Youth such as these make all South Africans proud

Amid all the gloom of the past few weeks and maybe months, I was inspired this week.

Amid all the gloom of the past few weeks and maybe months, I was inspired this week.

As this is Youth Month, June 16 on Monday was therefore the climax of its observance.

I must stress at the beginning that I was heartened - which is very rare - by the SABC in two ways.

Accolades go to Noleen Maholwana-Sangqu, the affable host of 3Talk on SABC3, and to Vuyo Mbuli's interview with young Lerato Mahloane on Morning Live on Tuesday.

Maholwana-Sangqu interviewed no fewer than five young achievers. I was impressed because none of them was older than 30.

She interviewed a 24-year-old man who started his first company when he was just 18. He now owns two.

Then there were two 20-something women, Marang Setshwaelo and Phindile Mkhabela, who started a clothing boutique about five years ago.

Ernest Kekana's meteoric rise to the top is spellbinding. A pilot with 11 years experience, he now owns an aviation company.

Until I saw him on 3Talk I had no inkling that a black person, let alone a young man, could venture into what is traditionally the white man's enclave - owning aircraft.

But kudos goes to Mahloane. She is aged only 22, but owns a thriving second-hand car dealership.

I could not believe it when the petite young woman said she began her business at age 20.

Mahloane oozed confidence as she said: "I grew up with my brother while living with my mother in an informal settlement. I wanted to get out of there because there was no running water and electricity. Now I have both."

She knows what she is doing and says no one dares take her for granted in what is regarded as a man's terrain.

I chose these enterprising young people as a pointer. All of them come from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Norman Vincent Peale puts it aptly when he writes: "Enthusiasm releases the drive to carry you over obstacles and adds significance to all you do."

Obviously this simply translates to mean it takes adversity to inspire one to greater heights.

I have heard of young people who started small and ended great. Some did what was regarded as lowly jobs and turned them into great empires.

Only at the weekend I read an inspiring news feature about a young man who started with a bucket, a brush and polish. Today he employs more than 12 people at his car wash.

His clients are the typical BEE beneficiaries who live in the suburbs. This should serve as a lesson about perseverance in the face of calamity.

It is a message to young people who feel desolate; the young black men who hang around aimlessly on street corners or under the verandahs of township shops.

It is talking to the black young women who regard the lessons of life by their grandmothers as obsolete and sell their bodies in the cities to escape poverty.

If Mahloane can escape the squatter camp, so can anyone else.

If an 18-year-old can open a company so can his suburban counterpart who demands a car from his parents.