Youth must participate in politics

Benzi ka-Soko

Benzi ka-Soko

There has been a notable yet disturbing lull of political inclination among the youth of South Africa since the dawn of democracy in 1994. Apparently this is a result of the notion that since we defeated apartheid, there was no need for the youth to be politically conscious.

This disinterest has led to negative dynamics that include worrying and shocking youth indulgence in drugs and alcoholism, preoccupation with and idolisation of materialism, over-indulgence in get-rich-quick schemes, prioritisation of employment over education, youth criminality, corruptibility and all other socio-economic maladies that come as a result of the pressing quest to acquire wealth at all costs.

The current economic and political system encourages all people across the spectrum to become rich by hook or by crook. Seldom are people encouraged to work harder to accumulate wealth and are not inspired to acquire education, skills and experience to land high-paying jobs in the open labour market.

Parents go the extra mile to ensure their children receive the best education. A few good Samaritans have emerged and helped students from poor families with no means to survive, not to mention the exorbitant fees needed for a four-year degree course.

The clergy are also playing a contributory role in ensuring that they produce religious leaders who continue to serve as a living conscience for the nation. The welcome role played by the likes of Archbishops Desmond Tutu and Njongonkulu Ndungane has helped this country to continue to maintain its human face.

But it is equally true that the current system also breeds the culture of survival of the fittest. The fact that higher education is hugely expensive feeds into the notion that if you do not have money you cannot have education.

Consequently, children from poor working class communities are largely uneducated. Some of these children later become active in the economy of the country but with no skills, no education and no sophistication to be compliant with the hi-tech nature of the 21st century's economic super structure.

It means these children become what Frantz Fanon called "the wretched of the earth" - sweepers, garbage removers, diggers, gardeners, domestics and so on.

Others become beggars: the shameful face of South Africa. Others end up being hard-core criminals who terrorise us in our high-walled houses and golf estates.

This is an ugly picture of our youth in this country. We surely cannot allow this rot to overwhelm us. We need to go back to the basics of proper political education.

Youth leadership, integrity and sobriety of political thought cannot be overshadowed by the insatiable quest for money. We need young political leaders who should fervently preach the gospel of integrity, leadership morality, leadership decency, respect, humility and other good traits associated with responsible leadership.

Otherwise this great country will definitely go to the dogs. The youth is the future.

lKa-Soko is an independent political commentator