JUNE 16TH: YOUTH DAY. AFRICANS ARE NOW THEIR OWN ENEMIES 46 YEARS LATER AFTER THE SOWETO REVOLUTION.
“The class of 1976 bravely took to the streets and overturned the whole notion that workers were the only essential force to challenge the apartheid regime. Indeed, they succeeded where their parents had failed. They not only occupied city centers but also closed schools and alcohol outlets.”
June 16th, Youth Day in South Africa, is a national holiday that
honors all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against Apartheid and Bantu Education. It is estimated that over 700 pupils lost their lives then, when police fired live bullets at them, during protests that led to the liberation of South Africa from inequality and white supremacy.
It is also the same day 3 years ago that Hong Kong made history by marching 2 million people in protest against the Extradition Bill. History serves us that, it is in critical moments that young men and women have taken it upon themselves to solve complex matters in society.
46 years later, the Soweto uprising, is still a force to reckon with if the liberation of Africa is anything to go by. However, a close look and Africa still struggles with the same problems ever since. Inequality, unemployment, and bad leadership have made the young become intolerant, resentful, and hopeless.
Nevertheless, young people these days, seem not to understand the great power they possess. The youth are no longer joining hands in zeal and will, to make a change in their world. They have turned into a cohort of whiners, screaming at the darkness, instead of lighting a candle.
In South Africa, for instance, the current vigilante activities in driving away foreigners, has put the country in a very intolerant position and is seen as one of the most unequal countries in the world. Are Africans on the verge of destroying each other, after successfully driving the white man away? Are we becoming our own enemy?
Recently, the youth there, through operation Dudula (Meaning “force out” in Zulu), are complaining that immigrants are taking up their jobs. Is it true? Well, yes. Is it bad? Yes and no. It is bad for a nation to reserve jobs for foreigners, yet the country suffers a 35% rate of unemployment. However, the inter-nation labor force is a diverse force that brings about great development, if done with the right structures and policies.
This is the same narrative here in Kenya, with many young people always complaining about foreigners taking up their jobs, and a good example is the Somalis, who have heavily invested in the Kenyan economy.
These xenophobic tendencies are only a result of desperation and resentment. Competition for jobs, especially in low-skilled sectors, is also a factor in sharpening anti-immigrant resentment.
However, scapegoating migrants for poor service delivery, unemployment and crime could only spark xenophobia and violence and not bring any solution.
The youthful generation has a critical role to play in the development of any country. Whenever the young come together for a good course, the results are always revolutionary.
Through the African Union, proper inter-country policies and structures must be expeditiously developed across the African continent to alleviate this looming crisis. Africans need to sit down together and tackle this unemployment crisis once and for all. We must work together as a continent.
“Every generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it, in relative opacity.”
Young people, it is time for another revolution, we must come together and shape our continent.