Let’s catch a wake up - for the sake of our youth and our future!
Hector Pieterson (1964 – 16 June 1976) became the subject of an iconic image of the 1976 Soweto uprising in South Africa. A news photograph by Sam Nzima was published around the world of the dying Hector being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo, another 18 year old student, while his sister Antoinette Sithole ran next to them. He was killed at the age of 12 when the police opened fire on protesting students. For years, 16 June symbolized resistance to the brutality of the apartheid government. Today, it is designated National Youth Day — when South Africans honour young people and bring attention to their needs.
Inspired by the words of Oliver Tambo, I paraphrase, “if our country doesn't catch a wake up about the pressures faced, care needed, and nurturing required by youth (0 to 35), then we are planning for a future of doom!”
On June 16th, 2012 my wife and I were honored to take 15 young people on a day of fun, fellowship and fierce conversation. We reflected on the iconic image of Hector Pietersen and the 1976 Soweto uprising, sat in circle conversation, considered our hopes and dreams, had a wimpy breakfast, and finally youth considered a transformed society in images and statures. Viva youth Viva!!!!
I am grateful for youth who possess purpose and passion. The tough reality however, is that purpose and passion have to be matched with access to resources, for realisation of youthful potential. It is my belief that decision making, resolve, making informed choices, of youth within the Apartheid era, was made reality by the underpinning of mentorship, coaching and personal connection with available, caring, committed and courageous leaders. Post Apartheid youth, especially those in chronic economic situations, are living with their backs against the wall, where resolve is more complex than it is simple, and many of our elders, adult role models, and leaders are not willing, unable, or just too busy to do the work of coming alongside youth!
To ensure that youth make informed choices, and have resolve, we need people to step up and empower, mobilise, and walk with youth: out of their lack of resolve, their lack of quality information, their lack of this and that!! I have found that we have amazing young people across the length and breadth of our beloved South Africa. Young people in Lenasia, Glenvista, Chesterville, Veeplaas, Gugulethu, Sandton, Bloemfontein, and every other crack and crevice, who are willing to make a stand with passion, purpose, and resolve, all they need is the support.
Government, Corporates, development organisations, non profits, and religious organisations need to catch a wake up, about our future and put their time, money, and resources, where too many times we find just judging voices and too many trickle down and bogus youth development initiatives!
Our youth must make a stand as revolutionaries and champions, and we as the broader public must come alongside with our fervent investment of time and resources to ensure that young people are successful and live out their lives to their God-given potential! As we commemorate June 16th, 1976 may young people have the inspiration, motivation, determination and perspiration to make their hopes, dreams, missions and visions become a reality.