What do we do, Mr President?

2013-05-19 10:00

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Unemployed youth are finding it difficult to cling to the hope of 1994

The mood of April 27 1994 will remain etched in my memory for the rest of my life.

I still remember how the day served as a beacon of hope for the small town of Jeffreys Bay, where my mum was a school principal.

Having partly grown up in Afrikaner dominated towns, I directly experienced the negative effects of apartheid.

How could I not remember how, at the age of 8, a group of police officers raided my family house in Plettenberg Bay and left the house in a cloud of tear gas?

As a result, I grew up with only one vision: never to allow anyone to oppress me in any way again.

Freedom from any form of oppression remains my ultimate goal and it is a virtue I aspire to use to influence my sphere of contact.

Although I was not old enough to vote, April 27 1994 was a huge deal to my young self.

I remember the excitement that filled my home when Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first democratically elected president.

I knew things could only get better and my children would never have to experience what I went through.

At last, we were living in a free country, one filled with hope and freedom.

As I grew up and acquired additional knowledge and information about the history of apartheid and the liberation struggle, I started to appreciate fully what our struggle heroes and individuals, such as my mum, did to liberate the country from the chains of apartheid.

On graduating, I had no doubt in my mind that I was destined for the City of Gold. South Africa was full of hope and it would have been dim-witted of me not to seize the boundless opportunities provided by our democratic government.

In my young working life, I was fortunate enough to visit other countries and each time I came back, I’d be more convinced that I was a citizen of a great country.

I wanted to give back to the country that’s afforded me such enormous opportunities, especially freedom.

After few years in the private sector, I yearned to make a positive contribution in the public sector.

Even when my job applications were unsuccessful, I wasn’t discouraged. I guess I was in denial of the stark reality in front of me.

In the past five years or so, it’s become clear to me that I am living in a confusing country – one that provides very few answers and solutions to its people, especially the young.

I use the word ‘confusing’ because things haven’t always been so bleak for young South Africans.

Where did it all go wrong? We’re slowly losing hope in the government we pinned all our hopes on, and it is heartbreaking.

Could it be that we’re a bunch of impatient youngsters?

I’m confused, but sometimes 19?years feels like a decent period for our government to have convinced us.

I think we’ve been left even more desperate for change.

We are in no way blind to the number of positive changes government has implemented.

However, the good seems to be overshadowed by the bad (and the ugly): rampant reports of mismanagement of public funds, nepotism, corruption, lack of accountability and so much more.

Mr President, as young people of South Africa, we are disheartened by the way things have turned out.

As I write, myself and millions of young, qualified South Africans are unemployed and not only do we need solutions urgently, we need answers.

If our government cannot provide us with answers on simple yet important issues, what are the chances of creating enough jobs to curb youth unemployment in South Africa?

We need to know that we have a president and a government we can fully trust to provide us with a better life.

Things have to change.

I know our opinions probably do not matter and will not be taken seriously, but it would mean so much if they were.

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