Nurture our youth to believe in our country

THE country has just celebrated Freedom Day and everyone seems to have a different understanding of this day.

THE country has just celebrated Freedom Day and everyone seems to have a different understanding of this day.

It's often difficult for our youth to really comprehend the struggles and hardships their parents and grandparents faced. I talk from experience because my parents came to South Africa from Germany in the 1930's, having had to flee the Nazi regime.

Because I was so involved in my own life, I did not really have time to pick up on all the family history from my parents before they died. Now the history is lost to me.

I recently had a fascinating discussion with an Israeli citizen who has been living there for more than 40 years. He said their youth simply do not feel the same way about army conscription as those in bygone years. This does not mean they are unpatriotic, but they just want to get on with their lives, travel, study and start achieving as youngsters do worldwide.

The challenge is to keep our skilled and educated children in this country.

Recently, teenager Zakithi Mshololo told the press that when she finishes school, she is getting as far away from South Africa as she can.

Statistics reflect that almost half of middle-class black teens plan to leave the country for what they believe are greener pastures. This disturbing fact reminds me of the late 80s when, after the Rubicon speech, many of my clients left South Africa.

The brain drain was disastrous. What's even more upsetting is that so many South Africans who achieved significantly while working abroad could have done so much for our country had they stayed.

It's not about creed or colour. We need quality people to develop industries and create employment. And the overall concern relating to unscrupulous politicians - escalating crime, poor employment prospects and low education standards -needs to be addressed immediately.

On Freedom Day, on a radio phone-in programme, a white caller asked two black radio guests who were discussing black empowerment, employment and education, a simple question. He asked: "Do you want the whites to stay?" - to which they couldn't give a straight answer.

I was saddened when I recently Googled Heroes, a programme directed by Matt Ogens and produced by CNN because this was another real-life situation about a successful South African leaving our shores. One of the producers was Justine Smollan, an ex-South African who felt that in order to further her career she had to leave her country of birth six years ago.

Why did she feel that she could not achieve her goals and dreams of producing worldwide films and commercials here? The remarkable work in which this young lady has been involved could have been beneficial to South Africa had she remained and realised that working with South Africans has its own merits and opportunities.

We need to nurture the youth of our country in a positive and meaningful way so they can contribute to the future and, more importantly, so that they believe there is a future for them in this country.

lThe writer is financial adviser of Bryan Hirsch Colley and Associates. Email or telephone 011-880-4888.