Owning our struggle 23 years later

41 years ago the young people took to the dusty streets of Soweto to demand an end to the unjust Bantu Education system and the oppression of a Black child in the country of his own birth. There the oppressors opened fire and many lost their lives while all they were fighting for was a just system and the creation of the South Africa of their aspirations.

41 years later the new battle has begun with the same spirit of stone and fire, this new war will be defeated when the young people of our country use the same energy and spirit to fight our present day struggles and battles, the struggle of inequality, poverty and underdevelopment, and the struggle of a commercialised educational system that has been commercialised at the expense of the masses of our people. At times like these the thought provoking question when education is commercialised that we ask ourselves is that: is education still the most powerful weapon regarded as human right that can be used to change the world, or is it the 21st century commodity which has led to the formation of multi-nationals in the fields of education to amass large amounts of profits while those who can’t afford end up suffering from financial exclusion.

The annual June 16 commemorations should enable us young people to redefine our generational obligation as Frantz Fanon urged us, and the best way to fulfil it is to become true to the cause and to remain focused until we have defeated the struggle. South Africa and the African continent needs young lions who will roar fearlessly and who will be shaken by whatever life throws at them.

South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and one of the best solutions to this trajectory is to create a stable labour market that will create stable jobs and one that will absorb job seekers, this requires a strong consistent Private Public Partnership between government, corporate South Africa and civil society to invest in the labour market South Africa, the same way government invests in education is the same way government must invest in job creation, the same way corporate SA maximises profits and sales is the very same way it must invest in creating quality permanent jobs, the very same civil society organizations that maximise their impact in developing communities through the grants and donations that you acquire should also include job creation as one of their community development endeavours.

The second challenge that we face as young people is that of low entrepreneurship levels in South Africa, this being despite the fact that South Africa has as a youthful population, yet it has the lowest entrepreneurship levels in the world according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, yet many young entrepreneurs are faced with the challenges of access to funding, access to markets, access to networks and building of stronger customer relationships. Above all we need a strong and vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem that will strengthen and enhance the growth of entrepreneurs, funding is not a problem but all that entrepreneurs need is access to markets and exposure that will enable them to tap into markets and get clientele and to eventually to get profits.

Above all we need to own and champion our struggle, the struggle against commercialised and colonised education, this struggle will not be achieved by burning roads and facilities but by massing knowledge and organising ourselves to fight the challenges that we are facing as young people.

Kwame Toure, one of the founders of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party once said: “Organisation is stronger than Mobilisation, because organisation builds consciousness while mobilisation builds numbers.” As we strengthen our fights against the challenges of inequality, poverty, unemployment and inequality and also poor entrepreneurship participation, and above all fighting against the colonised and commodified educational system, and strive to create an educational system that addresses the gap and disconnect between schooling, varsity or college graduation and entering the job market. To do that that requires that we become organised and conscious, that’s the best way to defeat the struggle.

Through consciousness and organisation is the best way to also create strong vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem that will build and strengthen the entrepreneurship development amongst youth led businesses and to eventually create jobs and fight inequality.

As we celebrate Youth Month, we must be mindful that the future and greatness of South Africa and the African continent is meaningless unless its linked up to the total empowerment and development of young people. All that will be achieved only if we own our struggle and champion it and stay true to it.

Photo credit: Babak Fakhamzadeh