobs that do not yet exist. The future will demand from them the ability to imagine new alternatives, not to take orders or blindly submit to authorities. To drive the impact of change, not to be alarmed by it or be constantly in a catch-up mode. It will need independent and open individuals who are future-focused, for creativity is always future-based. A confident generation that enjoys putting themselves against problems to build better worlds. Creative people are the only hope for the future. It is to them the succeeding civilisations will be in greater debt.

 

Given the breadth of current and future challenges, developing the creative mind must be a priority for the youth of today. The opportunity must be available to all young people, not only an elite group, while the rest are reduced to an inert non-creative mass. ‘Only when we overflow the nations with the first-state creative minds, we enjoy a golden age. When creative people are few and far between, nations descend into dark ages.’ We must cultivate the creative ‘gene’ to pass it on to the next generations. As future survival intensifies, creativity will be the key to human evolution.

What is creativity? When we ask this, what we really ask is how creative people think. How do they generate new ideas? They do it by connecting and combining ideas, memories and representations. They challenge conventions and ask ‘what can be?’ Einstein called this a 'combinatory play'. And, they make creative connections primarily with the help of their visual system. Creativity is visual thinking: individuals observe and select the visual information, form mental images and integrate them into future scenarios and ideas. Creative people think in images.

Creativity is synonymous with innovation, inventiveness, resourcefulness, genius, imagination, inspiration, novelty, originality and talent. Creativity is a skill. With commitment and a few tools it can be learned and built up. It is a hard, not soft, skill. The creative process has the same rules and principles in every endeavour of life and culture. It is not what a person just picks up on the way: no system, no structure, no rules. Creative thinking is a highly specialised ability that is acquired through methodical and disciplined practice.

If you are a young person under the age of 25 and live anywhere in Africa, strengthen your creativity by participating in the pan-African creativity competition MASK Prize 2019. The best examples of your inventiveness and innovation will be celebrated through prizes totalling Sh300,000, and exhibition at the MASK Prize Award Ceremony in Nairobi on October 17. Enter your works now for free online before June 1 on http://mobileartschoolinkenya.org/MASK-Prize/

Alla Tkachuk champions creativity education for young Africans. Sponsor MASK Prize, contact Alla on [email protected]