A FARMER was selling his watermelons on the pavement in front of his farm.

A FARMER was selling his watermelons on the pavement in front of his farm.

It was nearly sundown. A young boy passed, stopped and asked: "Excuse me, sir, but can you tell me how much the watermelons cost?"

The farmer replied: "Ten rand." Then the boy asked: "And how much are the ones in the field?" "One rand each," the farmer replied.

Then, the boy handed R1 to the farmer and said: "I'll fetch it when it's ripe."

Youth is like that watermelon. We are still ripening in the field. The hard skin is our selfishness. The red flesh has the potential to be sweet and sustaining, or is likely to rot, depending on our choices; and, the seeds are our future.

As children, we all have dreams and ideals we wish to turn into reality. But do we always succeed or do we give up at the first hurdle we encounter on our path? What defines success?

Our surnames? Our parents' bank accounts? Getting a R10 watermelon for one rand? Or...? In my view, success is when you try and, even if you don't succeed the first time, you keep trying till you succeed in whatever you have taken on. Success like that watermelon needs patience to ripen.

During the 2009 national elections, I found myself wondering why people make such a big fuss over it? I mean, they're just electing a new president. It's not going to affect me. Then I asked my mother about it, and she said: "For some adults it may not mean much, but to you - as a part of the youth - it could mean the difference between a bright or a dark future, as the leaders we choose today are going to determine what kind of future we have."

I must understand the world I live in, in order to make wise choices. The future is in our hands, whether the core of the melon is sweet, or it turns out rotten. If we can stay grounded.

Just as those watermelons that were not yet ripe, we aren't ripe. There is nothing wrong with delaying your growth because the longer you wait, the sweeter it gets. You and your watermelon field might one day even sustain this nation of ours.

lThis is an edited motivational piece by Shanice Titus, the Northern Cape finalist in the 2009 Sowetan and Anglo American Young Communicators Awards. For her full message and those of the eight other finalists, visit www.sowetan.co.za.