6 Million Youth Disempowered?

I am not an expert in figures, but I definitely know that 6 million people is more than 10% of our nation.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) almost 6 million youth had not registered by the closing date at the end of January 2019. Was this their way of showing disappointment in their leaders or prospective leaders? The IEC slogan “voting is your way to be heard” didn’t mean a thing to them. Do our youth not see themselves as the people that will one day move the country forward?

I wondered if they felt like the Israelites in Egypt with no hope in their leader, Moses. Pressure is powerful. They felt pressured and angered by those in power. The rich people in this country (a mere 10%) own 71% of the country’s wealth, while the poorest people (a whopping 60%) share 7% of the total wealth.

Young people are disillusioned as they watch people who are better salaried than their own parents, have 24-hour security and many other resources, but continue to steal the countries resources.

To some of our leaders, stealing billions is like stealing 10 cents. Yet, every 10 cents is very important to the growth of the country. Another truth – it is not your 10 cents, but it belongs to the nation. Leaders were appointed to look after our money and not to squander and squabble over it.

Many young people mentioned that their parents or families depend on food donations from charities and on government pension money, which is not enough. I must be honest I feel for them, their cries are genuine.

We are all familiar with hope and disappointment. We are a nation filled with hopes and desires and those desires are sometimes fulfilled and other times they are not. It could be as simple as having trust that a friend will help you, and then be disappointed when all help fails. The truth is we do find ways of getting what we desire; then we either succeed or fail again.

So too, when we enter into prayer, we are filled with hopes and wait for the outcome. The outcome could be what we prayed for and sometimes it is not. Those are times where we go back to prayer to try and understand where things went wrong. We ask ourselves this question, was it through our lack of listening?

What am I trying to say to the youth of South Africa is this: your disappointment in the government that led you not to register to vote, hasn’t made any changes. Your vote could have made a significant change. There were 48 contesting parties and the choice was wide. Does it mean that not one of them spoke to you?

I appeal to the youth to become proactive about issues. Don’t feel forgotten and discarded. I know our leaders have failed you badly. They did not visit you when you highlighted your complaints, they carried on and enjoying stealing from your future. Your future is in your hands. Grasp it firmly.

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Ms Puleng Matsaneng
B.A. (Johannesburg)

Puleng works in Spirituality and researches Ignatian Spirituality in an African context. Her area of speciality is in exploring how African themes and practices of spirituality dialogue with the Western traditions, and how that is understood in relation to Ignatian Spirituality. She has looked at how Ignatian Spirituality can be integrated into the African worldview. Most especially, how the use of song and storytelling can be part of the prayer process. She is currently managing retreats in daily life and training prayer guides. Puleng is also involved in ongoing Spiritual Direction, giving 8-day and 30-day retreats. Her latest venture is a pilot programme of healing workshops that use the principles of Ignatian Spirituality.

p.matsaneng@jesuitinstitute.org.za
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