Watching a documentary on the migrations of different animals the other day I learnt that it takes four generations of butterflies to reach their final migration destination. It made me think about each generation that forms part of that journey. The first three relay their way to their destination, knowing that they will never see the Promised Land. The last generation arrives though only on the wings and work of those before them. They then enjoy the freedoms slaved for by their predecessors.
It immediately induced thoughts regarding the role of my generation in our Promised Land and the ones who laid down their lives for us to be here. Generations have relayed my peers to what we call our Promised Land, but yet, this land has not yielded all that was promised. Mine is the generation which has been the freest of them all. We have been free to speak, free to move and free to learn. Many of us, draped in model C school uniforms, crowned with bursaries and now groomed as graduates from university step into the land we were promised we would rule, realising it falls short of our imagined kingdoms. We now long to sit on the thrones of office desks. We are the most educated generation that world has ever seen, and we want the jobs and the money to match it. Right now.
It makes me question: Were we sold a dream or have we been dreaming? Have we been realistic in our expectations? What came to spark this line of questioning is latest catch phrase by the ANCYL: “Economic Freedom in our life time”. Setting aside the fact that we don’t really have a viable blue print to economic freedom, are we realistic to expect it in our life time? Can we really hope to solve 400 years of deprivation and yearning for redemption in 20, 30 or even 40 years?
President Jacob Zuma’s absence at the Youth Day Rally in KwaZekele in order to attend the G20 summit in Mexico was symbolic at best. We tend to forget that our Promised Land is situated within a very demanding Global Village. The world is chaotic, almost anarchic beyond our borders. Youth unemployment is not just a South African, but a global epidemic. In the most recent United Nations report entitled Global Employment Trends for Youth their labour agency states that youth unemployment increased from 100 000 per annum, to 4.5 million jobless youth per year.
We ask where it all went wrong. Our parents drive Toyotas in the hopes that with enough sacrifice on their part, we will be the ones who get to own a Lexus. These are our expectations. We are living in times when power and efficiency are called upon by more promises of secular success and power. As the middle class we squirm and squeal about Skothane tendencies, yet on weekend nights we dine and drink away money that could send a child to school for a year or even feed a family for a month. We need to be flashy and fabulous as heirs and revel in our milk and honey, not custard. We need to be leaders and we are summoned to be the best. All the glory is meant to be ours right? Perhaps this is the problem.
We need to consider that maybe we are not the fourth generation of the butterfly, that we have not arrived and perhaps it won’t be us that will. If you look hard enough you will realise that this is not the land we were promised, and that maybe we weren’t promised at all. Perhaps, instead of constant calls for the youth to rise up, we need to get down and build on the foundation that has been laid by those before us. We need to relay the next generation on its way to freedom. That way, our kids or maybe our grandchildren will experience true freedom in their lifetime because of the work we did in ours.
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