A letter for the Activists and Youth Leaders across the continent. Written with love, For the years Ahead.
Sometimes, and precisely at the moments where our formal education and capitalist upbringings direct us towards employing our minds into decision making that is inherently self serving, we should use our hearts to direct us towards actions that transcend commonness, and choose to use our talents and blessings to end the suffering of our people. This is Africa. Where energy is deaths kryptonite. Land mass of ancient Kingdoms. Home to the youngest population in the world.
Since the end of Colonisation, never have we had such a tangible potential to achieve socio-economic freedom across boarders. And never have we been as ready as we are today, to lead as individuals, taking conscious decisions everyday to empower one another. To free our people from the clenches of Poverty and Inequality.
In light of the fires of consciousness currently burning through the continent, I cannot help but be both excited and simultaneously worried about whether or not this current flare of interest, in loving and fighting for our identity and each other is only a passing trend.
Trends have come and gone here.
And once they pass, we forget and even belittle those left still holding the torch of an old flame. So when I say it worries me that your love of self may run out when the cool kids laugh at your fist still held high, understand that this is not me being pessimistic, but simply an observation of what I know to be true.
We need to be willing to become whom and what the revolution needs us to be. We need to be strong enough to keep fighting for the socio-economic freedom of our people regardless of the slow pace of transition and the resistance from the systems in place that hold us and our people back.
So. I hope and pray that you don’t tire and that the winds of time have no effect on the fires burning within you. Brave through the PTSD creeping up on you as a result of the movements you have birthed. Brave through the leadership positions you take on when all you wanted was to be another voice in the crowd. Brave through the biased reports. And the questions. And the confusion. And. And…
In this letter I hope to advise and comfort you as a loving sister would. I hope in time you will all advise me too and that we all learn from one another. I hope we don’t step on one another to climb up any ladders, but rather help each other to the top.
This letter is written with no format in mind. My education is not my friend in situations like this, the rules of punctuation and letter writing can easily be trumped by passion if permitted.
On The Elders - the leaders who are currently at the helm of Africa have become easy to criticize. They are partly to blame, but the fast pace that political change has taken after the struggle for political freedom was won, has a lot to do with this too. The Jacob Zuma’s (South Africa) and Robert Mugabe’s (Zimbabwe) of Southern Africa spent a majority of their lives fighting against systems and ideologies.
We have been born into a time where we have to fight for the advancement and development of new systems and ideologies.
The answer to every one of their struggles was to fight against; whilst the answer to every one of our struggles is to fight for. One cannot use this as an excuse for their mounting blunders, but this can allow you to understand why it is hard for them to see that the struggle is in fact not over for the African Child. They believe they have won the war, when in fact a war is still in progress, and we are not in any way on the winning side.
Respect does not have to be admiration. The ability to respect an elder is a valuable commodity when the devil is banking on your unhappy home to cause you to lose your focus. Good energy is vital for progress. Abandon the urge to play the blame game and move towards participating in creating change, being part of the answer to the struggles of our nations and always looking for progressive methods to fight for this long awaited socio-economic freedom of our people.
On Group Economics - we will be sentencing our people to an eternal poverty if we fail to recognize that we are the ones that Africa has been waiting for. Our ideas, Our beliefs, Our passions. There is an old saying that goes “an injury to one is an injury to all” I believe so much that this is true. Even more true when it is placed side by side with the Nguni saying “umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”, which can be translated to “I am because you are.” The same factors prohibiting our people from making it out of financial tatters prohibit our Governments from strengthening our currencies. There are so many ideas floating around young Africa. So many young people wanting to become entrepreneurs, so many talented artists, musicians, designers, dancers, writers…But capitalism, greed and selfish intentions are an immense roadblock. Embrace group economics and teach yourselves accountability to one another. Barter services. Give your time to each other. Grow together. God knows we need more young people infiltrating industries that are still largely dominated by companies owned by the historically privileged as well as multi-national companies.
Don’t spend money you don’t have in the hopes of making money; you are starting off at a minus. Sell your talent for an associate’s talent. Barter your artwork for web design, your catering service for posters placed at the tuck shop down the road.
On Drought - Water is such an important commodity. We rely on it to survive. Like with most things, we only begin to realize how truly valuable it is when it is scarce or after we have none. With many nations facing issues of Drought right now, many of us are driven to the “easy solution” of praying for these nations. I challenge you to in fact find out how we can hold hands and help one another distribute water to these locations. How can we assist in the building of wells and their filling, how can we lead as young people and see our communities through times such as this. For many communities the lack of water leads to a shortage in food supplies, we need to find solutions, African tailored solutions, that can sustain these communities and prevent malnutrition and ward off any and all health crisis’s coming about.
On Civil War, Boko Haram, Sudan, DRC and Somalia - Earlier this year, in a meeting with a few youth from the DRC, Nigeria and Somalia I was highly impressed with the efforts of my peers in protecting their communities from the effects of War. It is a terrifying reality that many of you are in vulnerable locations where your lives are in danger, and in areas where the fight for Socio-Economic freedom and equality cannot as yet be a priority.
We are only as strong as our most vulnerable nation.
And with so many States facing threats from within, we all need to ask ourselves how vulnerable we are and what we can do as young people to ensure that differing views and differing beliefs do not result in any loss of life where we are concerned. Our involvement in the Governance of our nations should fill the spaces we occupy with tolerance and acceptance. We are a people of varying belief systems, shades of skin and traditions. There are many things one can pin point and use to tear us apart and make us believe we are not one and that we are not equal. I urge you to be the generation that lives to see the end of all the wars and struggles inspired by intolerance that are waging on our continent. I hope and pray with you all, that peace is achieved in your nations and that you do not tire in your efforts to bring this peace about. This is not going to be an easy feat and I know that no words in a letter can bring it about. Where help is needed, let us work together, just as all of Africa worked together with the ANC to bring about the end of the Arms Struggle and Apartheid.
Some Last Thoughts - the music you listen to holds within it the power to either inspire productivity or move you in the opposite direction. Create a sound track for your success. Listen to more music that builds you.
Embrace your heritage. Read up on the history of your people.
Educate yourself on your own set curriculum.
Support the lady selling veggies in your CBD instead of buying them at the super market.
Host your events at venues within townships and villages.
When your friends start businesses, support them.
Don’t be an island. Be a continent! Have your borders, but don’t let them prevent you from sharing or receiving what others might have to share with you.
So, to the Land of Kingdoms, may she find her Socio-Economic freedom within our lifetime and to us young people of Africa, may we lead her effectively when our time comes.
Your Sister; Thobeka Nyathikazi