Youth Month – another empty gesture


The lives of women are not improved because the month of August is dedicated to them and neither should we expect any improvement in the lives of young people in this current month of June, known in South Africa as a youth month. Why then do we have these different days dedicated to different sectors of the population? We have them in order to soothe our consciences and make us feel as if we are doing something about the plight of the people to whom a particular day is dedicated to.

Mothers’ Day or Fathers’ Day serve no purpose except to placate our egos and ease our guilt for neglecting our loved ones for the rest of the year. The real beneficiaries of these days are not the people they are named after but the commercial behemoths who sell us the idea that our love for our mothers and fathers is best expressed with a gift from their stores. These are the same people who have commercialised Christmas and made us believe that giving gifts to each other is the best way to remember the birth of our Saviour.

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How would you feel if on your birthday everyone was giving gifts to each other and nobody thought of giving a gift to you? Of cause I am raising this well aware of the controversies surrounding Christmas and the different views the church has about this day. My point is about how meaningless we can be sometimes. For instance, have you heard that there was a reduction in the abuse of women and children during the 16 Days of Activism for no violence against woman and children or people changing their sexual behaviour during World Aids Day on December the 1st?

Let me remind you of the horrific rape last year of a 6 week old baby. This rape occurred during the 16 Days of Activism period. Human behaviour cannot be changed by a few days of public campaigning but through a sustained effort that begins in childhood. Dedicating a day or even a month to youth is not going to change their lot because all we do is to shower them with platitudes instead of offering them real solutions.

Unrealised potential
South Africa’s youth are a frustrated bunch who in turn are frustrating everyone else in the country. They get up to mischief because they do not see any prospects for their lives. They have great potential but unfortunately it will not be unleashed by our posturing. We can pontificate and posture but until we scratch where it itches, nothing will happen. In my view we need to deal with two things.

On the social side we need to deal with substandard education and on the spiritual side we need to wean people from a dependency syndrome. The reality is that many of SA’s youth are at the receiving end of an education system that doesn’t help to prepare them to face and deal with life’s major concerns. Asking young people who are caught in this rut to pull themselves by their own boot straps is unfair because many have boots that do not even have straps.

Education is supposed to level the playing field but unequal education creates an uneven playing field. This needs to be attended to as a matter of urgency. Additionally, we also need to demystify the myth that powerful institutions like the government have the panacea to all of youth’s problems. Young people are not the problem of the government because the government does not give birth to children.

Government exists primarily to maintain a conducive atmosphere for people to optimally use their God-given talents. Parents and society exists to call out the potential that exists in our youth and this is a role that should be mainly championed by the church. Young people need to be taught that they are created with enormous potential and what they become in life is mainly dependant on how they relate to the One who gave them that potential.

Their help cometh not from political parties but it comes from the Lord. Sloganeering and having a day dedicated to them will not help them but is understanding their true identity that will.


  1. Thank you for so eloquently describing the passion of my heart, as well as of so many others. Our youth must be invested into as they DO have potential to change the world!

    • Well stated Afrika. What does not add up is the amount of resources spent towards these campaigns and yet Eastern Cape is a province that lacks proper class room facilities to enable the youth of today benefit from today’s education

    • Yes Jenny you are right. They have a lot of potential that should be harnessed.

  2. Margaret Ferguson

    You are correct Afrika about the principles. But if somewhat cynically looking at the bigger picture – Youth Day is just one more Public holiday in a plethora of them in South Africa that must be a real nuisance to business. It belies reason to me that a country that has an urgent need to grow economically is so littered with Public Holidays that as you say, serve no useful purpose whatsoever. However the government would not dare take away this right to a day’s jol for some workers and so the nonsense goes on. Some lateral thinking is needed – it would be more economically efficient, I am sure, to add a few days on to holiday rights even if it did not add up to the number of extra days off as now.It would certainly be fairer as some workers have to work on the Public Holidays anyway. The chances are that extending the holiday leave would be more attractive to workers.