‘Bokamoso’ Recalls Watershed Event
Youth Day celebrates the events of June 1976. As our young people celebrate Youth Month 2012, it is important that we remember and honour the sacrifices made by the youth of 1976. The events of that epic year represent the passion and tenacity of youth, and serve as a reminder that age does not determine what impact one can have on the social and political fabric.
Parliament, as part of its nation-building imperative, two years ago launched the Bokamoso Ba Rona (Our Future) Youth Campaign to engage young people on issues pertinent to their development, for young people between the ages of 12 and 25. By creating a platform for open dialogue about these socio-economic challenges, young people can come together to shape a common vision of their future: a positive and prosperous South Africa, united and diverse.
South Africa has robust youth structures, but there are still many challenges facing Youth development. Young people make up more than 40% of the unemployed and they constitute roughly 50% of the prison population. While the challenges young people face today are different from those of 36 years ago, the spirit and passion that drove the youth of 1976 must be reignited if these issues are to be dealt with. Young people today must be encouraged to become more active citizens, and to seek solutions by taking their futures into their own hands.
The Bokamoso Ba Rona Campaign has shown that young people are interested in matters of national importance. Recently Youth Ambassadors from across the country had a workshop in preparation for this year’s Youth Month events. In 2010 over 50 000 responded to our Social Survey on MXiT, more than 33 000 added Bokamoso as a “contact” on MXiT and over 16 000 “marched” to Parliament in a virtual march to attend the 2010 State of the Nation Address. The Facebook page group “Boka Buddies” has steadied at 2 000 members, and Lucky’s followers on Avatar number around 1 000.
This participation is testimony to our attempts to engage young people. While Parliament provides a means for citizens to participate actively in its lawmaking and oversight business, it is worthwhile to emphasise that new ground is being broken in making Parliament more accessible, especially in spaces like the internet. The social survey conducted on MXiT revealed that some 95% of our young respondents believe that they can make a positive contribution to the country. It appears that while young people have many difficult choices to make, they understand their role to be central to the outcome of their lives, and are well poised to influence change in their communities, and the country at large.
This is a fitting response of today’s Youth in honour of Youth Day and to celebrate Youth month.
Information and Content Development Unit & Parliamentary Millennium Programme