Active citizens can, and do make change!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” so said Margaret Mead.

This quote captured me this week as I considered the topic of my weekly piece. As I witnessed student protests raging on all over the country, gaining momentum and becoming more intense, I found myself distressed, to say the least.

Wall-to-wall media coverage of this issue has fuelled some very polarised views regarding whether what the young people are doing is constructive or destructive.

Many bemoan them for destroying the same property they will actually need to study when the dust settles, while others point out that what they are fighting for is in fact not economically viable.

Others still, stand with them in solidarity, because they believe they are fighting for a just cause, not only for themselves but future generations as well.

I dare say they are fighting for their parents as well, who are struggling to pay for a potentially life-altering education.

I am concerned about the student protests because I am passionate about youth development, education and the future of our country. I actually believe that if they are not given the tools they require to better themselves, we will never be able to reverse the trajectory of our past and open a new chapter.

Then my thoughts wandered to the issue of active citizenship, as it relates to the rest of us, the parents, uncles and aunts of these young people who look on and comment from the sidelines. The same people who may have been involved in the 1976 uprising when they were younger.

What are you doing to add your voice to the narrative of South Africa?

Picture a situation where we were all involved, actively making change through dialogue. Imagine if we had structures in place where youth issues where not just discussed, but advocated and acted upon before they turned into a painful, violent show of desperation.

Active citizenship has a key role to play in allowing each of us to find real solutions rather than indulging in scapegoating, discrimination and mere commentary.

It is the only way we can really have a finger on the pulse and find constructive solutions.

What is taking place today is no different to what happened in 1976 when I was two years old. I may not necessarily have understood what was happening at the time, but that changed the course of our history. Today, our youth are still fighting for education, for free education !

This column is dedicated to the youth of our country, who have chosen active citizenship.

Whether this was executed in the correct manner is for us all to decide for ourselves, but maybe instead of talking about it, we should act on it.

Be active citizens!!!