During the last few years there has been an increase in the number of young people taking on leadership roles in their communities. This new leadership is opinionated and vocal about not only the youth’s needs but those of their respective communities as well; it is bringing together youth and mobilising them so that they become a strong cohesive unit.
Some have said that the youth of today are not able to lead because they are caught in between Apartheid, an era they never experienced and a Democracy that has promised them many things, but under delivered on these promises. Is it then fair to say that young people are feeling cheated and are looking for a leader that will be able and fit to stand for them and address issues on their behalf?
German Jacobs, a member of the ACTIVATE! network shared his thoughts on how ready the youth are to take up leadership roles, “With about 22 years of democracy I honestly think the youth leaders are aware of the challenges faced by the youth. Unemployment has been on the table for decades now. Education has been a key point for decades now as well, I feel they are equipped.”
A member of the ACTIVATE! network, Rudzani Mofamate, opposes this statement, “Very few youth leaders have carried the mandate of the developmental stake.” Had this been prioritised the country’s youth would not be feeling the way they are, leaders have disappointed them and have not taken their leadership roles seriously.
Kanyisa Booi, an Activator as well had a different sentiment to share, “Young people understand what their challenges are, and they also have ideas on how to change things for the better. The limitation is access to resources and the value of guidance from those who have walked the path before them. We cannot discount the value of experience, now this speaks to intergenerational strategy and the intentionality of current leadership to leave a progressive legacy.”
South Africa has seen a number of youth leadership come and go due to experiences not being shared, if their predecessors had shared their experiences with current leadership they would have been better prepared to confront the challenges that South Africa now faces. But South Africa’s democracy is a growing democracy; young people are reworking their leadership style to ensure that they serve their followers well. We now see youth leadership engaging with citizens on social issues at various levels through initiatives that have been planned and implemented by them. From what we seeing the younger generation is making sure that they are able to serve their people well by bringing new skills to their municipalities and ensuring that their communities are developed. This is the kind of leadership the country needs to move forward. In the coming years South Africa needs to become a country that embraces the youth.
Rudzani further adds, “I would like to see young people being involved in political organisations taking leadership and also be the centre for economic development in the country being councillors in our communities, “Rudzani shares. As a country we need youth leadership it is key to our economic growth, the youth are the people driving innovation, more doors should be opened up to accommodate young people.
German urges the youth to ask themselves, ’ARE WE READY? If the answer is yes, ‘DO WE WANT A CHANCE?’ I am sure we, as the youth will gladly jump for the opportunity and prove that we are hungry for the opportunity as we continue asking the most critical and pivotal question HOW DO WE EAT?” With the change of time it is becoming clear that it is the time of the youth, and their leadership is what is needed to unearth a new and better equipped South Africa.