While the debate about religious holidays in South Africa’s calendar rages on, the powers that be should also look at political holidays. I think there are too many of them and their meaning has been lost to many of us. I mean when was the last time you celebrated Heritage Day and what did you do to commemorate it? And what about Freedom Day or Worker’s Day? I am sure you are getting my point. June 16 is known on these shores as Youth Day and subsequently the whole month of June has been dedicated to the youth. Now did you do anything in your normal routine to factor this? If you are like the majority of South Africans you probably couldn’t be bothered.
Our State President, the honourable Jacob Zuma was billed to be the keynote speaker at the main Youth Day Celebration that was held at the Wolfson Stadium, in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth. But he jetted off to Mexico for a G20 Summit and instead sent Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane to represent him. Many have suggested that the President chickened out to avoid being booed and embarrassed by ANC Youth League members dissatisfied with his style of leadership. They say he is autocratic. This is the same organisation whose ex-president, Julius Malema, declared that he would kill for Jacob Zuma. Julius who? I know, I know, he is a classic example of the corrupting nature of power and of how the mighty fall. Now they are probably searching for the next; self-seeking, vulgar and unprincipled young person because these seem to be the criteria for being the president of the Youth League. If you think you are invincible and you think you are a wellspring of ideas we should daily be listening to, then the ANC Youth League is looking for you. If you can pronounce the words ‘nationalisation’ and ‘expropriation’, and have the rare ability to be senseless for most of the time and can denigrate people at a whim, then please do apply.
However if you have an actual skill, are well-mannered and considerate then you are not the candidate. Now June 16 is a celebration of the selfless struggle of the youth of 1976. But now it has degenerated into a celebration of meaninglessness and posturing. On this day many stand and make meaningless speeches about the struggles young people face today and what should be done to address those struggles. Many of these very same individuals are responsible for entrenching SA’s youth into a life of poverty and underachievement through policies designed to benefit a few politically connected people. The real story of SA’s youth is that many are deprived of opportunities necessary for them to craft a bright and meaningful future. Many live in dire poverty, are unemployed, are receiving substandard education, etc. But contrast this with the lifestyles of youth leaders from our political formations and from an outfit called the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
The NYDA is the organisation that is renowned for wastefulness. They blew R100 million in an ill-conceived conference that was characterised by kissing games played by the international delegates. Note that much of this money was raised from the Lotto, the very organisation with which many NGOs have become disillusioned. Relief organisations with impeccable records have become exasperated with the shenanigans of this funding body whose funding criteria very few understand. The dysfunctional NYDA, which purports to represent the developmental aspirations of young people, has an annual budget of R400 million. What is it used for? Well, most of it to pay staff who are mostly ANC Youth League members. In fact this organisation has been called an employment agency for the Youth League. They have recently complained to parliament that their budget is not enough and are asking for it to be increased to R1 billion. The sad thing is that they might actually get this preposterous request granted. Now why should any young person relegate the future of their lives to this cabal of uncaring people?
The youth must understand that they are not supposed to be spectators in the theatre of the own lives. They are supposed to be the main actors. Stop being political fodder or a rented face. You have God on your side, so take matters into your hands and forget about rallies where corpulent men who drive luxury vehicles and consume expensive alcohol come and ventilate air and pontificate meaningless rhetoric. As families we are responsible for raising balanced and successful individuals and we cannot abdicate this responsibility to some conceited and grandstanding politicians. I say let us do away with the youth month and go back to our homes to raise our children the way the Bible instructs us to. In fact, let us do away with all these holidays that promote symbolism at the expense of substance. There is nothing politicians love more than symbolism.
Why should our youth only matter in one month of the year and the rest of the time they have to learn under trees, be victims of crime, and many other evils? We, the Church, have a responsibility to wean them away from this pervasive and deceptive culture of instant gratification and entitlement. We must expose the lies of these self-serving hyenas that masquerade as custodians of youth development. We, ordinary South Africans, are the real custodians of youth development, because we gave birth to these young people and by God we can develop them.