9 June 2006
- This year we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of June 16. It has become more and more of a ritual where we convene gatherings of this nature, and we sometimes forget what their significance were to our own freedom.
- A gathering of this nature should remind us that young people, some in their time being at your age, were prepared to die for the liberation of the country.
- At the time when the class of ?76 took to the streets, it became clear that the Apartheid regime was unsustainable and was loosing its grip. The use of force was undermined by the students of the time, as they believed that whatever the cost, their liberation is supreme.
- The bullets sprayed by the Apartheid regime on the unsuspecting students were to reverberate into the future and change the way in which the struggle was waged.
- The youth of ?76 resorted to militancy, spontaneity and radical acts to get what they wanted. Most importantly, their actions raised a sleeping giant of anti ? Apartheid action. A wave of action, though uncoordinated, arose and challenged the status quo.
- Parents, teachers, workers, priests alike believed that the leadership provided by the youth should be followed and their steps should be complemented by more and more action. No one was prepared to take the racial, class and women oppression any more and in unison, a declaration that enough was enough was heard in all corners of the world.
- In exile, the world, the ANC and the other liberation movements were equally shook by the activities. It was not the manner in which the youth had faced the barrel of the gun and were prepared to die that shook them, but the fact that in an equal tone, and in desperation, the Apartheid regime was prepared to massacre the youth of the country.
- Year after year post ?76; thousands of youth cut their fists through the air in anticipation of the release of Mandela, Sisulu, Kathrada, Mbeki and Mothopeng. They also in the same vein cut the air with their fists in anticipation of the return of the guerrillas and the unbanning of the ANC.
- They had heeded the call that together, and forever, they shall fight the Apartheid regime through petrol bombs to their police stations and through their hippos and mellow-yellows with stones to finally attain their freedom.
- Many of those went into exile and joined the ANC, demanded rifles and hippos and helicopters and tanks to return back and overthrow the Apartheid regime. Uhuru was certain for them and the oldies were wasting their time.
- Others, Ephraim Mohale included, joined Robben Island and believed that the struggle was being delayed and increased the sense of urgency towards the liberation of the people.
- This was the character of the youth of ?76, who were determined to fight against Apartheid. Their enemy was not the white man, but the system which the white people of the time presided over.
- Their enemy was not the white people, not the white women, the white poor, the white working class and the rest but those who benefited from the oppression and exploitation of black people.
- The youth before, during and after ?76 believed that their role, in liberating themselves, was also to liberate the oppressor. To free the oppressor from their mentality of being a superior race and class.
- To free them from deluding themselves that because of their colour, they possessed power supposedly given to them by the almighty and with those they could segregate and divide society as, when and how they wished.
- What then do we deem as our challenge today? What is it that we believe is the problem facing youth today? Do we still have the same problems that the youth of ?76 faced?
- Are we still victims of the terrible history that our country, as black, white, coloured and Indian youth were subject to for more than 350 years? What is our struggle? Or do we see ourselves as entirely free from any form of exploitation and oppression?
NEW CHALLENGES FACING YOUTH.
- The reality that we face is that the youth of ?76 have brought us the basic rights that we today enjoy. We today attend school freely without any form of intimidation, unwarranted police presence and study in a school free of corporal punishment.
- We never fear to come to school because we know that no one can come in the school premises to arbitrarily arrest the so called freedom fighters. Importantly, Bantu Education, the most embarrassing and humiliating form of education system, has been outsourced.
- Today, we are provided for with Outcomes ? Based Education. We are also not seen as empty black brains that are waiting for information to be deposited in our brains. We are also not seen as future slave wage earners but as equally skilled as our Indian, Coloured and White counterparts. The idea that we the black folks were not the better managers, and that some jobs were not suitable for these better folks has been eradicated and outlawed and we live in a democracy were we are all equal.
