At the opening of the 2016 Youth Month, Minister Jeff Radebe reminisced and celebrated the heroes of ’76. Along with quoting the likes of Moses Kotane, Solomon Mahlangu and Franz Fanon, who encouraged young people to “discover their mission” and either “fulfil it or betray it”, he spoke about the Youth Month Programme that has been put in place and will be run across the country throughout the Month of June.
With 2016 being the 40th Year since the 1976 youth uprisings, it is high time for all young people to reflect on what mark they will leave and how they want to be remembered. Reaching a point of ultimate clarity about what one wants to leave behind is of course dependent on circumstances but need not be dictated by them. It is with this in mind that young people should consider the possibilities, opportunities and resources that are indeed available in South Africa. One such resource is the National Youth Policy 2020 that makes it possible for all youth to participate in skills development, education and economic reform. This policy allows for programmes that promote youth development, access to information and entrepreneurship; they are offered through the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and the newly established Youth Development Institute of South Africa (YDISA). The NYDA is the biggest government-driven youth agency, but there are many other private organisations whose sole mandate it is to provide start-up capital, mentoring and incubation to young entrepreneurs.
The born-free generation has taught me that today’s youth is not just standing back and letting things happen. They know how to hustle. There is a kind of fire that burns within them and a willingness to go out there, find and take up opportunities, try things out, take risks, fail, try again and continue asking questions. All these qualities are associated with successful entrepreneurship. All of these can be seen in the way young people are taking ownership of their education through demanding that which is known as a basic right, and being the ones that question what has, for generations, been known as the status quo. Young people are trying out new ways of creating social impact, whether this be through building businesses that employ others or through establishing organisations that promote social change. Although there is still a high number of unemployed youth and although South African youth have been said to be less skilled than their parents were (according to Statistics South Africa), I am hopeful that this new wave of “hustling” will be the one that changes things for the future of our country.
In our 2015 article titled What does the youth of ’76 teach us about entrepreneurship?, young people were encouraged to do three things: boost their educational qualifications, turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones and keep looking. But what happens when you have done all three? Your next step is to re-evaluate your reasons for doing everything that you have been doing. Why have you placed yourself in the position that you have and what significant mark are you going to make in South Africa?
This Youth Month, the NYDA will be running a number of programmes throughout the country and I encourage everyone to participate actively. For more information on the NYDA Youth Month Programme, follow the following link: NYDA Youth Month Programme.
A challenge to all youth is to continue to be inquisitive and responsible in the actions that are taken when addressing issues of immeasurable importance. Now is the time for you as a young person to leave your mark. When you look back one day, what will your legacy be?
By: Lethabo Tloubata