The South African Navy's drill squad.
“The nation expects the youth of today to follow in the footsteps of the 1976 youth and become agents of change. This time around, it has to be done in the continuing struggle to achieve the goal of a better life for all our people.”
Those were the words of the chief of human resources in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), Lt-Gen Norman Yengeni, when he was addressing youths and guests during the SANDF's Youth Day event that was held at the Makhado Air Force Base on Friday.
“In 1976, the youth of our country correctly identified the challenges and tasks they had to confront, of a poor education system,” Yengeni said. “Youth Day holds great significance in the history of South Africa, and it continues to be a day of commemoration, sharing and learning.”
He stated that the youth of today were faced with the obligation to identify the present challenges such as substance abuse, unemployment, increasing crime and the access to economic resources.
“It is expected of today's youth that they should confront illiteracy and lack of skills as part of the struggle for development and economic survival,” he said. “While youths of 1976 used stones and barricades against the repressive forces, today's youths should use education and skills to fight poverty and claim the safety of the communities in which they live.”
He then called upon all youths within the SANDF to come together in a stance against crime and refuse to be involved in criminal activities. “You must not do drugs or abuse alcohol,” Yengeni said. “If you have fallen victim to substance abuse, you should seek the necessary help. We call upon you to pursue a healthy lifestyle and get onto the forefront in the fight against violence and the raping of women and children.”
He urged youths in the SANDF to promptly report to the higher authorities all wrongdoings perpetuated by the commanders.
In response, the assistant director for youth development in the SANDF, Mr Tshepo Mudavheni, said that the youths were reflecting on the sacrifices made by the youths of 1976, who had levelled the ground for today's youths to fully enjoy the benefits of democracy such as free education, equality and freedom.
“This day only reminds us as young people that we have got to confront challenges facing us head-on,” he said. “We should always feel energised to take the bet to make South Africa a better place for all of us and prepare ourselves for future eventualities because we are the future of this country.”
The activities of the day included sports, such as tug-of-war and aerobics. The event was opened by the official SANDF brass band and marching, which was following by a marching competition among different wings within the defence force.
Date:06 July 2019 - By: Tshifhiwa Mukwevho
Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho was born in 1984 in Madombidzha village, not far from Louis Trichardt in the Limpopo Province. After submitting articles for roughly a year for Limpopo Mirror's youth supplement, Makoya, he started writing for the main newspaper. He is a prolific writer who published his first book, titled A Traumatic Revenge in 2011. It focusses on life on the street and how to survive amidst poverty. His second book titled The Violent Gestures of Life was published in 2014.