- However, the challenge is to ensure that we improve on all of these issues. The 30th Anniversary of June 16 is an opportune time for us to raise all of these issues, especially as it relates to education.
- The demand for free education at all levels should be one of our uppermost. Access to education should not be a luxury for those who earn more. It should not be the exclusive benefit for the few whom because of their past or present economic conditions are the ones who actually access education.
- The critical continuing discord in development and underdevelopment, including infrastructure, the quality of delivery of lessons, the quality of schooling facilities, the provision of learner support materials and access to nutrition in schools is the most important challenge that we face.
- The cornerstone of any successful nation arguably lies in the extent it invest in its education and skills. The provision of free education beyond the compulsory levels is therefore of paramount importance.
- Because of the level of education that our parents received, and because some of them never received that education, most are suffering the indignity of not being able to read and write their own name.
- The provision of education therefore moves beyond top academia, but includes ensuring that we do not suffer such indignity. The role of youth in helping the illiterate to overcome this challenge and lack of skill is important. Grabbing the pen and paper to teach our older folks to read and write is our national duty. It is through their expense that we are able to read and write, it is our honour to plough back to them.
FIGHTING UNEMPLOYMENT AND POVERTY
- Many of you may say why I should fight. You may ask yourselves who should we fight against and how do we fight. The challenge of unemployment and poverty is the new challenge that we face as the youth of this country.
- Of the 8million unemployed in South Africa, 70% (that is more than 5,5 million) are youth. Every year your brothers and sisters pass Matric, and only 17% of those get to study in universities. Very few of those find quality jobs. A lot more fewer join the SMME world or the informal economy.
- As it relates to job-creation, the youth of this country needs to emulate the youth of ?76 to take the centre stage and ensure that they demand jobs. There is a clear connection between lack of education, lack of skills, continuation of poverty and the rising unemployment.
- We are not going to attain our total liberation when we still feel the pinch of unemployment and poverty. The government and business have an important role to play. As the youth of the country, we have triple the responsibility.
- When we ask ourselves whether we still have the challenge as youth of the country today, we should sit back and ask ourselves these following questions. When I complete my school, what am I going to do. If I say I am going to university, will my parents afford it? If I say I am going to work, how many of my brothers and sisters are unemployed, including their friends and my friends brothers and sisters.
- We need to know what causes this unemployment. We need to know why is it that there are those who are well off in their families and those who are not. Why is it that I should have as much food as possible whilst others over street do not have? In responding to these questions to ourselves and the millions of others, we will be called to action. We will desire to change the unjust nature that the current economy is based on.
TOTAL BANNING OF DRUGS FROM OUR BODIES AND SCHOOLS
- If there is a second struggle that we are faced with, that struggle is against drugs. Intsangu, izolo, ipilisi, utjwala, ibeer and many other forms of alcohol that we face. We need to keep our bodies free of all these harmful substances.
- Drugs do not play, neither do they pay. Drugs do not enhance our performance in or in any sports. All that drug do is to make us believe that we are the most strongest and powerful individuals. They make us believe that we can force the pillars down or rock the boat.
- Stop drugs. They are not our friends, neither are they our enemies. If we all want to be teachers and doctors to serve our nation with commitment we need to abstain from drugs. The greatest lie that the drug pushers tell us is that these substances enhance our performance.
- They do not tell us why these drugs are not served to us when we are able to take a decision when we are above 18 years. They do not tell us why these drugs are sold behind the school toilets. They do not explain that the reason they are selling these drugs to us is not because they like us, but because they like money.
- Not are we only being called upon to stop doing drugs, but we are further called upon to stop the selling of drugs in our schools. When we go to school, we go to learn, not to be high on these drugs. There is another secret I want to share with you. The highest organ of our body is the brain. A drug goes into the brain and starts destroying the brain cells and thus decapitates our ability to think and comprehend. We need to say to our friends who take drugs that they are killing themselves. They must stop using drugs otherwise they are not our friends. Our brain, when affected by these drugs, become dependent on these drugs, they kill us and subject us to their ruthlessness and the ruthlessness of the drug pushers.
