OPINION: They will be heard

They will be heard

I grew up in a household and community where it wasn't unusual to be told that children should be seen and not heard. Your opinions weren't valid until you were "big enough" to be taken seriously, to talk to the adults.

Faith Daniels Kagiso
Faith Daniels

Such was life. And it was ok - then.  

I think some might still hold this view and to some extent I agree - if you link what you are saying to respect. There should always be respect for elders, our parents, the people who shaped us. It's the mark of a well brought-up, well-mannered individual, isn't it? To listen to those who've gone before you, who've been there, done that and got the several T-shirts? 

But, I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise. Quite willing actually, because our own history as a country has taught us that young people, if not heard, are able to change the course of history, while fighting for their rights and the rights of others. In the here and now, 2016, our young people are again asking (loudly and persistently) to be heard. In fact, they are demanding it. 

They are teaching us valuable lessons in the process - that if ever we thought that they should be seen and not heard, we were wrong. They are making their voices heard, speaking their minds and taking to the streets. At times, some of the chaos makes it difficult to focus on what exactly they are saying and demanding. But if you listen carefully, the messages will filter through. 

Take 18 year-old Thuto Gaasenwe, reciting a poem on YouTube for instance - entitled "Dear Mister President." It's worth having a listen to the almost 5 minutes of what comes from the heart. 

The sentiment is real. Young people want the promises made to their parents, fulfilled.  More than 20 years after democracy they don't want to go to the polls with another wish list that might or might not come true. They want guarantees, they want change. In fact, they are ready to be the change. 

So here I am, still replaying the message from this young woman, a plea really, for our president to listen to her - to answer the hard questions about Nkandla, the wealth of some while others suffer, the empty promises that once got people to the polls. But, now she says - "you can sit on your throne but don't stop by my hood every four years"  

How sad this is - that after years of watching things unfold, this is the sentiment from a young woman, and it may well represent how many young people feel- "do not come to my area and make the same promises, because it will not work this time." If our young people feel this way, it means they genuinely feel that those who've gone before have been great disappointments. In a few days from now - registrations for local government elections will commence. Let's see where this generation leads us with their votes.

Written by Faith Daniels, Head of News: Kagiso Media

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