Johannesburg – It’s been a strange and heart-breaking couple of months, to say the least.
We’ve witnessed unimaginable pain and data that suggest young people have fallen into despair. In equal measure, we’ve seen the resilience of youth emerge from the long night empowered and determined to be of service to SA and her children.
This is what the recipients of Sunday World 2021 Unsung Heroes demonstrate.
These are young people who have decided that they are not only the future but the present.
Their life stories, different as they may be, culminate in one overriding characteristic; the stubborn refusal to not matter.
The sense one got in the presence of this militant youth is that we can no longer promote the cliché that youth merely represent the leaders or workers of the future.
In reality, young people are a force to be reckoned with and continue to raise uncomfortable truths in environments where adults continue to be the silent majority.
It is exciting to see young people stepping up, taking ownership and initiating change in their communities.
When young people display a sense of duty to South Africa and her people, that should be acknowledged and applauded.
Sunday World’s Unsung Heroes gave us an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream their voices, actions and initiatives.
Dr Athambile Masola, the keynote speaker on the day, illustrated the value of young people to a changing society, sometimes hostile to their dreams.
“As young people living in the immediate aftermath of a brutal history daring to dream is a political act. “Daring to dream is spiritual warfare. Daring to dream is the beginning of redefining our future on our terms. In the same way that our ancestors built institutions in order to resist dispossession, we too owe it to the generation who will come after us to build institutions in order to foster our freedom.”
The challenges faced by the youth of this country seem insurmountable. Youth unemployment is sitting at a staggering 74.7%, with many risking falling into the “lost generation” category.
However, if we summon the spirit of the unsung heroes we celebrated, a lot can be achieved in the advancement of the youth agenda.
Young people should be the driving force to criticise systemic corruption, inequality and the pernicious dissolution of human decency.