Theme: Youth Moving South Africa Forward.
`A country, a movement, a people, that does not value its youth, does not deserve its future`. By OR Tambo.
We meet here today to pay tribute to a generation of young men and women of our country who gave it all to set our country on the road to freedom like never before.
A generation that Franz Fanon describes as a generation that discovered its mission and set out to fulfil it.
A generation that brought back firmly the spotlight of the international community on the conditions of the Black South Africans under the system of colonialism and apartheid.
The first gift that this generation and their predecessors behest on us is the building of a South African nation.
The construction of that nation was not to be based on the principle of separation and different ethnic or racial groups.
The foundation of that nation was based on the principles of a non-racialism, non-sexism, socio-economic justice and democratic South Africa with equal opportunities in education, employment, business etc.
This was the dream of different generations of African leaders and activist it continues to be our dream that we are making a reality.
They are a generation whom we should perhaps recognize as the one that Frantz Fanon calls for at the end of his book, The Wretched of the Earth.
Fanon tells us that we on the African continent ought not to look westward or northward for solutions to the world’s problems.
“Humanity” he says, “is waiting for something other from us than such an imitation.”
He says that:
“If we want humanity to advance a step further, if we want to bring it up to a different level than that which Europe has shown it, then we must invent and we must make discoveries….
“For Europe, for ourselves, for humanity, comrades, we must turn over a new leaf, we must work out new concepts, and try to set afoot a new man.”
We are helping ourselves and the world to turn over a new leaf, to enter a new terrain and out of this to give birth to a new man and a new woman.
Oliver Tambo defined the kind of society that generations of our movement desired in an interview in 1968 when he said that:
We fight for a South Africa in which there will be no racial discrimination, no inequalities based on colour, creed or race- a non-racial democracy which recognises the essential equality between man and man… to abolish the machinery whereby few live and thrive on the exploitation of the many.
They have offered us through the force of example profound lessons in leadership.
We are gathered here to launch an important milestone of the Youth Month marking the 40th Anniversary of the 1976 student revolt.
In their honour this Memorial was built by the democratic government. To perpetuate the memory of these selfless youth and the legacy they provided the nation this day and month have been rededicated to the Youth of South Africa as Youth Day and Month.
This historic day profoundly changed the socio-political landscape in South Africa. It raised the political consciousness of the people in South Africa and abroad, especially the youth.
This uprising seen by the international community through their media certainly escalated the struggle against apartheid and gained the international solidarity from the progressive humanity.
The youth in our country, like young people everywhere in the world, are searching for genuine ideals and values which they can live by, and for revolutionary ways to win them.
As an integral part of society, the youth is charged with the specialised task of fulfilling the strategic objectives of our country with their greater involvement in the efforts of nation building.
Structures like NYDA has the responsibility of organising, mobilising and guiding all our youth into participation in the struggle of our people to build a new society.
We are a country that is waging a self-sacrificing struggle against old rottenness, and youth is always the first to undertake a self-sacrificing struggle.`
Indeed, this also places greater challenges on any society. It has to adopt a scientific system of educating its youth members – to develop in them the ability to combine knowledge and practice, verve and cool-headedness, innovation and experience.
Thus the youth are the object of social influence, and the subject of historical process. They assimilate the experience of previous generations, not as passive receivers; they creatively modify it, enrich and extend the legacy they have inherited in accordance with the requirements of their time, and the specific features of a given social moment.
This creativity of the youth is needed to move South Africa forward.
I thank you.