Plight of black youth rooted in history

By Siyabonga Hadebe

Barely a day passes without coming across a black graduate on social media and or at a busy intersection bearing a placard that highlights their  plight as ‘unemployable’ in a labour market that shows great bias against the black child.

To understand why the black youth are neglected, one has to dig deep into history to make assumptions about the present.

Reacting to the Carnegie Corporation’s 1932 study,   titled ‘The poor    white problem in South  Africa:  Report of  the  Carnegie Commission’, its president Frederick Keppel commented that there was “little doubt that if the bantu were given full economic opportunity, the more competent among them would soon outstrip the less competent  whites”.

Though this study was published nearly 90 years ago, job reservation is still rife in South Africa to protect those of a lighter hue and pigmentation.

Besides many other historical and structural issues facing the South African economy, job reservation to cushion the white race from competition is still rife in the labour market.

The DA’s ambivalence in matters of race sums up what the white minority thinks about matters of social justice.

Generally speaking, there is a concerted effort to religiously maintain the recommendations of the Carnegie Corporation’s study to save the white race from poverty, while the black majority retains its status as excess labour that must be kept in native reserves, for example rural areas, hostels, townships and informal settlements.

It is a great travesty that the black intelligentsia, decision-makers and influencers would rather skate the ice instead of speaking openly about reasons for the mess blacks  continue to find themselves in. The Stats SA report in June indicates that unemployment among the black African population group “remains higher than the national average and other population groups”.

Institutions that should be advocating for youth emancipation such as the National Youth Development Agency are part of the unending political game where quasi-politicians occupy airconditioned offices in Woodmead.

The ‘youth agenda’ is on everyone’s lips yet unemployment continues to climb.

Undeniably, the competent among the natives in South Africa are eliminated through supposed labour market asymmetries to keep them unemployed and destitute.

The young black graduates have become a humanitarian case for those with crocodile tears  – the “good  Samaritans”.

The truth is black youth need affirmation and to be treated with dignity, and not handouts.


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