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Nkosinathi Mokoena
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In the days of our youth

22 April 2012, 15:46

The book penned by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities  opens with a line that is full of contradictions that reads as “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

Every time when I hear about the agonising stories of the poor South African youth, I wonder aloud why are we still taking a back seat in the issues that affects young people. Stories like half of the unemployed are youth, the majority of the graduates are still unemployed and the rate at which drug and other substance abuse is so rife amongst these people. Personally, I am quite a conversationalist and many a times I find myself sparking debates on subjects that makes those I converse with uncomfortable. The advantage of doing so is that you get different views from different people and you end up with a through understanding of wide variety of subject matters.

I refer you back to the opening paragraph of this article? Which kind of times are South African youth living in? (is it worse or best of times?). The theme of that opening line by Charles Dickens in his book “A Tale of Two Cities” is TIME. Time is of the essence here, and perhaps what we need to explore is whether South African government is delivering for its people. Do the moral compass of those charged with governance in the cabinet care about the well being of ordinary South Africans in general and of youth in particular?

What would happen if the youth of South Africa start being characterized by the following qualitiesThink|Dream|Lead?

Leading and ruling in the days of our youth must be the most interesting activity to do. I mean the youth of this country are very chilled, apathetic about the developmental issues concerning them and they seem not to challenge the status quo. Very few young people participate in diplomacy issues and social enterprises to name but two. They never seem to complain. The question I am pondering on in this post is “have the youth of the country thrown a towel or are they just apathetic?”

The wealth of knowledge and intellect that is lost in the street is astounding because of rising unemployment rate especially amongst young graduates. The elephant in  the room here is unemployment and as soon as many young people realise that, it will be the start of something that would be historical. Are we immune to protest against the government? Are we scared? I do not doubt even for a moment that the day the youth of this country realise that they are being taken for a ride by the government of the day ‘mark my words’ we will witness a very huge protests.

Moeletsi Mbeki, the author of Architect of Poverty: Why Africa’s capitalism needs changing, is promoting the idea that argues that South Africa is facing the possibility of greater social upheaval due to high levels of youth unemployment. In fact, according to Statistics South Africa, 72% of the unemployed are between the ages of 15-34 years old. I tend to agree with the Predictions made by Mr. Mbeki owing the fact that – spatially speaking – poorer communities are dominated by service delivery protests this days that usually ends in horrible fatalities and some of the local councillors perish as a result.

It very possible, for what is being predicted by leading social analyst that the Arab-Spring type of activity might emerge in South Africa. Will it be difficult to organised such a protest? I do not think so considering the fact that coordinating protest in poorer communities is an everyday phenomena and this can further be enhanced by technological advancement such as smart phones and social networks.

In my humble self, I honestly think that we are sitting on a ticking tine bomb with a ring of fire in the vicinity.

To those young men and women who have done their duty and still remain unemployed, I say “Dream a whole lot louder”. A lot louder in a sense that you should use your intellectual rigour to engage with any power that might be to challenge the status quo!!

By Dumisani Mahlangu

follow him on twitter @dumirocks

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