THE ROLE OF THE YOUTH OF SOUTH AFRICA
By: Zimasa Magudu
The role of the youth of South Africa is to educate itself and engage in activities and debates that will shape their future. This role though, is one that can only be taken up with sufficient motivation and support from individuals who see the youth beyond the labels that have been placed on them such as “lazy”, “ignorant”, “irresponsible” and plenty other terms.
Not so long ago South Africans took to the polls to cast their votes, hence having a voice and making it count but sadly not all the youth who qualified to vote exercised their democratic right, often hiding behind saying “it doesn’t matter, we know who is going to win anyway,” and not being short of other excuses too.
It may be an obvious point to make but it is worth making anyway- shortly before the elections, the ruling party as well as the leading opposition party hosted entertainment events for the youth in hopes of obtaining more votes from the young people. What good do events of that nature do in supporting the long standing argument by the elderly that young people are not very interested in the history of their country and making sure that history does not repeat itself?
The young people need examples to aspire to, motivation, inspiration and support from those who are saying “here is the torch; it is your turn to carry it forth”.
Would It have been out of context to rather host a sports tournament amongst the various political parties with young people participating in various sports codes as opposed to having beach parties and concerts where chances of these young people getting drunk and hurting each other are higher than if they were to use sports as a platform to come together and engage each other? It is important to note that not all “born-frees” nor all youth in general who attended the entertainment events also voted, and it is here where we need to look at the impact and effects of how the youth is viewed.
“Each generation starts off not from the beginning of the struggle, but from the footholds built for it by others, and with the experience and the inspiration bequeathed to it by others who have gone before. Steadily and painfully, each generation fights its way upwards, higher than the last, nearer to the goal.” These were the words spoken by Ruth First, a comrade who held the National Secretary position in the Young Communist League of South Africa.
The role of the youth is amongst other things to firstly understand and then tackle certain phenomena that are relevant in this current day and edge such as patriarchy, sexism, racism and all other ideas that do not have a place in the future that will be led by the youth of today.
The expectations placed on the youth need not be backward- society and especially the elder people need to understand that the struggles that we are faced with now will not be dealt with the same way that the youth of 1976 dealt with their struggles because the circumstances are now different and tactics have over time changed.
Lili Radloff put it well when she said, “Of course South Africa is not perfect. We have extreme social issues and many scars left over from the past. But what happened here was a miracle.” These are the words that not only the youth of South Africa should understand but the whole country in general
Young people need to be given a chance to express themselves in ways that they are passionate about- not everyone will write an open letter to the president if they have issues and not everyone will want to sit in parliament in order to raise issues but we are a youth that is diverse, adventurous, inquisitive, active, exploratory, full of ideas and with that being said, we are youth that needs our true potential to be seen across all spheres, not just politically.
Words, pictures, photographs, lyrics, sculptures and sports are but just a few examples of places to start if you want to see the world through the eyes of the young people and gain understanding of their role and struggles while also bearing in mind that the struggle that we deal with today has shifted its shape from that of the youth of the previous generation.