South African youth are pioneers of change


The recent announcement of the 2019 Matric results showed an increase in the pass rate for learners across South Africa, but many pundits feared that access to financing and a poor economic environment could hamper the dreams of many school leavers. has asked a few school leavers how they feel about their future. Sivuviso Mvani, a participant of the Salesian Life Choices programme, is hopeful about his future. He reminds his peers that they are “African pioneers” who can help to shape the future for a “thriving Africa”.

South African youth make up 37% of the country’s population. The country’s youth is the catalyst needed for radical transformation and radical change. If we’re serious about radical transformation and change for the better, then we must equip the youth with the keys to unlock their full potential and that of the country.

I’d like to see youth taking charge of their own lives and being aware of how much power they have. As young people, we can transform our own lives and the lives of our families.

I grew up in Philippi, a poverty-stricken township located in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town. I’ve lived in Philippi all my life with my parents and two younger siblings. Seeing violence in my community was something very common but my parents protected me from that. I am very thankful because when I look at kids my age, many have dropped out from school. A kid who grew up with me passed away recently after being shot by rival gang members.

Things might not be as we want them to be in this moment, but if we understand that we are the future, we will be what we want to see.

I am motivated by my parents to strive for a better future and to move my family out of Philippi because that’s what they couldn’t achieve for themselves.

Growing up, I realized South Africa has deep inequality. We can blame the government for that and we can point fingers at whoever we think is to blame, but that is not going to take us anywhere. We need to understand that things might not be as we want them to be in this moment, but if we understand that we are the future, we will be what we want to see. We will be the change we want to see.

I see a future where I’m not just pushing boundaries that limit our potential, but breaking them in a way that says: ” African child, it’s possible!”

For many the future looks bleak, but the future that I see for the youth is one where we take charge with innovative ideas and strategies to make the vision for a thriving Africa, a reality. 

Conquering university life

My journey of being an African pioneer starts with me conquering university life this year at the University of Cape Town.

This journey excites me, since I will be exposed to a whole new world of diversity – being surrounded by people from all walks of life. I am excited about being part of this community where we can share ideas, discuss and debate problems facing youth and come up with solutions. I am looking forward to personal growth and becoming a more independent, disciplined and liberated young adult.

One of my fears as I embark on this journey is disappointing my parents. They have sacrificed so much to get me where I am. My vision is to make their dreams come true, which is for me to graduate from university and go on to inspire others not to be limited by their socioeconomic conditions.

I am excited about being part of this community where we can share ideas, discuss and debate problems facing youth and come up with solutions.

There’s a lot of unlearning we have to do as a society. It is without a doubt that we have a lot of potential as people, but we might not realise it. There’s power in changing a person’s mindset because when you change how they think, it eventually changes how they act. This is especially true if we look at what the youth are getting up to, such as drug and alcohol abuse.

The power of prayer

I source my hope from my understanding of the power of prayer. We are always faced with challenges and it can sometimes feel hopeless, but through prayer, one’s hope remains alive. Prayer gives me a reason to keep going and to believe that something better is coming. 

The youth need to understand that change and transformation is in their hands, since we have been granted the opportunities and rights our forefathers never received. Until we realise that the wrongs of today can only be made right by the leaders of the future – the youth – the wrongs of today will persist in the future.

The power for positive change is in the youth.

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* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.


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South African youth are pioneers of change