InSA

Youth Day ~ 16 June 2017

Today, let’s focus on our sameness

The beauty of us, South Africa’s youth, is that we do not only dream about our better future. We have the relentless passion for executing it.

Sitting all alone in the newly renovated Food Court in Menlyn, I experience a sense of companionship. I shamelessly stare at the youth around me, to try and make sense of this curious feeling.

Nobody looks the same. A couple of guys with flat caps and sneakers are sneaking peeks at a table of ladies all dressed in winter boots and ponchos. With bright lipstick and bling, they are selfie-ready. Half-way upright in their chairs, school boys are competing in a serious fidget competition. From far away, they fit into the status- quo, but a closer scrutinising reveals that they are beautifully unique.

In the left corner, I hear a loud pop of bubble gum and a roar of laughter. As two girls are walking past me, I listen to the serious conversation about forgetting sanitary utilities at home. Oblivious about the girls’ panic, the guys are animatedly debating Bafana Bafana’s game against Zambia last weekend. Like clockwork the discussion dies down…everyone is scanning their phones…before the debate erupts again like a gun shot.

Perhaps a German Shephard can make sense of all the smells, but I certainly can’t. A group of students are sitting around a table, feasting on KFC Zinger Wings, Debonair Club Subs, Burger King Whoppers and washing it down with a rainbow of Smooch milkshakes. After confidently perusing their different tastes, hunger called them together in unifying primal need.

And then I looked deeper into the windows of the youths’ souls. Deep inside, I see the despair of a breakup, the excitement of the approaching holiday, the mounting exam stress, the longing to belong, the hidden scars of domestic abuse, the giddiness of being in love. And there, right in my heart, I feel the companionship. Not one of us is exempt from life: its highest highs and its lowest lows. But our common denominator is our dream for a better future.

The beauty of us, South Africa’s youth, is that we do not only dream about our better future. We have the relentless passion for executing it. We have the quiet determination to ask for help when we are stuck. We formidably stand up for diversity. We have unshakeable hope for our country. And we bask in the lingering presence of a giant. Madiba said: “It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”