My question is whose fault is it? Whose fault is it when the youth of today commit themselves to alcohol and drug abuse. We have been locked too much in meetings and boardrooms discussing youth programmes and challenges. It’s now time for less talk and more implementation.
Every year on June 16, South Africa commemorates the 1976 Soweto uprising to pay tribute to pupils who stood up against the apartheid government. They stood together and laid down their lives fighting for freedom and the right to equal education. Observed as a public holiday, the day serves as a reminder that young people in the country were at the forefront of our Struggle. It also provides us with an opportunity to take stock of the strides we've made in addressing issues facing the youth.
It’s not a day just to be merry, braai and be drunk as the youth of today are known to do. In South Africa we not only commemorate Youth Day but dedicate the entire month of June to the youth. This year’s Youth Month takes place within the same year that South Africa marks the 100 years, the centenary for Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu. These giants of the Struggle fought tooth and nail to see the emancipation of youth being a reality.
We need to encourage the youth to study agriculture and not look down on the agricultural sector because this is where their wealth is and where they will be able to contribute to the economy, create job opportunities, fight poverty and malnutrition and, most importantly, ensure food security. The slow pace of poverty and hunger reduction points to an urgent need for strategies to empower the youth better and to target the areas where poor people live and the activities on which their lives depend.
A successful strategy for alleviating poverty and hunger must begin by recognising that agriculture is at the heart of the livelihood of rural people. Smallholder farmers produce more than 70% of the world’s food supply, yet shockingly they represent over 50% of the world’s hungriest people. That's were the youth needs to focus their energy on. Land reform has been at the centre stage of discussions but where is the youth in these discussions? Give our youth the opportunity to prosper to cultivate a promising economic future that delivers benefits for all Africans.
Youth Month comes less than three months since President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service initiative that aims to prepare young people for work through training and matching programmes. It is a business-led initiative in partnership with government, labour and civil society. It will offer 1million young South Africans paid work over the next three years. I urge our youth to seize this opportunity to build our country.
* Tshepo Diale, Nkwe Estate.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.