Co-written by Polly Sekwala with photography by Khabazela Mkhize
As we countdown to June 16, we ask ourselves is it still a holiday that commemorates the youth of 1976 and dares the current generation to transcend to the second wave of economic freedom?
Myself, Polly Sekwala and Khabazela Mkhize went to Activate! Change Driver’s event at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg this week. The event aimed to launch a forum for ongoing debate in search of workable solutions to the challenges facing young people today.
We met up with Alioune (18) from Senegal who attends school at the African Leadership Academy in Houghton. To him June 16 is a reflection of what the older generation did to afford him the opportunity of acquiring quality education across African borders.
Pearl Pillay, International Affairs Officer on the Student Representative Council of the University of the Witwatersrand said, “June 16 is a reminder of what youth is capable of – because of their actions they created a ripple effect in the initiation stage of change. It is a good reminder of what organised groups can do. Because of our history we can inspire great change and it’s a reminder of how much work still has to be done.”
Young people are the life and the feet of transformation – Pearl Pillay
The event was very engaging, with group discussions in the morning and later a panel of professionals, both young and old, talked about the issues that are affecting the youth and how they can solve them.
Topics that were discussed were: “What are the tactics that young people can do to initiate change?” and “How can different sectors of society support young people?” The ideas that came from these discussions were thought provoking and the common plea was summed up in one sentence: co-creation and collaboration between the young and old.
Bernice Hlagala, Senior Manager for Youth Development in the Presidency said, “the Government will create a presidency youth development group unit that will focus on youth matters. It is important to focus on the youth because they constitute majority of the population.”
Koketso Moeti, a Social Activist said, “our government is too focused on structures and coming up with new programmes. We need context behind those structures to make them successful.”
Grace Matlhape, CEO of Lovelife said, “the youth should become the change they want to see in their communities.Young people are responsible for the greatest changes in the world…”
Activate! is a network of young leaders equipped to drive change for the public good across South Africa. If you’re interested in being an Activator, apply for training on their website or call them on 087 820 4873.
Follow them on twitter @ActivateZA