Written by Olwethu Mokonenyane
Your 20s are never going to be easy. I’m going to let that sink in before you continue reading this blog post from a man who is pretty jaded about being in his 20s.
Your 20s are never going to be easy. The 90s generation of South Africa after the democratization of this republic was promised that things would be better for the youth, only for us to be left panting for promises that would, should have been. We were promised employment. We were promised that the scourge of racism would be a memory that only our parents had to deal with.
We, as the youth, were promised many things. Yet in all honesty, many of these promises were left unfulfilled. Granted. After democratization, massive changes were made to the framework of this country.
However, what is the true nature of these changes when matched up against the reality of being a 20 year old. Racism changed in its nature, from being explicit to an implicit concept. However, people in their 20s still have to carry the burden of a racial history when racial slurs are used against them when that offence is punishable by law. Do the names Vicki Momberg and Penny Sparrow ring any bells?
Our generation was promised that we would be a ‘Rainbow Nation’ and while this is happening, rainbows imply a equality. Yet, racism is not the only difficulty that our generation suffers from and the main malaise of our generation is the vast amount of unemployment within the youth demographic of this country.
“In the first quarter of 2020, there were 20,4 million young people aged 15–34 years. These young people accounted for 63,3% of the total number of unemployed persons.” – A figure from StatsSA.
This is a staggering reality. A caveat that can be given is the advent of the National Youth Development Act. Which works. It does. It would also be a great disservice to ignore the existence of Employment Equity.
For the women of this country, being in your 20s particularly if you are female is tantamount of a daily fear of death. True. Feminism has become a buzz word on the lips of many females in the country following a public outcry over death rates which are 5 times the global average.
This lead to a movement within South Africa known as #menaretrash which although harsh, did this not mimic the harsh treatment of women in South Africa. Who not only have to deal with the threat violence, but also face pressures from social media to be the ideal 20 something woman by curating the ideal image on social media. Granted.
Men in this country are just as likely to be subject to violence and these social pressures. That cannot and should not be dismissed. In the dismal of this dichotomy, there exists no proper recognition for either side.
Do we have hope you may ask? Yes. We do. Your 20s are never going to be easy regardless of what country you live in, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up. Your 20s are the years that
the most investment should be made within yourself. Fight. Dream. Be who you are. Figure out
who you are. Your 20s are a gateway to being in your 30s, so make sure that you look back and realise your 20s were worth it.