#YouthDay: 'Youth day is not about drugs' – Mandla Maswanganyi

2016-06-18 12:51
Mandla Maswanganyi (Supplied to News24)

Mandla Maswanganyi (Supplied to News24)

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#YouthDay  Forty years ago, high school learners from all over Soweto decided to march against Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. But today young people face different struggles.

When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts are we the youth heading in the right direction?

Youth nowadays face many different struggles, the struggles that I will be talking about in detail are peer pressure, drug abuse, gangsterism, teenage pregnancy, poverty and HIV/Aids. I will also be talking about the interest of the youth in education, politics, religious activities and criminal activities.

Peer pressure is the pressure that a person gets from his/her friends. Youth nowadays encourage one another to do wrong things that put their lives in danger, unlike the youth of 1976 that encouraged each other to march for better education. The majority of the young people who start smoking/drugs and get arrested is because of peer pressure.

Young people have the fear of being different from everyone and want to be part of a group (usually bad groups).

Drug abuse is the over-use of drugs (dagga, nyaope etc); this is a major struggle for the youth because they see it as a new way to be cool. They enter into drugs so that they can look like everyone, not be discriminated or looked down on. Some when they train surf, they need drugs so that they don’t have fear of death.

Gangsterism and teenage pregnancy

Gangsterism is an act or behaviour of a gangster. High crime rate is found in the youth, because of gangsterism eg Cape Town. Young people think that they are not safe unless of they are part of a gang. They end up killing, stealing and raping as to show commitment to the gang. Many fall deeply into drugs as a way to make them forget about their wrongdoings.

Teenage pregnancy is pregnancy that happens in teenagers. This has become common in that youth are no longer surprised to see a young person pregnant. Some find sugar daddies to get money and get pregnant in the process. Many drop out because they can't handle the responsibility of being a mother and a learner at the same time. And many die leaving their children without parents because of HIV/Aids.

Poverty is a lack of basic services. After 21 years of democracy many young people still find them selves living in informal settlements without electricity etc. They end up losing hope that through education they can make it, but find a way to come out of the situation, some by leaving school and stealing or selling drugs. After matric young people want to find employment instead of going to university.

HIV/Aids is a non-curable virus/syndrome. Over the years people who are HIV positive have grown rapidly especially in the youth. South Africa is ranked number one in the world for having the highest number of HIV infections.

It has become so high that sometimes ARVs are no longer easily accessible in clinics. The government has made contraceptives for boys and girls possible in many public places but few are using them. Young promising pupils die because of this virus by having unprotected sex.

Don't value education

The first interest is education, the youth of today don’t value education, because they don’t attend classes and disrespect their teachers, and disrupt school for no reason. If Afrikaans was to come back the youth of today would not march against this. They would not even notice anything. They drop out of school as if it is a fashion.

Young people are no longer interested in politics, but what they do is to blame the government when things don’t go their way. Young people go to rallies not to hear their messages but to enjoy, because they are interested in the musician that will be present. Even political parties offer free beer to attract the youth to come and vote for them. But young people no longer have interest in voting.

Youth no longer find interest in religious activities like going to church. And those who go to church sometimes hide their bibles so that they can't be seen that they are going to church. Pupils in assembly will be busy talking or making fun of the pastor/speaker while preaching.

Criminals are cool

Youth are more interested in criminal activities than good things because they start at a very young age, and find pleasure in them. Youth are proud of being a criminal or coming from jail. They see it as been cool and popular. Some killing is no longer hard for them, life and death is the same to them.

The truth is that we the youth are not heading in the right direction. Let us change our ways for the better because the future of South Africa is in our hands.

How do we expect to carry South Africa forward with our hands that are full of blood? Youth Day is not a day to rejoice in by drinking or doing drugs but a day to evaluate ourselves whether we have used every educational opportunity because it was fought by the blood of the youth of 1976.

Youth rise against all odds. 

* Mandla Maswanganyi is a Grade 12 pupil at Orlando High School in Soweto, one of the schools whose learners participated in the historic June 16 march 40 years ago.

- News24 will give the youth a voice on our platforms for Youth Day. A group of learners share their thoughts with you. What does Youth Day mean to you? Let us know your thoughts here.

Read more on:    soweto  |  youth  |  youth day  |  soweto40

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