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Youths’ big challenges



Tsepiso S Mothibi

Being young, adolescent, full of the vigour and enthusiasm or the inexperience and weakness in character that marks the period between childhood and full adulthood’s manhood or womanhood; this is the definition of youth my concise dictionary gives. In the short play Euthphyro (translated by Benjamin Jowett in 1871), written by the Greek philosopher Plato in the period between 427-347 B.C., there is talk (dialogue) between Socrates and Euthphyro about Meletus from the deme (township) of Pitthis, whose main concern is to free the youth from the mental chains their misleaders entwine them in. The lines from Socrates to Euthphyro about Meletus’ charge go:

…He says he knows how the youth are corrupted and who are their corruptors. I fancy he must be a wise man, and seeing that I am anything but a wise man, he has found me out, and is going to accuse me of corrupting his young friends. And of this our mother the state is to be the judge. Of all our political men he is the only one who seems to me to begin in the right way, with the cultivation of virtue in youth; he is a good husbandman, and takes care of the shoots first, and clears away us who are the destroyers of them. That is the first step; he will afterwards tend to the elder branches; and if he goes on as he has begun, he will be a very great public benefactor. 

Socrates is perhaps one of the best philosophers any scholar or academic comes across in their studies, and this dialogue is one of the best discussions on human relations and harmonious living one ever gets to read. I am concerned about the state of our youth in the present times, and I believe that the focus of the discussions this Youth Month should be on the proper direction of the young peoples of the world towards the attainment of a truly harmonious global society which unites the youth into being a social class that will guarantee the true progress of humanity and the world.

The discussions and their arguments will not necessarily be peaceful; for to excise the cancers of debauchery, purposelessness, and self-servitude bequeathed upon the world by history is an exercise that requires the expression of truthful truth to rid the world of the lies history taught to mankind and its children. We cannot afford to have a world where the youth are unruly and go out and burn schools just because their peers in history did the same.

The struggles of the past are in no way similar to the challenges we face in the present: the approaches to dealing with them can therefore never use the same tactics. If violence and general uprising were applied in 1976 or any period preceding this one, that method is irrelevant in the present; we cannot go on to teach the youth that it is right to pick up arms, sticks, bricks and Molotov cocktails.

We cannot chant the same slogans our fathers did in the days of war as politics of the age seem to teach. Our father’s wars are not ours, their sins are theirs for them to deal with, and from their violent methods we should refrain; we are more enlightened from the lessons history taught to the world.

The main culprit in the destabilisation of the world and the installation of systems that nurture uncontrollable inequality, unemployment, poverty, drug abuse, criminality, listlessness, disregard for law and order, and anarchy among the youth of today is the devil’s brew concocted by colonialism, race segregation and oppression: class organisation. The evil masters of the world are in unison drivers of a system that teaches the children that only a certain standard (the ruling class’ standard) is the right one to focus upon.

A poor child growing in Africa is daily doused in a barrel of the devil’s brew of lies that are formulated to make him or her think that the only right standards to follow are from the West. That the resources to attain such stilted heights of ‘success’ are systematically gauged to lack in his or her part of the world is a reality the youth are not made aware of. Many drink the lies of the West in huge gulps served from kegs full of bullpoo disguised as ‘success’. The world is a classed entity, and whether you agree or disagree is dependent upon your level of gullibility and naivety.

The youth, I believe, must first assess their state of being and the state of their society’s being before making rash decisions to follow in the footsteps of the celebrity they are taught to worship by the media houses of the world that are largely owned by members of a ‘high’ class resident in some plush mansion in the exclusive suburbias of the First World. Those that end up in criminal activity are more often than less in pursuit of some standard foreign to their immediate vicinity or domicile. And of what use is the foreign if the only application it finds on local turf incites children into criminality? The youth must first learn to love their locale before they try to be something they see on the TV screen. What the youth of today are forced to watch on the screen is the “Expensive Sh#@%” Fela Kuti speaks against in his lyrics.

There are messages interspersed in the various books of history, in the lyrics of those musicians that truly stood for the rights of the youth of this world, because they knew that the children of the world are indeed the future of humanity. The political lie goes on to show pictures of a dead Hector Peterson 40 years after a policeman’s bullet took his life away. What we need to see are pictures of his life, that is, what he really stood for and believed in, without inciting the youth of today into the violent tantrums and episodes of looting and burning they often go into.

