What are we eating?

Let us talk about statistics later. Let’s deal with the real questions that all of us have to face every day: WHAT DO WE EAT? HOW DO WE EAT? WHEN DO WE EAT? WHERE DO WE EAT? And WITH WHOM DO WE EAT? Because let’s face it, WE NEED TO EAT, otherwise we STARVE TO DEATH. Finito!

Now, these are a few questions, to which many different people have got many different answers. Majority of us, however, cleverly summarize our answers to all these questions into the following words: “You need to have a job to eat, bro.” 

With not enough jobs being created, and not enough young people qualifying for the existing jobs, it follows that not enough young people in South Africa are eating. THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM.

A Statistics Snack:

  • According to Stats SA, employment increased by 90 000 or 0,9% year-on-year between December 2015 and December 2016.

Money is the motivator

No matter who you are, as long as you live in the economy-driven world, you need money to eat and do just about everything.

Millions of South African youth like me are flat broke most of the time. Millions more face dire situations in which a salary from a job could help “Eno” things down. Around this time is when our stomach rumblings get louder and we start dispensing the 40th batch of CVs, with hopes that “maybe Shoprite will call this time.

Care to volunteer?

As Chairman of a youth development NGO, I often help conduct interviews for new posts within our organisation. Seven in ten interviewees, I have found, will show a sense of disappointment and disinterest in the post, once it is made clear to them that it is in fact a volunteer post.

On the contrary, I had a chat with 2015 Activator, Pagel Nyilongo, who shared that he gets deep fulfilment from volunteering as the sound engineer at his church. He says that it’s something money can’t buy.   

The curse of the poverty mindset

There are inspirational stories of exceptional individuals who go from rags to riches and manage to break the cycle of poverty – but those are rare. For many, poverty has been in the family for so many generations, that its ugly face has become part of the furniture.

It is not because they are damned to live in poverty, it’s because they are programmed to live in poverty. The late author Bessie Head said, “Heredity Nothing, Environment Everything.” I say: if you keep a baby eagle locked up in a cage all its life, it will never learn how to fly. If you lose a baby in the jungle, he will become Tarzan and talk gorilla language.

The same is with poverty. It is experienced, taught and learnt over and over until it becomes the individual’s default outlook and identity. Nobody wants to live in poverty – that’s why people work. People go through school so that they can be employable, and avoid poverty. However, the stories of all the broke graduates sitting hungry at home with degrees in their hands, render questionable the popular belief that “Education Is The Key To Success.”

Unemployment does not equal economic inactivity

Who said you need a job to eat? We have been fighting to skin the cat the same old 9 to 5 way – have you tried other ways?

  • Talent: Gone are the days when every kid wanted either to become a policeman or a nurse. Now your talent can actually pay your bills, if nurtured and pursued hard enough.
  • Entrepreneurship:  The more problems around you, the more potential business opportunities.
  • Formation of joint-institutions: Ebrahim Patel did allude to the opportunities provided by the social economy towards supporting such initiatives by young people.

ACTIVATE! Is a big and strong network, overflowing with innovative young’ins, making big moves in different fields, in different parts of S.A. If ACTIVATORS could form strong bonds and partnerships within their common areas of interest, through constant interaction, unemployment could become just another word in the dictionary. 

Future Activator and Social Entrepreneurship Program undergraduate at GIBS, Mosimanegape Mampe, says that Social Entrepreneurship looks at social and economic gaps, and forges a bridge between the two. He highlights the importance of people to the economy and vice versa. He encourages other young people to consider social entrepreneurship as an alternative to formal employment.

True, plenty South African youth are keen to work. They are less keen, however, to work for themselves, to work on themselves and to work together. We all want to eat, and it helps to not always seek to be fed, but to look for innovative, independent ways to feed ourselves. To feed ourselves, we need to free ourselves from the poverty mind-set or “small-time-thinking”.

Use what you have to eat. And most importantly, do what you love, that way you won’t have to work ever in your life.   

Photo credit: www.gmfreeme.com 

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