by Kaylinn Oostendorp
#YouthDay – Forty years ago, high school learners from all over Soweto decided to march against Afrikaans being used as a medium of instruction.
But today, young people have different struggles. When I wake up in the morning, my first thoughts are. What on earth is going to happen in South Africa today? What shocking news will I hear when I switch on the television for the 7 o’ clock news? What will I read in the daily newspaper?
Forty years ago there was a student uprising against Afrikaans being used as a medium of instruction in schools where learners were not fluent in the language. But what are the struggles that today’s youth are facing?
People died in the fight against apartheid and for the rights of people, but are we really better off today? Of course we have free education, free healthcare, financial support at learning institutions and social grants for children to name a few.
But there are other struggles today such as crime, drug abuse, rape, corruption and unemployment.
A lot of our youth are struggling with insecurities: Will I be able to go study after matric? Will I have a good job one day and, most of all, will I be safe wherever the future might take me?
Black or white
I am a coloured girl from a middle class family. My parents earn just enough to provide for our primary needs. Will I get financial support for further studies because there are always criteria to be met?
We are too “poor” to pay for the studies all by ourselves, but too “rich” to qualify as financially underprivileged.
In the apartheid years you were either black or white. We as coloureds were classified as black and were part of the struggle against the apartheid government. We as coloureds were not White enough then and now we are not black enough.
At some companies it is all about who you know, not who you are and what your qualifications are. Sometimes it is as clear as daylight how nepotism is the order of the day.
Another struggle is drug abuse and the crime it leads to. Children abusing drugs become younger by the day and they end up hardened criminals. A life is worth nothing to them and they will murder just for the next fix. There is no more fear for prisons.
To take a life is nothing because the death penalty does not exist anymore. Murderers, rapists and thieves are walking freely in our community because of our justice system failing victims over and over. Either there is a lack of evidence or they are out on parole after just a few years behind bars.
Peaceful marches do not exist anymore. Violence always plays a role. Buildings and vehicles are set alight, innocent people or entrepreneurs are robbed or assaulted. At universities, technology and buildings are burnt down. This costs the government millions of rands which could have been used for housing or financial support to more students.
Felt safe with Mandela
We get free healthcare, but clinics and hospitals are overcrowded. State hospitals are sometimes in very bad and unhygienic conditions. To be a doctor is no longer a calling, but rather a status, because nowadays they often don’t even do a proper examination during a consultation.
There are always shortages of medicine and buying from pharmacies has become unaffordable.
Social grants are available for children but do they really benefit? “AllPay” day is total chaos because the grants are spent at liquor stores and shebeens. I think social grants are being misused and that a lot of people do not deserve to get support from taxpayers’ money.
Our youth live with insecurities over many things. We ask ourselves: Are we going to have a good job in order to secure a future for our children? Will we grow old enough to see our children succeed or will we end up just another victim of crime? Will there be a future for our children in South Africa?
I felt safe when President Nelson Mandela was still alive. It was as if his presence brought hope and peace over the nation. Now only time will tell what the future holds for South Africa and her people.
* Kaylinn Oostendorp is a pupil at Albert Myburgh Senior Secondary School in Bredasdorp.