Bishop Victor Phalana on National Youth Day!
To mark National Youth Day, Bishop Victor Phalana of Klerksdorp encourages young to believe that they can bring about the change they want in their life and in society.
“Forty-four years ago, thousands of ordinary young men and women just like you did something extraordinary: they put the country ahead of themselves by taking to the streets to protest the injustices they were facing,” Bishop Phalana wrote in his letter to South Africa’s youth.
“They did so despite being met by heavily armed police, racist slurs, roaring police armoured vehicles called Casspirs, teargas assaults and live ammunition that killed 174 and injured 4000 of them.”
While it took decades to materialise, the sacrifices of these ordinary young men and women on June 16, and the weeks that followed, were not in vain and helped pave the road to change, shifting the country’s narrative and destiny.
The bishop noted that Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). “May this be your ideal when facing any of the profound challenges you are dealing with daily, of which I know there are more than I can possibly identify,” said Bishop Phalana.
The bishop noted that currently, 30% of 16 to 24-year-olds and 46% of 25 to 34-year-olds in the country are not working, nor in any form of education and training. He encouraged them to not give up now.
“Pray for light and make your discernment about opportunities and options. Consult your mentors, spiritual counsellors and life coaches to get more assistance. You can move from being a job-seeker to being a job-creator,” he said.
He also pointed out that coordinated multi-stakeholder interventions by government are needed to empower young people through various skills training options that would equip them with the basic skills required to enter the labour market, whether this means bridging numeracy and literacy gaps or equipping them with higher-level technical skills.
“Try, if you can, to acquire the necessary skills you need, to be employable,” he urged.
Addressing students, both in high school and tertiary institutions in the time of pandemic, the bishop said: “I know that most of you are disillusioned. Covid-19 came unexpectedly and derailed your plans and interrupted your studies. This is not a time to give in to depression and discouragement.
“The youth of 1976 went through a similar experience. Their studies were interrupted, schools and universities were closed and many had to jump our borders and go into exile. Those who stayed behind never gave up. They resumed their studies and are leaders today. You will catch up. Remain focused. This is a temporary setback,” he said.
Bishop Phalana called on the youth to be ambassador of change in fighting gender-based violence.
“Educate your peers about this scourge. Appeal to their consciences to see the evil of violence and the devastating affect it has on families and on the society at large,” he said.
He recalled that during the struggle against apartheid, youths formed groups of “Comrades”. “They conscientised other youths about the evils of apartheid. They mobilised communities through projects like consumer boycotts, ‘black Christmas’, and marches against police brutality and the State of Emergency,” he said.
Now young people must “mobilise other young people to fight the scourge of gender-based violence, and tell yourself that you will always respect the rights of others and the dignity of human life. Speak and act for the rights of women,” Bishop Phalana said.
The youth must also conscientise peers on Covid-19, Bishop Phalana said.
“We must fight ignorance. Give hope to those who are afraid, those who have lost loved ones and those who are infected. Once you are infected, it is not the end. You can get well again, and many have recovered from it. Pray and trust in God during these difficult times,” he said.
“What you can do is to ensure that you do not get infected and that you do not infect anyone. Wash your hands, sanitise, put on your mask and keep social distancing,” he said.