Grappling with festival’s goals
THE EXCHANGE of ideas, building friendships between young people from around the world and mixing ideological disparities under one roof are some of the reasons the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students has been convened. These are some of the issues that have seen a glaring absence in the media.
The majority of local journalists who found their way to the conference did not attend sessions and chose to focus on the goings-on in the peripheries and what they term “kissing games”.
The convener of the Festival and the president of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, Tiago Vieira, had to challenge the media to attend the festival’s sessions.
South Africa has been afforded the opportunity to build relations among the young people of the world. The relationships will affect future international relations and change current socio and geo-politics.
It is fulfilling the ideals of former president Nelson Mandela that sessions are occurring where the speaker is an American woman and the interpretation is being done by a young Cuban woman, while the topic under discussion is the Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara. Isn’t this an indication of reconciliation? That conversation rather than conflict can solve problems.
We hope our efforts help in finding a solution to the problems of Western Sahara and the Sahawira people, as the young people of Morocco and Western Sahara are present. The same applies to the Zimbabweans and Britons attending.
A session on the equality of women and men was graced by a speaker from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The initiatives taken by leader Kim Jong-il to further the development of young women revolutionaries in that country were discussed. The ideas will expand the minds of our young people as they grapple with the contrasts of what is a patriarchal society within a national imperative of equality in a society.
The festival has not claimed to be the enclave of young people who share the same ideas, but one that strives to gather young people of the world and expose them to topics that challenge their world view. An event of such diversity will attract differences of opinions that, in some instances, will bring out the militancy in young people.
The world has seen the effect that a united youth can have on future generations, a sentiment that resounded with the session held on the proposition that higher education should be free for young people worldwide.
The 1976 generation not only affected the manner in which their education was assimilated and delivered. Their actions also had a monumental effect on the future of South Africa. This festival is, hopefully, sowing seed among young revolutionaries to open the doors of higher education to more young people.
Media commentators have been calling for an audit of the festival, an issue that has received wide coverage among the media. I, and the National Youth Development Agency, have always maintained that a full report of the festival, including accounting for expenditure, will be compiled.
The agency is a public entity and has to be audited and these are matters of public record and parliamentary scrutiny – a fact known to both Cosatu and the media. I am at a loss to as to why the media and Cosatu would want to focus on this procedural certainty and fail to point out that we received a clean audit last financial year.
I challenge Cosatu to tell us whether they sent a delegation to attend the session on unemployment and precariousness. Is this not an issue that pertains to workers within South Africa?
I challenge the media to attend and report on the session titled “The Manipulation of Media and Information”. Or is this too close to home?
We urge the young people of South Africa to start debating the issues we have brought to the table. THE WORLD Festival of Youth and Students being held in Pretoria is, apparently, a complete shambles, with speakers not arriving, and hotel bookings not made, as promised.
The theme is “Let’s defeat imperialism!” but it would appear that they need some imperialists to plan and run a project of this nature.
I note from reports that some delegates “missed breakfast” – I don’t think this is such a bad thing, as most delegates appear to be overweight, while others are completely obese.
Maybe a better theme would have been, “Let’s give the R69m we received from government back to the overburdened and impoverished taxpayer!”