Greater obstacles for youth
YOUTH Month conjures up memories of a dangerous and volatile era, in many respects, a long-forgotten time.
One remembers an era of student activism and protest.
Its aim: the liberalisation and transformation of education as well as the achievement of a number of important social liberties and societal reforms.
It was this era, defined by a dangerous, sophisticated and segregationist enemy, which ultimately gave rise to the heroics of student leaders, activists and other social movements.
Social change, both radical and organised, was the hallmark of this period of widespread instability, violence and protest.
As costly and as challenging as life was for the youth of 1976, I can only envy their commitment, diligence and tenacity.
After all, it was these characteristics which developed within them the capacity to oppose the power structures of our nation’s past.
The spirit of resistance borne by these heroes spread like wildfire across the country and escalated the intensity of the struggle for liberation.
With zeal, charisma and courage, it was youngsters who demonstrated (to the world) the resolute opposition to inequality that the people (at great risk to their own safety and liberty) so openly and courageously expressed.
The gains of past demonstrations and protest actions are amplified not only by a free and fair political culture, but by the existence of a new generation of youth, carrying within them a rejuvenated culture of activism, among scholars and others.
Access to quality education and other social reforms, it appears, has become the subject of renewed tension and instability.
It is interesting to witness the formulation and organisation of new social movements aimed at redressing the continuing existence of inequality in the lives of the people of this country.
Challenges facing the youth of this country do not differ substantially from those of the past.
Inequality, social injustice and the higher cost of education, are the major driving forces behind most new outbreaks of protest and violence.
The socio-economic profile of the majority of youth, still display characteristics of systemic and engendered inequality.
The progress and development of the new South Africa has benefited a relatively indiscernible number of non-whites, most of whom are middle-class.
Whether or not we care to admit it, in my opinion, inequality has only deepened.
Unemployment and the challenges within the economy present often times insurmountable challenges.
Socio-economic conditions within the environment continue to make quality living a challenge for most youths, yet social transformation and racial equality, would appear to top the current agenda.
A great challenge for the youth of South Africa today, is gaining equal access to the opportunities that life and nature will present itself for the individual to progress and further themselves personally, socially and holistically. The removal of these obstacles, whether real or perceived, which block the individual’s path to these opportunities, is always understood to be in the best interest of society at large, yet it appears that some of these obstacles are greater today than they were in the past.
The challenge in modernday South Africa is for every young person to gain access to the resources and means available to them and, through every endeavour possible, to strive towards the successful fulfilment of their personal goals.
The cumulative attainment of these personal goals is ultimately the currency, which bankrolls transformation, development and progress, as well as the collective gains of our society.
Social cohesion and political unity, as well as a strong culture of opposition to the constructs which constrain the liberties and freedoms of our generation, are the only available avenue or path to actualising change. It is the attainment of our individual goals as people, which ultimately guarantees the future of our society.
I believe the success of one individual creates a pathway for the success of others, and guarantees a future for another individual or another society.
In a way, our interdependence as a society and our personal drive to succeed are the secret ingredient to the progress of our generation.
However, while current circumstances exist to the disadvantage of the majority of youth, greater activism and political involvement on the part of our youth will continue to be destructive and absent of any fruitful political gain.
Insofar as student/youth protest action is concerned, even in terms of the often times violent nature of political activity, I believe that as a generation, it is our future we should be fighting for, rather than short-term relief from our hardships.
As a generation we should be willing to venture more actively onto a path which will create an environment where more lasting solutions can be found.
The greatest challenge to our youth and the future of our country today is not so much inequality or racism or disunity or even some undesirable circumstance.
The real challenge is apathy, indifference and ignorance, all of which are enemies to progress, all of which are vested within individuals.
The youth need to assume control over their destiny, the destiny of their peers and the destiny of society at large.
The youth need to strive, continuously taking steps to actualise a greater vision for the future of all South Africans.
Utopism should have little place within this environment.
Instead, practical, sensible and sound undertakings as well as the associated duties, tasks and labours, which we are all willing to perform towards our collective benefit, are the only steps which will legitimately lead our generation and its interests further.
Elsies River community bridging the gap between the youth and gangsterism through the Zumba Youth Fitness Expo.