By Rev. Siphiwe Christopher Mathebula
Mahatma Gandhi once said there are seven things that can destroy the human race. They are Wealth without Work; Pleasure without Conscience; Knowledge without Character; Business without Ethics; Science without Humanity; Religion without Sacrifice; Politics without Principle
The striking thing about all the above is that they are attached to social and political conditions. This underlines the fact that the social and political behaviour of adults invariably impacts on our youths.
In the words of John Wesley “what one generation tolerates, the next generation will embrace.” We need to identify antidotes or remedies that will rectify what may seem to be a lost cause so that the South African youth can reshape the narrative of our country.
South Africa is not a lost cause. We are a land of opportunities and possibilities that our youth can benefit from. As a nation we are not making full use of the natural and humans resources at our disposal. We need to create an enabling environment for our youth so that they can be globally competitive.
This means investing resources behind our education system, public health system and cutting edge technology. These should be facilities that our own leaders will have the confidence to even let their children utilise. It is disheartening that our public schools and hospitals are only used by specific population groups and yet our own leaders would rather opt to send their children to private institutions or even out of the country to receive educational and health services out of reach to ordinary people.
Our youth should have a conducive environment that will allow them to excel and stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of American born founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg who at the age of 33 has a net worth of US$62.7 billion. It is possible for South African youth to be innovative, successful and become global icons.
In order to have a positive impact on the youth of today, we must demonstrate leadership with integrity. This is required of us in both the private and public spaces. Leadership with integrity means serving those around us and not pursuing selfish agendas. In our homes and communities, our children must see the best example of leadership by us taking our responsibilities as parents seriously and being good examples in our communities.
Public office bearers must understand that they hold positions of influence and that the way they conduct business in their offices will have a lasting impression on our youth. The media has been reporting daily about the misuse of public funds, unethical behaviour and questionable moral conduct by people in positions of leadership. This happens in full view of our young people as they too are consumers of media. If this carries on, it will end up being the acceptable way of life for our future leaders.
Under our watch, youth unemployment statistics have skyrocketed leaving our young and energetic people idle. South Africa has reached an all-time high rate of unemployment in 13 years. Sadly, more than half of the unemployed people in the country are young people aged up to 34. We may ask how we got here as a country. This is because we have stood by and watched the wheels come off not realising that all of us are leaders and we have an obligation to lead our youth with integrity.
A caring society is likely to be more prosperous than one that does not care. The concept of Ubuntu originates from Nguni languages meaning selfless living should be rooted in South Africa. For our youth to have a prosperous future, we need to apply Ubuntu concepts in raising them. This means treating every youth as your own child, ensuring you make a positive contribution to their lives. This is in keeping with a well-known African proverb which says “It takes a village to raise a child.”
Impregnating, raping and killing our young girls has become the norm. Our young boys are hooked onto drugs and criminal acts and we wonder what happened. It is because we have let go of the principles of Ubuntu as a nation and are engaged in socially unacceptable behaviours that have set a bad example to our young people.
If we are serious about changing the narrative of our country as far as the youth is concerned, we need to start being role models to them by reviving Ubuntu in our communities. Edmund Burke said “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” We cannot stand by and let others set bad examples for our youth.
Siphiwe Christopher Mathebula is a Senior Pastor at Hope Restoration Ministries, a co-host of the annual Men of Hope Conference and Founder of Champions Maker. He is a published author and motivational speaker