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the youth must now reclaim the streets

By Ido Lekota | Mar 11, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WHEN I heard of the crash in which hip-hop artist Jub Jub was involved, that led to the death of four pupils, scenes from the movie The Fast and Furious came to my mind.

WHEN I heard of the crash in which hip-hop artist Jub Jub was involved, that led to the death of four pupils, scenes from the movie The Fast and Furious came to my mind.

For the uninitiated, the movie is about American youths who engage in drag racing using their souped-up cars.

Middle-class youth in America engage in drag racing in their high-powered expensive toys. So do young South Africans, I thought.

Police reports revealed that Jub Jub, was "dicing" (a form of drag racing where two drivers compete on a public road) with a friend in their souped-up Mini Coopers.

Behavioural scientists will argue that in doing so the two were actually acting out the effects of the culture of crass materialism that has pervaded South African society.

Wikipedia says one of the effects of crass materialism is that it promotes the idolatry of material wealth or things.

It also promotes selfishness and the adoption of prescribed behaviour, even behaviour that hurts one's best interests.

In this globalised world, crass materialism also promotes a mono-culture that is based on conspicuous consumption, hence the public display of expensive toys in the streets.

As a rap singer, Jub Jub has become a celebrity who - for his less fortunate contemporaries in the ghettoes - epitomises the breaking down of economic barriers by black youth.

But as behavioural scientists have articulated, he has also come to epitomise what crass materialism can do to the youth.

Such youngsters have become insensitive, selfish and coarse, with very little regard for what the public and those who look up to him feel. (Hence Jub Jub's alleged statement at the accident scene that he is untouchable because he has good lawyers.)

This is the essence of crass materialism and its corrosive effect on the youth today.

And what does our youth do about it? They stand by the road side and applaud what the likes of Jub Jub do, because they aspire to be like them.

They also want to drive souped-up cars and flaunt their material possessions for the public to see.

To break this vicious circle, the youth of this country must stand up and say: "This is not the freedom that generations before us , led by leaders such as Tsietsi Mashinini and Trofomo Sono fought for."

They must also say that they will not allow so-called role models to disparage their ideals of economic emancipation by engaging in self-destructive behaviour.

"They cannot do all these in our name as the South African youth that continues to suffer economic marginalisation and live in abject poverty."

The South African youth have a history of being the storm troopers of the struggle for change in this country.

In 1976 they took on the apartheid killing machine armed only with stones and the desire to have a better education and a better life for all.

Their actions became a turning point for the struggle for liberation in this country.

In the 1980s they were at the forefront of ensuring that the crippling consumer boycotts were sustained.

All that they need is to shed the cloak of apathy that has enveloped them post-1994.

They must go out there and reclaim the streets like those before them did when they formed street committees to fight crime and mobilise communities against apartheid.

The first step that they can take is to stop applauding those who "dice' in the streets of their ghettoes - endangering the lives of innocent children.

The "fluits" ( whistles) of encouragement we normally hear whenever the likes of Jub Jub "dice" in the dusty township streets must stop, immediately.


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