THE CHALLENGE OF FIGHTING AGAINST HIV/AIDS
- HIV/AIDS kills and there is not cure for it. The greatest myth that we perpetuate today is to say that there is no AIDS, and that people never dies of AIDS. That?s a lie. We see all of us, on a daily basis, the burial of many people by dying of AIDS.
- We need to follow the 3 principles of fighting HIV/AIDS. Don?t compromise, condomise! Don?t Cheat, be faithful, don?t have sex when you are not ready, ABSTAIN. We need to join in as youth in the struggle against HIV AIDS by openly campaigning for education, prevention and care. We need to accept that people are infected or affected by HIV/AIDS on a daily basis and that it remains our responsibility to contribute to this fight.
- The challenges of HIV/AIDS have an impact on the economy. The more skilled and educated people we loose through the disease the more we loose money invested into their capacity building. The fight against HIV/ADIS is therefore the most important struggle that we need to engage into as youth.
- We should take up the education of our compatriots of the implications of this disease. We need to care for those who are infected or affected. We need to demand that all of those are taken care of so as we demystify the disease. From here on, go and test, know your status.
THE CHALLENGE OF CRASS MATERIALISM AND CONSUMERISM
- There is another and last challenge that we face. This is the challenge of all of us wishing that they should have as much money as possible. We have people and youth desiring that they should, because of the life they see on television, have as many cars and houses as possible when they grow. This is not wrong. But we need to ask ourselves the question, how many mansions can we buy? How many double door fridges can we buy? How many Lamborghinis can we buy?
- We have the challenge of ensuring that we stop the creation of rich people and engage into wealth creation. We need to create this generation of youth from admirers of rich people and creators of wealth.
- Wealth that will be collectively created and shared amongst those who create it. The problem with the process of creation of rich people is that this has planted greed, hatred and selfishness and has eroded in the innermost cultural values of our nation.
- The desire to be rich at all cost has popped up a youth generation that has committed itself to corrupt others and engage itself into corrupt activities. They say money makes the world goes round, but I say work makes the world go round. Money stops the world. It buys us drugs and all the other vice objects we believe we need and thus we do anything and all to ensure that we have money.
- Money is indeed, as said many a times, the root of all evil. Our challenge is to replace the desire for more money with the desire to work, to produce, collectively, for the collective benefit of all in our community.
- Many amongst the youth have killed their sense of caring. We have continuously put ourselves first because we believe that we are the sole living beings in society. We are not. We are formed by a family, a community, a nation that also cares for us only if we also cared. We are part of a multi-billion population divided between those who have money and those who do not have.
- We need to change this. The world cannot continue killing itself on the basis of more and more money. The youth of today, you, should stop this tendency for the unending desire of money.
- Those of you who are doing economics should have heard that the Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni raised interest rates yesterday. He did this because we eat [consume] more than we can produce. We buy cars and houses and everything else on credit. It should not be the case that we care for what the Governor does on any given days, but it affects us.
- Some of us are responsible for our parent?s spending based on credit. We demand Levi?s jeans, Soviet Shirts, All Stars and a Steve Hoffmeyer and Eminem CD. We do not sometime care where they get the money. We surely, as one of the messages today, should stop demanding things on the basis of luxury and demand them on the basis on need [utility]
- We need to change the way things are in the world. The only way to change things is to understand why they are in this way. The only way to understand why things are the way they are in the world; we need to study the world itself.
- We are challenged to pose troublesome questions and help in finding solutions for those. We are challenged to action our findings and give way to a new sunrise, the sunrise that will reverse the current dark moments of our time.
- Thirty years down the line, things have changed?but have they changed for the better. Ask yourself if you are happy with what is happening, if not, turn around and change it, not tolerate.
- Thank you