09 July, 2011
Youth identities and future attitudes
By Bongiwe Tutu
As the youth of South Africa we are people who have come into a world that has undergone a great deal of revolutions and transitions in government policies. An immense amount of tension and fear was instilled in a number of people, oppression, poverty, fear and lack of hope for the future. Looking at our brief history with the Apartheid regime in Africa, World Wars in the Northern States followed by the Cold War. These are the things which called for change. A change which came at a time when we; the youth of today were born. That was during the 1990s when the country implemented Democracy and there was a great deal of national unity amongst the people.
This change enabled some of the people who were living in poverty, to be able to grow out of it and develop better futures for themselves and their families. However, a large number of the African people weren’t able to move out of poverty because they were never well off during apartheid. Issues of social welfare; poverty, poor education, poor infrastructure, unemployment and crime ravelled around and thus caused the divisions in our people. These are the divisions which we grew up into and we are therefore living through the consequences of our countries past.
With the new technological advancements coming in every single minute of the day, developing machinery that can do things quicker and easier, there is a less need to have workers and so the division is increased evermore as the unemployment and poverty rate increases. These technologies increase globalisation and so our identities are hindered as our cultures are under the scrutiny of Western trends and lifestyles which are depicted as the ideal ways of living life. Beyond this, there is the youth which is under the pressure of keeping up with all these technologies and trends taking place, being on a social network and putting your name out there to “chat” with people all over the world, trying to live like Jay-Z, and busy “Keeping up with the Kardashians”. So our identity becomes a puzzled box where many find it difficult to embrace in their own talents and personalities.
However, not everyone has access to these technologies or information as they are living under different circumstances and that is how divisions lighten up. You can see the differences in our youth by looking closer into class and racial standards; however, the stronger signifier of divisions which affect our attitudes and identities is class. Race is not an issue unless you are living in poverty. So, you have amongst us those who are in well off class standards, educated, happy and hopeful, and those who are living under the hindrance of poverty who might end up engaging in crime as they have a hopeless attitude for their futures and in need of social welfare. That is how the notion of individualism comes in where most of our youth break out of their social barriers and strive to change their lives as they are hopeful for their future. So the onus is on you, you can either grovel and roam around your disadvantages or try to make something out of yourself. There is so much out there for us, take a stand and make history.