South Africa has seen a dramatic increase in young people rising up for what they want.
I’d like to say I’m proud… But I’m not.
If I recall, it started with #rhodesmustfall, and the call to remove an iconic, historic statue from a Cape Town University. Harmless enough, right?
The campaign has since evolved to #feesmustfall – an outcry for free university.
It’s featured #zumamustfall, which I admittedly liked, and more recently the likes of #datamustfall, a demand for free wifi.
There have been many more, ultimately calls for some or other priviledge, for free.
Along with many other flabbergasted South Africans, I find myself at a loss on how to respond to these campaign, but pride is the least of my emotions.
I cannot fathom how a nation of young people can validate setting their libraries on fire, and then demand free access to those facilities. I’d say, “Sure! Here you go! Here’s your pile of ashes!”
I cannot fathom a nation of young people who march to demonstrate for the right to wear an afro to school. Please understand, it’s not that I have no sympathy at all… I do. You see, I possess thin, lifeless hair the exact colour of nothing – not blonde, not brown. And yet I was never permitted to dye my hair in school. I accepted that. I didn’t start a public debate about being the victim of discrimination.
The thing about these campaigns that I find so shameful is not so much the youths’ act of standing up for change, but it’s more that the subjects of their desires show such incredible immature, me-first, victim mentality, as well as the manner in which they choose to be heard. It speaks volumes about the rising generation.
It’s just that I can think of so many more atrocities that should fall… and yet the topics are so tragically common, almost taboo, that they’re completely overlooked by this new must-fall generation. While our young South African girls are protesting for better hair-do’s, little girls further north in our continent are being forced into childhood marriages with sick-minded men.
What should really fall?
We’re seeing the rise of a society that carelessly allows for hatred and greed and malevolence, while pursuing its own self-seeking endeavours with a blind and all-consuming selfishness.
You know, it’s not that I have a problem with young people standing up for what they perceive to be a right. It’s just the shortsighted manner in which they do so, and with little regard for anyone else.
My heartfelt request to these students would be to consider their campaigns with more care. As you hover that flame over the pile of trashed library books… consider those without anything to read.
As you douse your lecture hall with petrol in preparation to torch it, consider the children who learn their simple math in the dust beneath a tree.
As you reach down to grasp a rock to throw at your fellow student who still wants to attend class and learn, consider the next time that your own rights may be violently taken from you, or someone you love.
You see, in your closed-minded pusuit for what you think are your rights, consider that you may be destroying everything that true “human rights” represents.
That is all.