To do or not to do
Daily commuting is met with various encounters and experiences. The world of a Metrobus commuter does not come without interesting occurrences. For instance, the post-lunchtime drive is filled with high school pupils. In their multiple squads they dominate the narrow aisles whilst thumping sounds from their “walky-typies”. From their lingering conversations it becomes clear that it’s a “boys versus girls” quest with much “he said, she said” squabbles… just another entertaining ride after a long day’s work. In the still of the moving bus, groups of school children exchange their round brownies for ama-kip-kip and icy treats at most intersection corners. On their backs are identical Karrimor bags that uniform every passing school child. Well, one does have a good chuckle of the hysteria that surrounds the blooming adolescents; and of course with accompanying occasional “goories” (fights) fuelled by sapling egos…all in a day’s twenty-minute trip from campus to home.
In all the mentioned encounters and experiences, one thing remains solid and constant; no race seems to play a part amongst the school children and no “goories” are intentionally motivated by racial differentiation. Instead, it is a simple reality of integrated experiences, the forever sung “rainbow nation”. Is this not what is supposed by democracy and freedom?!
Well, the answer to that question is always different with every individual as it is supported by personal beliefs and experiences. It would be too hasty to expect a society which was in constant conflict not to express any pessimism and scepticism by those who experienced the realness of the nondemocratic South Africa. However, it is unfortunate that the same scope of analysis is still used to examine the social behaviours of young South Africans. It deems unfair and inaccurate measures of understanding the youth. The emancipation–driven goals of the youth in the 1970s are different to that of the modern-day youth; although equally deserving of respect and importance in society. With reference to the daily encounters of a commuter, the children analysed in that sense are the reality of the new democratic South Africa, substantially reformed and with issues and concerns fit for this day and age. Their concerns are now shaped by 21st century renditions of expression influenced with technology, image, social integration and belonging to the socio-cultural fragments of the global village. It is pivotal to note that current society does not exist without shortcomings, thus the worth of democracy may be overshadowed.
A brief survey was conducted at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in order to compare the views on whether or not the behaviour of the youth ought to be viewed on the grounds of democracy as a positive or negative factor. A politics lecturer at the Department of Humanities stated that a stern change is prevalent between students that he taught between the years 1998-2002 and 2005-2012. He stressed the point that the variation was mostly on respect by stating that, “students in the late 90s made us lecturers feel great and respected for our work here, but now it is just a struggle of getting-by with ill-mannered and highly opinionated individuals”. When asked about the influence of democracy in his social life, Mzuphangalele Stamper (22) a student from (UJ) casually laughed and asked, “do people even know what they mean by democracy?!” Naya, A pupil from the nearby high school Voor En Toe expressed that, “[she does]…not think about democracy because it means nothing… [to her]”.
The survey revealed varying views from three of the age groups in society. It suggests that a gap of common conception exists when dealing with the topic of democracy. To the older members of society, democracy is important and worth achieving whereas the younger members show indifference toward democracy.
As society is bound by facets of worldviews, the debate over the prevalence of democracy and its influence or lack thereof on the current youth will always produce multiple interpretations. Yet, an understanding of the basic notion of democracy as freedom in unity ought to be reached across society to avoid the vice that may occur due to conflicting stances.