Youth month and more specifically Youth Day is celebrated in our country every year on the 16th June, with festivals, music and dances, when political leaders then make speeches while the previous activists sulk on the sacrifices that the youth made during the struggle. This year was no exception.
The question however is if these festivities and nostalgic feeling is relevant. Isn’t it rather a time when clothes should be torn and to be on the dumpsite thinking about the failure of the past 20 years in education and creating work opportunities, and thinking about the atrocious manner in which the youths of this country is being pushed aside.
The shocking skills shortage in the country and unemployment amongst youths (36.1%) and their dented spirit that we read about in the media that is evidentiary segments of the broader image of youth marginalization and is very complex.
At this point in time an international research project is being done by researchers about South Africa and Scandinavia and is looking deeper into the marginalization of youths and the specific goal processes, including religious communities which is playing or is not being played.
The researchers are not only setting their goal purely on the policy documents or statistics about the occurrence and to pen it, but is to meet the youth in their present society environment and to interact directly with the youth about their experiences, dreams but also on the factors which are pushing them to the edge.
The facts will be on the table. But let us just look at where we are now after 20 years of democracy? It is important to firstly think about the Youth Day celebrations, which primarily is aimed at the youth to show their capacity and underline their potential. It is about school children, teenagers, who protested against that which were being forced upon them and considered as inappropriate and unjust on them at the time.
Youth currently still have this capacity and potential. They are indeed gifted. This is a friendly reminder to government and also encapsulates hope for the future.
Secondly it seems that the inequalities of society leads to the denting of the image of the youths, even after the ANC took over as ruling party, which still exists.
Logically they took over government at the time when youth marginalization was a painful fact.
Now very little has changed, as a matter of fact, for some the situation has worsened. It is therefore important for us to stop playing political games with the future of the youth, and seriously consider the prevailing situations in society that they have to cope with.
In the third instance it is evident that we should distance youth development from a political ‘tug of war’. Here it is all about our own children – and they are indeed out children.
This brings me to my last comment that is relevant to the role of religious societies. In the South African history the role of religious societies in the development of the youth is very evident, but also the danger of religion that is addictive and destructive. The prolonged situation about the Nigerian schoolchildren that are being held hostage by a terrorist group should make all of us sit up in Africa.
All faith traditions should be tested and questions asked if our religious population are being pushed to the brink and destruction, or if the people are getting a haven to be together to unleash their full potential.
It is therefore, no longer about the nostalgism of the past decade, irrespective of the fact that we must learn from the lesson. It is today however more important about the question: “What are we doing today to bring our children home? What are we doing to stop lies and ideologies so that we can create a new, inclusive soul, but then also a new healthy policy institution, that will trigger the youth to reach higher goals.”