Guest Column

Dear matriculant - study hard, your country needs you

2017-10-24 13:18

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Mcebo Freedom Dlamini 

"We are the ones we have been waiting for" – June Jordan

Never before in the post-1994 milieu has this quote ever rang truer than right now. 

The #FeesMustFall moment was the most catalytic moment in how young people demonstrated their power and ability to stand up for what they believe in. 

Through this moment young people both in and out of university were able to bring very important conversations to the fore and into the public domain. They were able to get the entire nation to speak about what it means to be black in South Africa post-1994. 

It is in this demonstration of bravery by the youth that I want to wish matriculants who have just started writing their final exams strength and clarity. 

To be in matric as a young black person has many implications. The most immediate one is that it means you have the possibility of breaking the generational chains of oppression that run in our families. 

To be in matric presents us with the opportunity to also inspire and change the communities that we come from. It is a known fact that a majority of black youth in South Africa come from families ravaged by poverty, drug use and crime. These ills are of course as a result of our brutal history of apartheid. It is the youth that has a duty to change this narrative. 

Young people have an important role to play in how we shape the societies we come from for the better. This is because throughout history the youth has always been instrumental in driving change.

The 1976 generation is an example of how school students influenced the politics of the entire nation. Fast-forward 40 years to 2016 and we again had school pupils fighting against racial policies and university students demanding free education. 

I mention these moments to highlight and illustrate the potential that young people have to change our society. In all these moments they were able to find a way in situations that were otherwise deemed hopeless. Where other people could not have thought that there was way, young people were able to create one. 

What does being part of such a long tradition of brave young people mean for matriculants in 2017? It means that you are standing on the shoulders of other giants. It means that it is possible to make it because those who have come before you have made it. 

It means that there are no excuses. To achieve success one must work extremely hard. We are not oblivious to all the stumbling blocks that exist but there are those who have also faced them and overcame them. 

It is through education that you can assist the country, reclaim its pride and take over from those who have continuously oppressed us. Where we come from and where we currently are must at all times be the biggest motivation for where we want to go. 

Good luck to all students who are about to write matric exams. We look up to you to illuminate our hopes and dreams as a nation. 

- Dlamini is a former Wits SRC President and student activist. He writes in his personal capacity.

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Read more on:    matric exams  |  student protests  |  feesmustfall  |  matric 2017

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