Greater ob­sta­cles for youth

Post - - Opinion - SIYABONGA TITI Siyabonga Titi is the na­tional spokesper­son of Proud Youth SA

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.

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