By: Kay-Dee Mashile, Kim Barlow and Anele Gcwabe
This Youth Month, ACTIVATE! Change Drivers (@ActivateZA) has launched a campaign where we explore how youth in South Africa and particularly in the ACTIVATE! Network are empowered through sustainable means. This goes beyond self-employment and looks at innovative solutions in order to empower other youth and pay it forward.
A post has been trending on social media lately urging people to wear graduation gowns instead of school uniform this June 16 because, they reckon, “Hector Peterson would like to see progress.” This begs the question of whether or not there has been much progress in the 43 years since 1976. Are the youth of today empowered by the actions and decisions of the youth of ‘76?
Activator Candice Collocot explicitly expressed the need for us, the youth of 2019, to come to a place where we walk away from the past and build our own legacy. This means that we should take the lessons of courage, will power and activism from the experience of the youth of ‘76 and use that to challenge our own struggles and solve the problems we have today. Young people have been increasingly asking to be allowed the freedom to stop living under the shadow of the youth of ‘76 so we can shine forth the wealth of knowledge and courage that exists within the current generation. Granted, we didn’t just wake up like this, we are because they were. Those young people are the men and women who raised us, they are our parents and their wisdom is the foundation on which our knowledge is built. In simple terms, it is the Soweto Upraising generation that birthed the #FeesMustFall generation.
Therefore, in 2019, we choose to focus on the lessons that have empowered us to become the active citizens we are instead of wallowing in the sorrow of the tragedy they experienced.
Throughout Youth Month, we explore the theme of #Empowered2Empower which focuses on how the youth of 2019 are empowered and how this empowerment can lead to a paying it forward movement where young people empower other young people. In addition, we will showcase empowered youth from the Heroes Book who have taken small proactive steps to make big changes in their communities.
In the words of an Activator, “our role models (heroes) are no longer older people but ratheer the young people in our own circles.”