By: Jabulile Mpanza
It is George Eliot who once said, “it’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Through a careful meditation of these words, one may come to the understanding that Mr. Eliot suggests that time or age should not dictate what one can achieve and that realizing your dreams, your “maybe ifs” is not impossible while still residing on this earth. Since this is a political piece (one ought not to forget that as they become philosophical), I would like to transfigure these words to match the South African context and more specifically, the young South African. I aim to show that our youth could do with a “young” revival, an after school session if you will, where we learn to fit our foothold in the political arena of the day and begin to assume our rightful position. Since one cannot revive what was never alive (it’s a tested and proven theory by the way), I argue that we need to come alive as a generation and begin creating a nation that is bigger than our egos or self preservation. A profile of an upcoming politician will showcase some of the passion that bursts from a young man who is driven to making South Africa an international powerhouse. The revival needs to come to re-arm us with weapons necessary to see to it that “what might have been” becomes what will be with certainty.
South Africa today may not be where it wants to be, but as the saying goes, “thank God it is not where it used to be.” Against our colourful history, we have managed to rise as a nation; however we bear witness to a majority of young people who are politically apathetic: not engaging in matters of state importance. The platforms are there, yet it is uncommon to see a student sitting in the gallery of parliament taking notes of the speech by the Minister of Education. The young people pursuing careers with six digit figures often dismiss the relevance of politics in their lives, while those less privileged resent the field due to the negative connotations it contains.
Buyambo Mantshe is a young man who boasts a well respected last name in the political circles of South Africa and is a man who is motivated by the words of Mahatma Gandi that state that one ought to “be the change that you seek”. With an upbringing that continually taught him that he has a role to play in society, Buyambo realized from an early age that the country will not change itself, but can only be changed by its citizens. Buyambo is a firm believer in the relevance of the masses as a fundamental part of society, stating that “when you are leading, always consider them [the citizens] first and ask yourself if your decisions will be beneficial to the people”. As the Chairperson of the SASCO Alice Branch in the Eastern Cape, and a student pursuing a B.Sc in Agricultural Economics at the University of Fort Hare, this young man has already begun his journey in his political career, despite the pressure that may arise with having a father whose legacy may be tough to live up to. When asked whether having a father who is the Secretary General of the ANC places any pressure on him, Buyambo expresses mixed emotions on this. The pressure comes to play when people expect him to share a stance with his father and interact with him with the mindset that they do when they interact with his father. The pressure is however put away when he recalls his motivation and the understanding he has on the role of an activist.
There may be plenty of Buyambo’s out there who share a passion for the future of South Africa and like him, aim to selflessly serve the people of South Africa, however there needs to be more of such individuals. Young South Africans, you need to help ignite a generation hungry to see to the needs of the ordinary person to meet and strive to see this country fully realize its potential. The youth of 1976 too, stood for something. Let us not succumb to being the one that falls for anything.