Kairos Southern Africa Youth message, June 2012
SIMUNYE! SIBANYE! ONS IS EEN! WE ARE ONE!
This message is written to young people ofSouth Africa, from a particular Christian theological perspective. “Kairos” theology is about reading the signs of our times and boldly interpreting those times from a perspective of hope, even when things seem hopeless. This has been done before in our country and we do so again now in this message, believing that young people represent the present and future of this country. These are our words to you….
- Have an attitude of gratitude for the previous generation:
While we encourage you in this letter to be forward-looking and visionary, we wish to begin this letter by encouraging within you an attitude of gratitude. There are people who have gone before you and who have sacrificed a huge amount to put this country on a positive footing. Early this year a mother, Gloria Sekwena, died while trying to register her child at UJ. Many of those who have gone before you were and still are regarded as a “lost generation”, people who put everything else aside, including their education, to fight the system of apartheid. They need to be honoured and ways must be found to integrate them into the newSouth Africa in the best possible way. Do not accept everything they say and do, but honour them in appropriate ways.
The old system of Apartheid should not be passed on to young people in any form, whether in our homes or on our school grounds: It was not just a bad political system; it was an all-encompassing wasteful and corrupt system, a virus, that put everything about our life together at risk, and there is no justification for it whatsoever. Where it appears in other forms across the world, we South Africans, and young people in particular, must take up this cause and oppose it. Besides apartheid, (which was the challenge of the previous generation), young people must now find that which is indignant to them in this generation, particularly in the economic, governance and ecological crises we face, and mobilise and organise against it, and also seek new solutions and systems to replace it. All forms of exclusion, oppression and marginalisation must be opposed with every part of our being so that people who are different from us must be allowed to flourish.
2. Support the excellent young leaders in our midst:
There are many young leaders in our midst who are oriented towards serving their communities, and who are open to listen and learn from the best that others have to offer in terms of analysis and actions. We have young leaders who can even lead on the global stage. We recognise those and other young people who are challenging injustice everywhere and thank God for them.
3. Recognise that you have opportunities which others before you did not have:
The fact that South Africarecently won 2/3rd of the SKA project is hugely significant. It opens doors and opportunities for young people to interact with others in the scientific field in ways that were not possible before. The FIFA World Cup and other international sport events that we have hosted and are hosting were not possible before and this is opening up huge opportunities for our young people. Make use of every opportunity given to you.
4. Put pressure on those who take us away from co-operation and togetherness:
The more we co-operate and do things together, the more we will build our economy, where our youth can unite in their diversity and leave the shackles of previous generations behind and look forward to the future with confidence.
Young people must put pressure on leaders who are taking us away from co-operation and togetherness. All challenges can be overcome if we work together. We express regret that some leaders broke the initial political agreement to build a Government of National Unity soon after it was implemented, and this unfortunately started a new culture in the new South Africawhere groups identify themselves as being on their own. A comprehensive agreement started unravelling then and we must reject this new culture and say No: Simunye – sibanye – ons is een – we are one….
5. Take the lead on the question of church unity
We call on young people in the churches to become impatient with their leadership and demand the unity of their church families: now! This would be one of the greatest reconciliation stories of South Africa if it were to happen, but it would require young people to take some steps to ensure that those who supported apartheid do not continue to keep the churches captive in their divisions.
Young people can in the meantime be prophetic and embody the unity that many of our churches seem to find difficult. There is great value in unity in action and also unity in silent meditation and contemplation that leads to action. Let us support efforts towards ecumenism on our continent and particularly support the Taize pilgrimage of Trust that will happen in Rwanda in November (see
), where at least 10 000 young people from 25 African countries will gather. Let us as young South Africans let the young people of the rest of the continent know that we are one with them and join in this pilgrimage with them. Simunye – sibanye – ons is een – we are one.
6. Challenge Corruption:
There is a new idol and a new god presenting itself in positive ways but is extremely harmful to you as an individual and to the community of which you are a part. This “god” is called Mammon, or the love of money. Do not follow this god, or leaders who follow this god as it leads mostly to corruption. Corruption is about acquiring goods or finance or services illegally and about the abuse of power, and unfortunately the pre-1994 corruption was also not sufficiently dealt with. The youth must demand that all corruption be dealt with, and insist that we buildSouth Africaon a path that does not include the need for corruption. Young policemen and politicians must be particularly on their alert to not be compromised by people who will use this against them at another time, or who will demand favours from them later on when they are in senior positions. We need new public servants and we look to our youth to begin to identify such young people who will look primarily after the needs of others and who wish to build cohesion, co-operation and respect.
