Activists speak

by Jul 11, 2012Magazine

activists-speakAmandla! interviewed 3 youth activists on the meaning of June 16th Mntuwoxolo Ngudle, student at CPUT. YCL / ANCYL / ANC / SACP / SASCO Peter Tsholo, Free State. Progressive Youth Movement Wendy Tsotetsi, Gauteng, Youth Agricultural Ambassadors (YAA), ANC
Amandla! (A!): What is the meaning of June 16th for you?
Mntuwoxolo (M): June 16Th is one of the significant dates of the struggle for young people because it was resistance to the indoctrination by Afrikaans. Afrikaans is just a mixture of languages and not our own to use. By using their own languages, young revolutionaries kept their identities ­ the identity of their nation. Peter (P): The meaning To me is how young people got into the revolutionary struggle against an oppressive apartheid government. It demonstrates that when there is a struggle with young energies much can achieved and trajectories can change for the better. 
Wendy (W): The meaning of June 16th in my understanding is that we have to celebrate the successful struggle of the youth. We have to make sure that the youth can develop safely today. A!: What is it like to be young in SA today? What inspires and challenges you? M: poor qualiTy educaTion is The first challenge. It creates a lot of problems.
A!: What is it like to be young in SA today? What inspires and challenges you?
M: Poor quality education is the first challenge. It creates a lot of problems. The governmental educational system demands much fighting. South Africa is a democracy and we should all be free. But us young black Africans, we’re not free, and this inspires our political work. Poor education means you have to work in low-paid jobs and the offspring of the poor black working class will continue to be poor. This problem does not end; it’s the same at each generation.
P: Being young in SA  today is very difficult. There are many challenges like poverty, unemployment, and drug and alcohol abuse. One of our biggest challenges for me is finding a way to get young people involved in the betterment of society. It is paramount that as young people we are involved in the struggles of today. Because of our dynamic constitution, an opportunity is created to mobilize people and put them at the centre of the developmental agenda.
W: To Be young in sa now is stressful because there is no development. Yes, there are organizations like ANCYL, but those ones are not in need, because the youth of SA is still not a part of the political agenda.
A!: What were the Soweto students fighting for back then? How does it compare to your activism today?
M: We are very strongly linked. The 1976-generation fought against indoctrination. Our struggle is very much alike because we struggle with issues of the production and ownership of knowledge. We fight for more alternatives to be created. History has showed us that good education is only for the minority. Capitalism is just the reproduction and overproduction of the rich against the working class, and the poor have to work for this system to change.
P: 1976 was about attainment of qualitative Afrocentric education and about removing the oppression of our people thereby ensuring our emancipation. The struggle of today is about protecting our basic human rights. It is about involving ourselves in our own development and protecting the interests of our development; making ourselves the principal custodians. Young people have ordinary rights and the wishes to be involved in the meaningful running of our country. And this is what the struggle is all about ­ involvement and intellectual capacitation.
W: It was a struggle about education and the education of today is very bad. I would say it was even better back then. Today we have a very poor educational system especially for the black youth. In 1976, they struggled and they achieved. But today we are suffering even more. The more the youth grows, the bigger the struggle gets. Today, many young people don’t finish school, so they are not working. If you add drug abuse, alcohol, etc. you can see that they are losing their childhood. And the government does nothing about it. The president does nothing for the youth. And this becomes the challenge: how to do something for yourself? We get immediately disappointed and lose hope, lose dignity. But someone has to start. We have to get people together. And 100 can motivate another 200, this is how we are growing the movement to help ourselves.
A!: How do you see yourself in 10 years? What are your hopes for the future?
M: in 10 years i will definiTely noT work for a private company or transnational company because the efforts I will put into production and the profits will all go into the pockets of the rich. I want to become Minister of Minerals and Energy. So I can actually change something. That is what I want to be in 10 years time. But in the further future I want to lead the country as president.
P: I’m hopeful. This situation is difficult at the moment due to unemployment and other challenges facing young people. But I’m hopeful this will change. We have to mobilize, bring people together here in Africa and rally them around a vision of being drivers of our own destiny. Hopefully we can achieve eternal prosperity!
W: In 10 years I will run my own business. I also want to teach young people in schools about agriculture, especially young women. I want to bring young people together and develop a community. I want to show them that even if you are poor you can do something with and for the community. I want to open a foundation.
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