'Break down the pillars of the past' says youth at SU Youth Day celebrations

“Take up the tools of humility and shake off pride, self-conceit and self-righteousness. Let us – the youth of today – create our own past. In 2030 people must be able to talk about 16 June 2010 and not the one of 1976.”These were the words of one of the speakers at the Youth Day Celebrations held at Stellenbosch University. Sylvester Nogada, who recently graduated from high school and now works at Kuyasa (a local NGO in Khayamandi), was one of four speakers at the celebrations held in the Conservatorium on the SU campus. He also urged young people to “embrace the responsibility of breaking down barriers in order to become one.” He also emphasised that without action nothing will be done to improve social cohesion in Stellenbosch.

Roxanne George, a Grade 10 learner from Cloetesville, said the time is now for people to “look beyond race, culture and appearances”. “How can we make South Africa a better place if we look past one another? If we don’t set out to solve the problems, who will?”

The other two speakers, Renier Marais, a matric pupil from Paul Roos Gymnasium and Otniel Jooste, a third year theology student from Jamestown, echoed the need for inclusion, acceptance and social cohesion within the greater Stellenbosch. “We need to step out of our comfort zones. Our choices determine our destiny”, said Otniel.

Renier used a quote from Mahatma Ghandi to bring home his point of “breaking down the pillars of the past”. “Young people must be the change you want to see. We must have a common goal and have empathy for others.”

Prof Julian Smith, Vice-Rector of Community Interaction and Personnel, said today’s event might “seem insignificant” compared to that of the Soccer World Cup, but that life didn’t stop in 2010. “The World Cup is the result of the efforts of ordinary people. In 1976 another larger than life event happened – one with profound complications carried out by ordinary youth.”

Prof Smith urged the audience to “be loyal to your country.” He also said that the future of the country depends on the young people. “The ball is in the court of the youth.”

He concluded that the theme of the day “Make the circle bigger” reflects the need to be inclusive, social cohesion and an idealistic outlook on life. “We are beyond the struggle of the past – it is finished. We need to reconcile, build a future and work on social cohesion.”

To see the Flickr album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stellenboschuniversity/sets/72157624156949033/

To see the YouTube video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjDMmp2aAb0