How have you spent your June 16, 2011? Let me guess, you used this public holiday to catch up on things that have been lagging in your life. Well don’t feel guilty because you are not the only one. I spent this day mowing the lawn and also writing this article.
If politicians had their way you are I would not be allowed to use such an important and historical day for such trivial things. They would force us to go to the stadiums and listen to endless speeches from people who pretend to care about the youth. Our country is one that is bigger on symbolism than on substance. There are people who think it is more important to maintain allegiance to our history than it is to make a real difference to people living today.
Today’s young people are faced with so many challenges. These include unemployment, sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s), violence, dysfunctional education system, etc. For example, in their report, Strategies for Youth, the Southern Africa Trust, reveals some shocking statistics regarding youth’s involvement in violence. Amongst the information in this report there is the shocking revelation that in the year 2007 in Southern Africa about 48% of 15-24 year-olds and 44% of 25-34 year-olds who died of non-natural causes died of violence. According to the report South African youth not only constitute a major proportion of victims of violence, but are also the major contributors to the perpetration of violence. What causes our young people to have such propensity to violence?
You would think these and other issue would be the focus of nation’s leaders. You would think that they would travel the length and breadth of our nation looking for solutions to these social ills. Instead of doing that they form something like the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and then staff it with party loyalists. This irrelevant organization is given millions of rands of our hard-earned money so that they can provide employment for the ruling party’s youth leaders. Each province is supposed to have Provincial Youth Advisory Boards reporting to the mother body. Each board has a chairperson who is paid R650 000 per annum. The qualification of most board members and chairpersons is that they are card carrying members of the ruling party. And who can forget World Youth Conference they hosted last year wherein the main discussion point was imperialism. For this conference they were given close to R100 million.
Contrast this with the real issues affecting young people and you would see that our politician’s priorities are misplaced and misdirected. The current crop of political youth leaders do not have young people’s issues at heart. They are unlike the youth of 1976 who risked everything so that we could be emancipated. Today’s youth leaders are self-serving individuals who horde the limelight for all the wrong reasons. They care more about self-enrichment than about the constituency they claim to represent.
We must look elsewhere then for the solutions to the problems besetting our youth. While politicians are predisposed to invoke the spirit of dead fellow comrades it is time for us to invoke the Spirit of God. While politicians like to view themselves as paragons of wisdom it is time for us to tap into the wisdom that comes from above.
Our youth deserve more than to be placated with something called a youth-day or even youth-month. They need role-models and people who will guide and care for them. We need to wean them off ungodly influences and direct them to a real life-changing power than only our God provides.
It is my walk with the Lord in the last 15 years that has helped me see where my hope and true power lies. According to SA’s definition I still belong in the category of youth but I have no doubt that God is my only source and sufficiency. Young people, please lift your eyes to Him who is the beginning and the end and whose hands your destiny lies. Happy youth day!