What is our June 16 Moment?

2015-06-20 12:52

Historically youth have always been the subject of harsh criticism from the older generation. To use an old cliché "the lost generation", now this term is not unique to our generation.

The youth of 76 was also referred to in that manner by their parents who had internalised Apartheid and believed there was nothing that could be done to overcome Apartheid. This ignorance or should I say tameness comes with old age. Now what are the current struggles facing us as youth of 2015 and what can be done to overcome these challenges?

We are faced with a Moria of social ills as youth but for the purposes of this piece we will focus on unemployment, education system and substance abuse. Our education is system is often criticised for being of poor quality and as someone who started my

schooling in a public school, I can attest to the poor standards of numeracy and literacy in those schools.

The education system of a country determines the character of its citizens, under Bantu Education the Black students was only taught how to be a good servant of White South Africa, hence the class of 76 fought for equal education, currently not much has changed for the township and rural folk as our education system keeps producing consumers instead of captains of industry.

Some 50% of youth dropout without matric. A 2014 report shows that of the 1.1 million learners who started grade 1 twelve years ago only 550 000 wrote Matric exams, what happened to the other 550 000 learners surely not all of them are deceased? This question takes us to the issue of youth unemployment which stands at a staggering 36.1% that is millions of despondent young people who loiter the pothole and sewage infested streets of our townships with no hope of ever finding employment. The lucky ones who manage to find employment (with no qualifications) are confronted by the exploitative labour market of South Africa which remains firmly in the control of White monopoly capital; they are forced to share their meagre wages with Labour Brokers and loan sharks as they survive on credit. In fact Black people are so poor so much so that they pay for their clothes in instalments. Those who have the privilege of getting tertiary education are faced with a rising unemployability as the skills they acquire are not what the capital intensive South African economy needs.

The plight of the Black graduate deserves a mention, who are seen as second class citizens in the workplace and the cheapening of their qualifications and skills by these White institutions. They keep being recycled in Internships and government sponsored learnerships which pay as little as R1500 p.m, while they still have to pay off their student debts, NSFAS for those who could prove that they are poor in university and Bank Student loans for the children of "Black Diamonds".

What is there to do for these dejected young people? The majority finds comfort in substance abuse in the form of Nyaope that is currently ravaging our townships and villages. This further fuels more unrest in the community as these nyaope addicts turn to petty crime and vandalism (scrap metals industry) to feed their habits. These idle youth are the first to loot foreign owned shops, are in the frontlines of service delivery protests and perpetuate xenophobia. Those with jobs turn to alcohol run away from the reality of a troubled nation.

It said that South African drug consumption is twice the world norm, a recent study showed that the Eastern Cape one of the poorest and under developed provinces spent a staggering R8.6 billion on alcohol. Such substance abuse further fuels the spread of STDs as these high and drunk youth partake in reckless behaviour resulting in unwanted pregnancies, violence and an ignorant populace. These challenges cannot be divorced from our calls for Economic Freedom in our lifetime as the attainment of the 7 Cardinal Pillars will allow us to address these challenges which stem from an untransformed economy that remains anti-poor and anti-black. As the youth of today we need to take a firm stand and show the courage of Izidla’mlilo of 76 who said enough is enough. We stand to inherit this South Africa and if things remain the way they are, then we stand to inherit a shell.

Let us agitate for grassroots youth development in our communities, engage the youth through sport, let us build libraries, plough back to your village or township by setting up extra classes for high school students and form cultural groups that can educate our fellow brothers and sisters on the beauty of Afrikan culture and Blackness so that their eyes can be opened to the sad reality of a South Africa in a crisis and see results of the negotiated political freedom. It is indeed meaningless.


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