.As South Africans marks Youth Month, which celebrates the milestones and achievements of its youth, and we commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the 1976 Soweto students uprising and 25 years since the dawn of democracy in South Africa, and 10 years of NYDA. As we reflect on the 25 years of democracy and 10 years of the NYDA, It is an appropriate moment to look at the reflections around both agency and June 16 and what this means for the crisis of what has become of South African youth and its leadership.
The relevant and critical question we must cogitate and ponder is: Do the current youth know, fathom, appreciate and utilize the opportunities available to them brought about by the June 16 uprising? The better way to respond to this key question is to reflect and assess the state of the South African youth in the Economy, Politics, Education and Social affairs today!
South Africa is going through a very tough time. The political situation is precarious. Our economy is in crisis, public education is a disaster, corruption is rampant and the exclusion and character assassination of young black professionals in both public and private is lethal and an epidemic of young black women murders, are out of control.
But nonetheless, as we begin to reflect on the NYDA years, this year’s celebration should give the NYDA a pause for thought. It should highlight deep issues about violence against women in a country where most women still suffer deep deprivation, exclusion and some of the worst gender-based violence in the world. Despite young women’s commitment and contribution to the apartheid struggle they were never regarded as truly equal to men in the patriarchal and hierarchical structures of society and its government and private sector. South Africa was liberated by young men and women, who listened to their own conscience, and recognised their duty to fight injustices. Many of them gave their youth to liberation struggle. So many others gave their lives, to the struggle, so that this generation would not have to.
One of the main tasks of the NYDA has is the provision of analytical tools that can help young people to explain the unequal world they live and must make their futures in, however the agency has since failed to transform the lives of young people, women in particular.
It is with a throbbing and bleeding heart that young people have to celebrate youth month in fear, when many young women are being molested, raped, killed in numbers while on the other hand young people continues to fight the thunders of their struggle such as education exclusion, and exploitation and unemployment. It has become a dishonour to continue to celebrate the colossal and heroic deeds of the youth of 76 uprising as this generation when many are unemployed, among them are young black graduates.
It’s been 10 years since the agency existed yet the youth continues to live on a lonely island of abject poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity and 25 years later in democracy, young graduates still suffer in the corners of our society and finds themselves an exile in their own country. 10 years later, NYDA has unsuccessful failed to represent its youth; It has today failed to make youth development central top priority and create jobs for many of our young people. In its 10 years, it failed young black graduates who yearn for decent jobs and salary.
As we reflect on 10 years of agency and the present challenges facing young people, we should, in our time of reflection pause and ponder and ask ourselves if the Agency has done enough to improve young people’s lives, and that as an agency, you haven’t failed to address the challenges of youth empowerment and skills development; that in your 10 years, you haven’t failed black graduates who want work and earn decent wages. We should further ask, in our moment of reflection, has the agency not failed young people by not contributing to economic transformation that was suppose to grow and produce jobs.
Has the agency not been the enemy No1 of young people who are increasingly getting frustrated as a result of lack of skills and unavailability of jobs? Has the agency, as a mouthpiece and policy advocacy for youth not derail and contributed to lack of access to finance their businesses, and have you not failed to radicalize the agency in forcing financial institutions which remain untransformed and are unfavorable to black businesses to implement bold and innovative measures when dealing with our youth, so that young people have the possibility to fully participate in the economy of our country.
Therefore, I say to you before we celebrate in some exclusive ivory towers, the gains of youth struggle; we need to rid ourselves of this culture of celebrating youth month by spending millions when those millions can be redirected into job creation projects in townships, where young people are. We ought celebrate youth month through practical means of development in where young people are, by improving their businesses, by erecting centres and providing them with equipment, training and monitor their progress than spending a day in a stadium.
You must, from now onwards, rededicate, renew yourselves, and reconfigure the agency in enabling it to address the emancipation of young women from poverty, unemployment and social marginalisation. You need to ensure that youth development becomes a critical component of the Black Economic Empowerment strategy. You must radically advocate and boldly influence powers that be to create funding for Agribusiness for young women and men and further connect both the education and job creation strategies
You must create economic opportunity, build a culture of entrepreneurship in practical terms, get young people to take responsibility for improving their lives, rather than putting them in a position where they sit back in their poverty and blame others for that. Today, as youth we recognize that education and jobs, and not grants, are pillars of development and that, meaningful social transformation cannot happen without empowering of young women which is very necessary to gender equality.
Nhlanhla Mosele better known as Noble Son is a young entrepreneur, a staunch proponent of Black Consciousness Movement. he is also a blogger, writer and social commentator.