This is the speech I recommend for this years's Youth Day:
We are gathered here today to commemorate youth day. The 16th of June 1976 highlighted the pivotal role of youth in the fight against oppression. High school pupils took to the streets, detonating a national uprising of unprecedented proportions. That uprising wrested the strategic initiative from the racist regime and set in motion an uncontainable drive to freedom. The ’76 generation injected the energy of youthful rebellion into the ranks of MK and helped reconstitute the trade union movement and later gave leadership to the Mass Democratic Movement. The youth of 1976 showed that the future of a country depends on the determination of its youth. In fact, the youth have always been the driving force for our freedom.
Ø The first gathering in Mangaung on January 8 1912 was initiated by young leaders – the generation of Pixley ka Isaka Seme, George Montsioa and the Msimang brothers. That inaugural meeting brought together two generations of African political leaders, but it was the vision of these younger people that drove the movement.
Ø The youth of Nelson Mandela’s time believed that the non-violent campaign waged by the ANC mother body was not yielding any fruits and any promised changes to their lifestyle and that the ‘traditional’ methods employed by the mother body was taking too long. In 1944, at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre the young fire charged Nelson Mandela jumped to the stage without any prior planning and pronounced -Freedom in Our Life Times: What we Want What we Believe we Demand.
Ø After the reverses of the mid-60s rendered underground movement inoperative, it was mostly young people in MK who agitated for a strategy to prosecute the struggle more effectively. The 1969 Morogoro conference was the outcome.
Ø Inside the country students at a number of tertiary institutions gave birth to the Black Consciousness Movement which kept alive the spirit of resistance and struggle in an environment of conspicuous white prosperity sustained by state repression during the late 1960s and mobilised crucial sectors of the oppressed into political activity.
History has vindicated the policies pursued by these successive generations of young people and we shall also be vindicated when economic freedom in our life time is realised.
On trial for his life in 1964, Nelson Mandela said: “The most important political document ever adopted by the ANC is the Freedom Charter”. The freedom charter calls for redistribution of land; it provides for nationalisation of mines, banks, and monopoly industry, because big monopolies are owned by one race only, and without such nationalisation racial domination would be perpetuated despite the spread of political power. The realisation of the Freedom Charter would open up fresh fields for a prosperous African population of all classes, including the middle class.”
Today after 18 years of freedom, our country’s wealth remains largely in white hands. Successive reports of private sector under-achievement in employment equity indicate that the acquisition of political rights has not translated into the redistribution of economic power. Apartheid land-ownership patterns also remain unchanged. Economic Empowerment has not led to the promotion of entrepreneurship. It has unfolded as the acquisition of equity in existing corporate structures, leaving the character and control of the economy largely unchanged. The question is- what would we, the youth of today, do about our challenges?
After 18 years of political freedom we are still miles away from the aspirations of the freedom charter and there is a growing impatience with the pace of transformation which mandates the youth of today to make the loudest cry for economic freedom in our lifetime. Just like the Youth of Mandela’s time, we are preaching a “revolutionary war” and therefore our language is bound to be fire charged and revolutionary, demanding economic freedom in our lifetime.
Those who find our pronouncement provocative and feel threatened by our militant posture should know that they have no future in the leadership of this country. The struggle for economic freedom requires the same degree of mass mobilisation achieved in the past to overcome the legacy of apartheid
Such mass mobilisation requires the revitalisation of all freedom loving formations to once again become the tribunes of the people, offering leadership and actively engaging in the search for political solutions not stifling debate through antagonistic tactics that are alien to the culture and spirit of our movement