Grap­pling with fes­ti­val’s goals

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

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!”

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