Posted on June 22, 2017
'To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime, is largely irrelevant. What we must do therefore is to strive and persevere and never give up.' — Dalai Lama XIV
The youth throughout history have been tirelessly striving for both socio-political and socio-economic change. The month of June is dedicated to the youth of South Africa and is centred on the 16 June 1976 uprising that started in Soweto and remains one of the great changers of the socio-political landscape in the country. Frantz Fanon, psychiatrist, revolutionary, philosopher and author said that 'each generation must discover its mission, fulfil it or betray it, in relative opacity.' The youth of 1976 found their mission and sacrificially fulfilled it.
But what is the mission of the youth today, and what is preventing them from fulfilling it? At grassroots level, the youth are facing individual challenges that they have to overcome in order to tackle the socio-political and socio-economic challenges we are facing today. Nineteen-year-old University of Pretoria (UP) graduate Quintine Mkhondo was a guest speaker at the Youth Day commemoration event titled 'My challenges made me stronger!' that was presented by the Department of Library Services in the Merensky 2 Library on the Hatfield Campus earlier this month. He emphasised the words of the Dalai Lama XIV, 'strive, preserve and never give up.' His talk inspired students to dream big, to set goals, and to have a mission and a vision. Not only should they have all these aspirations, but they also need to fulfil them.
Florence Skosana, a BA Hons Public Administration and Management student at UP, said that she relates to what Quintine talked about, 'I went through more or less the same challenges as him with regards to securing a bursary and I also failed a module that prolonged my studies, but I was not willing to give up,' she said. Florence explained that the youth should never allow their challenges to define who they are, 'everyone goes through difficult times and I feel that, as students, we like playing the victim. This needs to stop'. Florence believes that one can get through anything and that youths like Quintine are proof that perseverance can lead to that longed-for dream.
What struck second-year BA Political Sciences student, Tlholohelo Joy Green the most, was Quintine's message of consistency and not being complaisant. 'Today's success doesn't guarantee that tomorrow will be easy. You are only as good as your last show and succeeding today might not carry you through in life,' she added. What also struck Tlholohelo was the role of mentorship for the youth. 'It grounds and reminds you of why you started the journey in the first place,' she said.
Third-year Industrial Engineering student, Angelika Buhrow, said that for her Quintine's words sparked a sense of introspection, 'I am going to look at where I have failed, or rather where I didn't apply myself fully, and work on that. Also, the most important thing I learned from his talk is to never give up, failure is certain but one needs to rise and try again until you reach your goal,' she said.
These students, and Quintine, share their unwillingness to give up. This Youth Month we ought to be inspired and see our hopes rekindled, because young people at UP are determined to tackle challenges confronting them in order to reach for their dreams. This will feed into the greater mission of improving the socio-political and socio-economic landscape of SA.
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