Cindy Waxa African News Agency (ANA)
Cindy Waxa African News Agency (ANA)

OPINION:Youth Month a real eye-opener

By Eustace Mashimbye Time of article published Jul 2, 2019

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The past four weeks, during which I gave my column over to young people to acknowledge Youth Month, was quite an eye-opener.

We chose four diverse contributors with very different personal circumstances and backgrounds and therefore got four very personal, but probably broadly representative, views and experiences of South Africa in 2019.

Of the four, Siyabonga is employed here at Proudly SA as our brand manager. He is a brilliant young man who is often frustrated when the young people who are so often spoken about nevertheless go largely unheard.

He is creative and thoughtful with much to contribute and so not surprisingly in his column he made a call for the broader representation of young people in the boardroom and in the political arena, where he believes they can really effect meaningful change for the future of the country.

Sibusiso from week three is a young entrepreneur whose industrial design company, Sintu, is a member of Proudly SA.

Sibusiso very eloquently outlined the lessons he has learnt, including the many hard ones, failures too, along his journey of life and work.

He is surely going places and we salute young entrepreneurs like Sibusiso who continue to set up businesses that will result in employment opportunities for other young people.

He, like so many other entrepreneurs, needs all our support.

Kelton Smith, whose piece appeared last week, is a film school student who has not yet entered the job market.

Perhaps a little idealistically, he calls on his cohorts to accept the challenges that face them and to supply their own light, even while “dancing in the dark”. We hope that he will be lucky next year after he's graduated to find a job in his chosen industry.

In fact, the local film and TV sector is one that is doing well in this country, where excellent local content means good employment prospects. Good luck, Kelton!

Roseline Sefuthi, who wrote the second column of the month, has a para-legal qualification but cannot find a job. She, like the others, is trying to shape her own future.

She contacted us quite randomly simply looking for a platform to be heard. We applaud her strength and determination, but so far no one has reached out to her to assist.

Roseline, understandably, feels anger and betrayal and as each week and month without work go by, her difficulties and those of many like her are compounded and her spirit is tested.

If anyone has an opening for a committed and articulate young woman with a National Diploma in Law from UJ who has also completed the Basics of Property Law & Conveyancing at Damelin College, please contact us.

So what conclusions can we draw? It seems it's hard to keep a good young person down, even someone in Roseline’s position.

As vulnerable as young people are, they are also resilient, recognising the need for adaptability, and reproaching the older generation for their lack of the same.

They have a vision for themselves and are frustrated that they are not in positions in which they can promote the youth agenda.

In a country where too many young people have shouldered responsibilities way earlier than anyone should have to, it is ironic that they cannot be salary earners and contribute in even more meaningful ways to the country and to their own futures.

If the future is in young people's hands, how does South Africa's future look when almost an entire generation has no work experience, no work ethic, no financial acumen (because they never have money beyond buying the next meal), no people or management skills and, for some, even no hope.

Perhaps our four young writers gave some hope and inspiration where it may have been absent.

I know we have used this song before, but for those of you who have not yet seen the inspirational video of the Ndlovu Youth Choir from Limpopo and their performance on America’s Got Talent last week, please watch it.

As uplifting and moving as it is, when a group of young South Africans’ hopes lie in a competition in America and not here at home, it is a betrayal of Vicky Sampson’s African Dream, which they sang so beautifully.

Buying local can at least go some way to assist in creating those jobs they so sorely need.

Eustace Mashimbye is the chief executive of Proudly South African.


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