By Aphiwe Ngowapi
On June 16, the Makana Municipality hosted a Youth Day event at the Soccer City on Raglan Road.
Community members gathered around the venue excitedly while feasting their eyes and ears to dance and music performances.
The organisations that attended the event included Sound and Print Studio, Makana Rape Survivors Support Group, Eastcape Midlands College, Makana Municipality, Eastern Cape Social Development, Eluxolweni Child and Youth Care Centre (CYCC), C.M. Vellem, and Samuel Ntlebi primary schools.
The Ward 10 Councillor, Zodwa Cethu, said, “We are hosting this youth day event of June 16 because it reminds us of June ’76, when the young people were fighting for their rights. We are free today because of them.” She added that there is high unemployment but that today’s youth must try and work together to find jobs and do their own thing. “That is why there are colleges that equip the youth with valuable skills. We now have access to such things freely because of the youth of 1976. That is why we are hosting this youth day today, to remember those struggling to get the freedom we have today,” she added.
The Makana Rape Survivors Support Group brought pamphlets for the youth to familiarise themselves with the services they provide. “We mostly work with GBV (Gender Based Violence) and rape. The organisation also has a safe house for women and children their husbands/partners abuse. It is a place to run to, where they can spend three to five days, while looking for another place to stay,” says Nomazwi Hlasela. She also added that they could not provide the address to the safe house for the victim’s safety.
Grade seven pupils from C.M. Vellem, who performed and danced throughout the event, gave us their thoughts on the day. Inganathi Tom says, “For me, June 16 is youth day. The likes of Nelson Mandela fought for it.” She adds, “I think June 16 is to celebrate us as youth and honour us so we can see ourselves.” Owethu Skayi says, “I think June 16 is about the youth, the day people died for us as the youth.”
A social worker from Eluxolweni CYCC, Zintle Hanise, attended the event with her pupils, taking the Africans back to their roots with the pitched percussion, marimba.
“Eluxolweni Child and Youth Care Centre is a residential facility that is looking after children their families have neglected, children that have been exposed form child abuse, HIV/Aids. We are a prevention programme that takes kids from around the Eastern Cape; they have valid court orders and are placed by external social workers from different agencies. They can be from Social Development; we also have CMR, Child Welfare and Lingomso in East London. All the agencies we can call in so that does not prevent anyone in Grahamstown; if you happen to find a child that needs care and protection, you can always call in, and we will make a recommendation for you. Our place is always open for emergency places, so we are always open to take in a child.”
Hanise also highlighted that they currently have 26 kids but are licensed to have 33, and their management team includes the managers, social worker, house mother and father, and the alternating childcare workers assisting with the kids. The organisation offers stimulating programmes during and after school and throughout the week to encourage and entertain the children. Saturdays are ‘free days’ for playing soccer at the Joza league and watching rugby at Kingswood or St. Andrews. The organisation also works with RUCE, which helps restore and outsource the programmes.
Esethu “Gxobhinzolo” Siyolo, a performer and poet, says, “In my opinion, things could have been done differently, do not hear me wrong, not repeatedly do the same thing, for example, most of the youth does not work, and others do not even know how to look for jobs on the internet. They could have brought people who can help teach people how to look for online jobs and means to hustle and make money as the youth. This is a great initiative, but it is repetitive; what is happening this year is the same thing that will happen next year. So they could at least bring something to stimulate, better, and grow the youth.”
The founder of Khazin Sneakers, Aphelele Percy Ngemntu, when asked if he thought we have reached or reaped what the youth of 1976 had fought for Ngemntu said, “A little bit here and there, so things will not be the same, as time goes things will change, not change drastically, but here and there.”
The chairperson of the Sophumelela Youth Development Programme, Sophumelela Ketelo, says, “We participate on June 16 because we understand what the youth did in 1976, but we are currently saying, we appreciate the 1976 youth, but what is the current youth doing because we have our struggles. We have to deal with these struggles, and there is quite a lot we are talking about, such as youth unemployment, but we are also saying that possibly the solution is entrepreneurship. We are always talking about unemployment, unemployment, unemployment; why don’t we, as young people, get up and create our opportunities? Before creating our opportunities, we must pass through the doors of learning because they are open. #FeesMustFall generation came, and we have seen certain changes being made; NSFAS is still open, but there are some challenges within NSFAS itself, but we are still saying that education is always open. Although we are all here to enjoy ourselves and have fun, it’s a moment beyond enjoying and having fun; what are we achieving? So we must go beyond and have our conversations. There are school kids who go to bed without eating, and how do we deal with those people because many are eager for education? So let’s deal with education, unemployment, and entrepreneurship; I think the only thing we have not familiarised ourselves with, as a youth, is entrepreneurship, which will open many closed doors.”
The day they ended on a fruitful note, with the mayor, Yandiswa Vara, informing the greater public of their meeting with the youth at the municipal offices.
A youth member, Unathi Klaas, says, “We are aware of the issues facing us as the Youth of Makana. Unemployment is one of the issues that affect our lives. We asked the mayor to assist in opening up work opportunities for us. Learnerships that will give us skills; and have a permanent accredited training centre. Recycling is a way of job creation; there’s a shortage of recreational activities or spots in Makhanda, and we need parks etc. Community Hubs that will focus on Mental Wellness, Missing Middle youth aren’t getting bursaries, and Workshops on business and registration.
Funding for businesses and Cooperations.”