Yesterday I cried, but who cares about my tears...

2016-10-10 23:01

I was born after 1976, too late to have been part of the heroics of the youth of that period. In fact till this day, I remain out of depth to comprehend or to judge the superior application of the Tsietsi Mashinine generation to challenges of the youth of that generation. I do know from a philosophical stand that there was a wisdom demanded by the period, that made a Steve Biko rise beyond his age to awake a new consciousness.

I think of my own life as a teenager or in my early twenties and the challenges of the youth in my generation. A sober pause to reflect on my own emotional depth and my philosophy at the time. I don't believe for a moment, I could have been as wise or as much an activist in the early 90s like 70s generation.

There is though a line of thinking that appropriately puts context to this. Every generation of young people face different environments and challenges informing their level of activisms or wisdom. Earlier in the century the architects of black liberation were an intellectual class, with both local and foreign education. In the convening of the African National Congress or All African Convention, the Seme and Xuma generation were driving a different battle, which revolved around a deeper philosophical debate on the agency of black people as participants in civilisations.

This generation would go on to build a national organisation that would breed the Mandela generation. A generation of Sobukwe and Tambo where the agenda moved to the franchise and self determination of black people. The arm struggle, the call for Azania to return became a new call. Of course I would be speaking out of turn if I did not highlight that each generation had it's own discos and conflicts resulting in the many movements that characterised our journey to freedom.

The most defining struggle for my generation, at least according to me, was in my high school years, when my generation was tormented by a school subject called Mathematics.

President Mandela had made a call for the youth to return to school and education was the next struggle. Noting a talent and flair for the subject, I became obsessed with teaching mathematics. I started a Mathematics foundation that would have me travel across the country teaching the subject, from township schools, to rural schools and to street kids. To this end I developed what I thought was the philosophical key to unlocking mathematical potential. The Nelson Mandela Children's fund would fund the programme, with me as the CEO before my 22nd birthday.

I would return one more time to the classroom in 2008. The most surprising thing with my second stint, mathematics was no longer a challenging subject for most of the kids. Teaching the subject was a lot easier, and even with the 40% pass mark , these kids were pulling close on 100% for their grades. Today most of them are graduates and young professionals. The most commendable attribute to their success was their work ethic, we were at school at 06:30 am and we left 05:00 pm. We spent Friday nights all night at a centre called Funanani where I continue to contribute to the lives of the youth.

Why did I cry?

In as much as I have labled myself an activist, a thinking patriot or a development specialist, I know I can't talk for the current generation in as much as I can't think being a Soweto pupil in 1976.

Forget the privilege debate, forget the frustration of making grades but not being able to pay fees, forget the VCs protection of compasses with the might of the law, the politicking of #FeesMustFall and all pertinent issues to this debate.

Imagine for a second that this generation is the biggest in the population, they are the most unemployed, perhaps the most marginalised. Zwelinzima Vavi called the generation a ticking time bomb looking at the upper end of the generation even some five years ago. Something so fragile that tredding with care is a requirement. Compare this fragile state with the assassination of Chris Hani, where the situation could have spun into civil unrest. There is a new social uncertainty in South Africa and everybody has their assessment of where to place the blame. However I cried when I realised there was no Rolihlahla Mandela, to reassure the nation, at this point of need. He was not the President at the time, but one in prospect.

Be Inspired SA!

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