7. Insist on the best possible Education:
We repeat what we said in our Centenary letter to the ANC (
) that Education is the single most important thing for South Africans to focus on. Young people should continue to organise in and strengthen civil society formations that would keep our education authorities accountable. Support those educational leaders who are producing excellent results and challenge those who are keeping our education in shackles. All South Africans over the age of 16 are encouraged to sign this Centenary letter to the ANC as it will start a process of reflection and action. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS us on 0847351835.
8. Build various ways of employment:
If we do what we call for above, enough employment should be created in this country to make us a special country. The more we work together, the more we co-operate with each other to find solutions and the more disciplined we are, the more we will produce solutions to our challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. It is a tragedy that so many of our young people are unemployed and innovative solutions must be found to ensure that this is reversed as soon as possible. Young people are especially encouraged to become innovative entrepreneurs, whether for profit or for the common good. In the meantime we also encourage that you work voluntarily at hospitals, old age homes, etc so that your skills can be sharpened.
9. Work against violence against young people:
We still live in a very violent society, and this affects us all, but it affects especially young women. Young men ought to be specially trained in non-violence and all young people should be trained in self-defence. Because of the level of violence, we do not see why this is not part of our curriculum at schools.
10. Enjoy Sport and other forms of culture:
As we approach the Olympic Games, we are reminded of the need to care for and build the bodies that God has given to us. The para-Olympics also remind us that there are young people who are less fortunate than many others and whom we should and can support. The fact that our national soccer team is not doing as well as it could is of great concern to us.
Music, poetry, art and other forms of culture should also be actively pursued, as the “words of the prophets are often written on subway walls” and particularly by the young people.
11. Look after your Health:
Our health is particularly important.
HIV and AIDS have ravaged our country for far too long. In some instances it has been passed on from mother to child, and in most other instances it is as a result of irresponsible sexual encounters. During this weekend when we celebrate Father’s Day, we particularly address our young fathers: Take responsibility! Be responsible! Be faithful and take responsibility for the child that you also have a responsibility for.
Drugs are destroying many communities and families and we urge you to not expose yourself to this scourge. You need to take responsibility now for our future generations. Young people who are suicidal should be cared for, first by family members and then by the rest of the community. Where young people feel unsupported and even suicidal, we should all work to form support groups for such young people. Without good health practices, we will never become a force to be reckoned with in the world of sport. But do not be discouraged and lose hope. You are created to live life to the full.
12. Preserve and conserve our environment:
If all the things we have said above are implemented and respected, we should be able to build a healthy and sustainable environment. Many young people live in conditions of misery, in shacks and in unhealthy situations. We should say that these are not acceptable and that it should not be accepted as normal, and where we can work to clean our environments, we should do so and not wait on others to do it.
We have, and continue to, put your and your children’s future at risk. Do not allow us to do it. Only pressure from young people and insisting on alternatives will stop the proliferation of nuclear and other projects.
13. Do small do-able actions now:
We encourage you to take part in small actions on Mandela Day on July 18.
We encourage you to ask your family and friends to not give you gifts but to donate to a charity or organisation of your choice.
We encourage you to assist others without seeking payment for it.
We encourage you to grow vegetable gardens.
We encourage you to do as many small actions as you possibly can as this will grow your character.
We encourage young people who have left the country to either act as ambassadors where they are or to return and help us face our many challenges.
14. Love our continent, Africa
Last but certainly not least: Let us embraceAfricaas the place to which we all belong. We are all Africans, and as we embrace this new identity, let us work for the total liberation and well-being of Mother Africa. Oppose certain features in our society such racism, xenophobia , sexism, tribalism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, etc
These all take us away from the affirmation: Simunye – sibanye – ons is een – we are one!
For further information about this message, please contact:
Rev Moss Ntlha email@example.com
Rev Edwin Arrison firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Stiaan vd Merwe email@example.com
Ms Dudu Masango firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Marthie Momberg Momberg@sun.ac.za
Rev Dix Sibeko email@example.com