The politician should know that he is the primary teacher of society, and that what he teaches in his orations lands on the ears of the youth. The politician must at all times be aware that the old adage, “small jars have big ears,” is true: the youth, due to their inexperience, will often consider what is said by a public figure in government as true. Many of the speeches that are made this month portray the youth of 1976 as heroes, and of course they are, but if the violence of June 16 is portrayed as a valiant act the youth of today should mirror, then we are losing the plot: for the truth of the moment is that the previously oppressed majority own the government, and teaching the heroics of the violence of the past is no different to shooting oneself in the leg. New lessons need to be taught to the children, and the truth of the moment should form the mainstay of the lessons taught. Speaking of the violence of the past just so that one can garner in votes is miseducation.

The majority of the ruling class in Africa are the products of colonial education; that their ways will tend towards the imperialist tendencies of colonialism should be of no surprise to the youth seeking to rid him or herself of colonial tendencies. The lessons one receives from observing the ruling classes make it easy for one to make this conclusion: we need to rid ourselves of the oppressive ways of the colonist and the segregationist first to progress. That we treat each other based on class, race, religion, and political affiliation is the direct result of the lessons taught by history, and to move forward into a harmonious future, we should first get rid of the mentalities the history of the world and the continent taught to us.

BOB MARLEY: They don't want to see us unite, All they want us to do is keep on fussing and fighting -Top Ranking

BOB MARLEY: They don’t want to see us unite, All they want us to do is keep on fussing and fighting -Top Ranking

One can never hope to beat the debauched ways of the colonist and the oppressor, if they become the colonist and oppressor themselves. Tell me not that this is not the truth, for visionaries like Chris Hani, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, King Moshoeshoe I, Mahatma Ghandi and other heroes of the struggle for human freedom speak against it in their words. King Moshoeshoe I spoke against nepotism in his words when he taught that we should not view each other in the light of race and ethnicity.

The Basotho became one nation made of many different tribes because this wise king knew that the only thing he could do to unite people in the midst of raging Lifaqane wars was embracing the difference/s between the many different tribes and melding them into one harmonious philosophy of governance. Modern day political leaders could gain much from this lesson if they realised one fact: the state and the unity of the citizens is of more essence than petty party politics. The youth should refrain from engaging in political activities that focus on dividing them as a nation. Politics are not more important than keeping the beautiful spirit of neighbourliness salient to the running of a good society and progressive state.

Bob Marley wrote two songs whose words reverberate in one’s mind if such one is a human being that needs to see the world progress in harmony. The songs Top Ranking and Babylon System present a clear picture as to why the world is forever stuck in the clutches of chaos; the top ranks of the world deal with the developing world in a manner that incites such malaises as civil war and endless strife. The standards set present violence as the only solution to solving conflicts that would otherwise be amicably solved if the youth were made aware of the sour grapes of war’s wrath.

That young women and men are taught at school to ‘succeed’ at ‘all costs’ regardless of the needs of their fellow citizens is a lesson one should ignore, for one’s success is in reality the result of the concerted efforts of other known and unknown human individuals. The success of an engineer in his career is determined by the often uneducated labourers on his projects, and the success of a banker depends on the deposits made by the various individuals using the services of his banking institution. There is never success made in isolation: all are involved in a harmonious circle of unity. The politician that makes it into parliament and government should never forget the voters in his support and in his opposition; all are involved in justifying his place in running the state. The youth must never forget that their success depends on the relationships they have with other people; their success can never be achieved in isolation, and they first they must rid themselves of the chains of histories past.

One can never see his or her dream succeed if they have their mind stuck in the past or listens to the sermons of the priests of division and oppression. Nelson Mandela always referred to the philosophy of Ubuntu which teaches the simple lesson that:

I am, because we are.

He did not teach that some are smarter than others because they followed a certain religion or philosophy, or, that they were better beings because they belonged to a certain race, creed, or, were affiliates to a certain political party.  Muhammad Ali echoes these words in his quote when he states:

The greatest victory in life is to rise above the material things that we once valued most.

The world the youth of today live in is steeped in a mentality of materialism, and materialism breeds selfishness, and selfishness soon grows into violence; for the selfish individual soon believes they have the right to own everything regardless of the prevailing conditions. We are a continent rich in minerals or natural resources, but the poverty gaps are in many states abysmal. This is due to imperialist principles of colonialism, and we can only turn the tide if we teach our youth to be more considerate of the condition of others. After all, one can never truly be in the absence of others. This is the basic truth of life. So the youth should know.  

  1. S. Mothibi, Esq.

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