The young people in South Africa
We come from different backgrounds. We hail from humble beginnings. The majority of us has for many years been victims of abject poverty. We have bad memories of the past due to horrendous suffering and unforgettable occurrences. So growing up wasn’t easy, and we all have stories to tell. The sacrifice of our parents, uncles, aunties, grannies and preceptors at school – during the period of our upbringing – has made us to be where we are today. They had a wish to see us receiving better education, something they could not have because of the prevailing circumstances at the time. They were deprived of many opportunities, the rights to be free, to belong to a party of their choice without intimidation, to cast a vote and have a say in parliamentary matters.
Our parents have played a momentous role in our lives - to see us flourishing, so we could one day be in a position to take this country forward. They have always stressed the importance of education, believing in us that we can take control of this land which has suffered the callousness of the oppressors for many, many years. By succeeding in our chosen careers, the expectation is not really to pay them back for every penny they have spent in our lives but to live independently on our own and be able to sustain our lives. The expectation is to be a person of note in the society, to provide a helping hand to the needy, to develop and uplift the lives of those living in destitute communities et cetera.
I know things may have gone awry for some of us. We never made it at high school. We became drop-outs thus adding to the plight of youth. The ones who managed to pass might have struggled to get financial backing, and that quandary tends to get your plans of furthering your studies abortive. This really becomes a predicament, a young person sitting at home when there is a scarcity of jobs and given the high levels of unemployment. One immediately wonders if the future of this country is really in the right hands. The repercussions of being young and unemployed due to illiteracy may lead one to partake in wrong things like criminal activities and so forth. This is our biggest downfall as the youth, sitting at home and doing nothing because we do not have the right qualifications or necessary skills to match the jobs on offer. We get deterred by the situation we find ourselves in. There are many people who have made it in life regardless of their educational status. We have many entrepreneurs in the township who started out from humble beginnings by selling ‘Ama kip kip’ and other things. Being illiterate or lacking financial backing to help with your studies shouldn’t make you succumb. Problems at home like parents fighting shouldn’t deject you from looking on the positive side. Social workers are there to assist or the teachers at school are part of your support system. Or even going to church helps a great deal to find solace.
We also have the ones who get accepted at Universities because of their hard work. They become a window of hope as their families and community where they hail from look up to them with a strong belief that one day they will plough back the knowledge gained over the years. A student life has its challenges. One needs to adjust accordingly to the new environment. The teacher who used to be a spoon feeder of information at high school is no longer there. The lecturers will tell you repeatedly of what it means to be a student that you need to behave like an adult. Self-studying and advance preparation in your academics is emphasised. Peer-pressure also becomes an issue. You are bound to make friendships, sometimes with bad friends who hang around just to bring you down. At this level; one needs to be vigilant of the surrounding crowd, one needs to differentiate the right from wrong. Being away from home means you are independent, you are on your won. Temptation is there, you can suddenly become a heavy drinker or a regular smoker - something you have never done in your entire life. You are bound to fall into bad habits. Good life is there too, entertainment is galore. The timing of night parties like ‘bashes’ tend to clash with the period of exams. So discipline becomes of vital importance if one is determined to flourish. On the positive side, there‘s quite a number of things available for personal development like partaking in debates, sports, poetry, et cetera. This really helps a lot in the long run.
The students who thrive in their respective fields and obtain the qualifications are now ready to sell their knowledge gained to the business world. Their CVs are sent through to a number of employers to consider them for work exposure. This becomes a problem because most companies do not have the time to train people. They mean business. They have to meet deadlines, so training people tends to impact on productivity and it is time-consuming. It is however unfair to the graduates as they have never worked before and expected to have work experience. But employers are more concerned about the business. It shouldn’t suffer. This is perhaps one of the problems which add to the plight of youth – having qualifications but struggling to find a job because you lack work experience.
Now let’s say you do find a job by way of internship or your academic results at varsity were so good that the employer decided to take a risk by giving you permanent appointment. You quickly adjust to the work environment and your performance is above par. All goes well for you. Because you have money, you can now buy material things. You can even buy a car and get a flat to rent. You can get a credit card ASAP because you are credit clear. The banks are willing to give you a loan even for a considerable amount due to your affordability. It’s all happening for you, the only debt you might have is your NSFAS loan otherwise everything works in your favour.
This is where our problem lies as young people, when we start working. A lot of things tend to go wrong at this juncture. We make terrible blunders that torment us forever, so one needs to be careful. Big decisions are made when one is in the right state of mind. Our backgrounds differ, some come from poverty-stricken families while others hail from ‘well-to-do’ families so we need to remember where we come from so we don’t become victims of life in the future. Yes, buying an expensive car could be self-fulfilling because it makes you happy. A credit card could be more convenient, making your life a little bit easier. And the bank loans do help us especially in the case of emergency. But it is advisable to refrain from these commitments in your early years of employment and prioritise on the important things like helping at home and maybe getting yourself a house so you can settle and plan around the future. It is better to have a bond house and drive a used car than paying rentals forever on someone’s flat and driving an expensive car. Currently, this is our biggest problem as young people. We are blindly falling in the same trap, and sadly to say that these mistakes are irreversible. Yes, some of the things are beyond our control like the influence and prevalence of Satanists who continue to use evil incantations over human beings. Further to our problem is alcohol and drug abuse, we always have the urge to drink almost every weekend. We become so addicted that we begin to have all these impure thoughts and ultimately lose the meaning of life and what we live for. If you look at the top echelons of government, we are hardly represented. If we do, those who represent us are exposed to corruption and so forth.
So to the young people, who still have a chance to live a better life, just remember this country belongs to you. The future of this country depends on you. The old people in our society are looking upon us to take this country forward. The platform is there; let’s use it for the betterment of our living conditions. The opportunities are plenty, so success is within reach. Right now we are being labelled as the youth of alcohol and drug abuse. They call us the youth of ‘short term pleasures’ because we are not driven by long term goals. If we do not change the way we do things, the struggle will never stop. If we do not change for the better, we will become spectators, watching and witnessing the signs of omnipotence emerging without having a say.
Written by Yandisa Sigwela
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