Young people urged to be agents of change

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Young people have been urged to rise up and defend South Africa’s democracy, while also effecting change in their communities.

“We, as the youth, need to rise up and defend democracy. We have a purpose to fulfil. We must decolonise our State, minds and live up to the democracy that was died for,” said Zulaikha Patel on Sunday. 

Patel, who fought against discriminatory hair policies at her school in August 2016, reminded the youth that many people died in the struggle for democracy that South Africans enjoy today. 

Dressed in red and sporting her famous afro, Patel urged the youth to take up the baton of the youth of yesteryear. She said the likes of struggle hero Solomon Mahlangu did not die in vain.

“He did not die for nothing,” she said of the 23-year-old, who was executed in 1979.  

Patel was speaking as the world today commemorates International Youth Day.  The day is designated by the United Nations and draws attention to cultural and legal issues surrounding the youth.  

She was at the inter-generational dialogue set up by the Department of Women, Charlotte Mannya-Maxeke Institute (CMMI) and the National Heritage Council (NHC) at Freedom Park in Pretoria. 

The teenager called on the youth to address issues like racism and sexism. 

“We need to be the change to address sexism. We need to stop accepting [it] and start changing [it]. We need to rise up and command our space in society. We need to push our continent forward.”

Patel called on South African youth to know and recognise their identity. 

“We have forgotten our identity,” she said, urging youth to stop focusing on social media and instead roll up their sleeves and move the country forward. 

Also speaking at the dialogues, Leroy Tau urged men to learn to own their emotions. 

“We need to learn to own our emotions and who we are. This is not a competition between men and women. We ought to learn to complement one another,” he said.

Tau’s comments come following the funeral of Rhodes University student Khensani Maseko, who committed suicide after being raped.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Heritage Council (NHC) urged communities to retain the spirit of Ubuntu, referring to struggle heroine Charlotte Maxeke as an example of someone who embodied ubuntu.

Minister of Women Bathabile Dlamini was among those who attended Sunday's session. -