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THE FORMIDABLE YOUTH OF 1976: “The youth of ‘76 had all odds heavily stacked against them. Their leaders were either imprisoned, banned, exiled, silenced or killed. Disenfranchised, they were regarded as second-class citizens in their land of birth. Despite the odds, fearless students from Soweto initiated a process of resistance that spread across South Africa.
They found common ground around clearly-defined issues. They were unified in their resolve; became a formidable force and changed the course of history! They never asked: "What can South Africa do for us?" Instead, they asked: "What can we can do for South Africa?"
Eleven years ago, the President of this Institute had spoken these words as a guest at a radio station in Cape Town. It was done on the 30th Commemoration of June 16. The presenter asked the President to contrast the youth of ‘76 with the youth of 2006. As a final-year theologian student during 1976, his racially-segregated institution was part-and-parcel of the resistance movement. Caught in billowing smoke of tear-gas at the Grand Parade student protest, he felt first-hand what Sowetan students must have felt on that historic day.
THE PRIVILEGED YOUTH OF 2016: By contrast, the youth of 2006 (and now 2016) have access to their leaders in politics, business, education. Secondly, the constitution is in their favor; they are first-class citizens and could become whatever they wish to become. Thirdly, unlike the youth of '76 who were restricted to racially-segregated universities; they have access to any university in the country. In fact as pictured above; students may study in countries like China, India and Cuba at government's expense! During 2013, 187 of the 1,200 South African students studying medicine in Cuba went on strike demanding that their monthly stipend of $200 be increased more than 300%.
A DEMANDING YOUTH: Despite their commonality around the FeesMustFall Campaigns, they seemed to be more divided on social-, moral-, political- and economic issues. Moreover, some haven’t yet discovered the secret to channel and redirect their pent-up frustrations into a constructive and meaningful way. In fact, most are not united around a common, worthy objective. As such, those have failed to become a formidable force that could change the course of history in our country!
Unlike their ’76 counterparts who were deprived of a financial aid scheme; students of 2016 have access to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)! In his January 8th statement to the nation, the President announced that government will allocate an additional R4.582 billion funding to NSFAS. Thus in total, the budget that will be administered by NSFAS in 2016 comes to a staggering R14, 582 billion!
PREPARING A NEW GENERATION OF LEADERS!
Forty years had elapsed since the June '76 Student Uprising changed the course of South Africa and twenty-two years since we obtained our democracy. Question: How far have we progressed as a nation?
During last year’s June 16 Celebrations, the author had a rude awakening that sent cold shivers down his spine. He asked these pertinent questions: “How far have we progressed to realize the sacrifices made by the generation of '76? Do we realize the significance of the 40th Commemoration of June 16, 1976? Do we know that forty years signifies the birth of a new generation?” As President and Founder of the Emerging Leaders Institute, he knew instinctively that his Institute had to make a positive contribution towards this historic milestone.
ELI is willing to train 1 000 young South Africans who are willing to ask: What can I can do for South Africa? Instead of asking: What can South Africa do for me? Please visit this page for more information.