I heart Jozi: (No) power to the youth

2011-03-08 09:36

I meet amazing young people all the time in this city. Writers, academics, activists, business people – all with phenomenal dreams.

We meet at coffee shops while waiting for the third meeting of the day, at live music gigs ko kasi, at a friend’s brother’s dinner party you just happened to tag along to.

Mine is a vibrant city, alive with possibility.

But that’s the thing with possibility – it remains just that until someone gets up and does something about it.

And therein lies the problem.

South African youth are too complacent, nothing moves us enough to force us into action…or even just debate.

The president of the ANC Youth League urges young people to have as many babies as possible “to prevent the revolution from losing steam”.

He says reproducing is a revolutionary act. And we say … nothing.

After reading the article, I’m annoyed (to say the least), whip out my phone and tweet: “Babies don’t feed, educate, clothe and love themselves. How about urging young people to be responsible with the kids they already have, Julius?”

I’m angered by his downright irresponsible comments to young people who, at times, take his word as if it were the Gospel itself.

But not quite angry enough to write an email demanding the Youth League call their leader, my leader (apparently), to order.

Our education system is designed to produce a dumbed-down society that questions nothing. Funding for young entrepreneurs is yet another political game.

The African Youth Charter, designed to be a legally binding framework for governments to develop supportive policies and programmes for young people, is yet to be approved and implemented by our leaders.

The unemployment rate among the youth rises daily and my access to resources in the township is a far cry from what I get after taking two raggedy and un-roadworthy taxis into Sandton.

In small social circles we are angry. We host intellectual discussions about the state of youth politics in Melville wi-fi hotspots.

We tweet furiously…until someone retweets something Trevor Noah said that was really funny and before you know it, we’ve spent an hour talking about his last comedy set and are nowhere closer to speaking truth to the powers that be.

History teaches us that young people have always been at the forefront of change.

Thomas Sankara was only 33 years old when he seized power in Burkino Faso and launched the most ambitious social and economic reform plan Africa had seen.

He sought to make his country completely self-reliant and free of corruption and unemployment.

Egypt and Libya remain fresh illustrations of the power of a youth united for a cause. I just wish for once, we will stand up for a cause in this country.

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