Freedom is failing SA youth

2012-05-19 10:20

South African youth do not enjoy equal rights and opportunities, particularly in the townships and rural areas.

An indication of their frustration has manifested itself in alarming rates of crime, teenage pregnancy, high-risk sexual behaviour, substance abuse, gender violence, HIV/Aids, unemployment, low economic and civic participation, low Further Education and Training admission, skills deficiency, food insecurity and poverty.

It’s evident that the youth feel totally disregarded, under-valued and are without vocal representatives to ­convey their frustrations to the local, provincial and national government.

I have also become aware that the number of corporations within close proximity or based within marginalised communities are not being regulated and monitored by the local government to ensure that their corporate social investment funds are benefiting the youth.

It is sad to see that after 18 years of our democracy, a large ­segment of youth remains on the sidelines as spectators of development.

We must acknowledge the vile ­nature of the challenges facing young people today and not be oblivious to this obvious reality or choose to turn a blind eye.

Personally, the only time I feel like I’m in South Africa is when I am in a big city like Johannesburg where the atmosphere is saturated with opportunities.

And it isn’t baffling to see why young people flock to big cities armed only with premature prospects and a hope for a better life.

So, eventually when I make my exit from the economic hub that is Johannesburg, I realise how the grass on the other side is greener; what an intoxicating realisation it is, everything in a big city always seems so refined.

Meanwhile the rest of us are living beyond my illusion of South Africa – where the creeping reality of poverty has wrenched the optimism even from the most optimistic of hearts.

We ­silently pray that the government’s Batho Pele (People First) principle is a promise made and a promise kept even to the poorest of the poor.

Our belief as ordinary citizens is that our democracy must yield equal rights and opportunities for all regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, age, creed, city, province or political affiliation.

The youth development agenda is undermined at local government level and sooner or later some may realise that “economic freedom in our lifetime” might be a substanceless recital performed by an intoxicated fool.

We have reached a point in our ­democracy that will go down in history as a defining moment not only for the governing ANC but for our government and all those who call South ­Africa home.

We are sitting on a ticking time bomb if we continue to let our youth deteriorate on dusty street corners.

Lest our ANC government forget the words of struggle icon OR Tambo: “A nation that does not nurture its youth, does not deserve its future.”

» Faku is a youth from Klerksdorp in North West

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