During the fight for independence, the struggle for freedom from colonialism and apartheid, young people did really put their heads together and fought in unity. But today each young person is fighting for his or her own pocket.

Today, as it has been all those years after colonialism and apartheid, it is an economic war, a war for economic independence. But, unfortunately, there is no and has never been a collective goal. Each one is trying all by themselves to secure a job in order to ensure their own security and safety from hunger, poverty and disease.

When a person is gainfully employed he or she only works to ensure their family’s economic freedom.

Because of this attitude nothing really gets achieved, no real national economic growth take place. In fact many African countries are worse off now than they were at independence in the 1960s. They are worse off because during this self-determination period economic growth has been slower than population growth, so that today’s per capita income is lower than during colonial times.

Just as political freedom was won, economic freedom will have to be won through unified, concerted youth effort.

The biggest problem village and township young people face today is that, while in the past young people had a great cause for which they sacrificed a lot, and for which they died, today young people have no cause. Young people all during the years after independence have been going around, going through life, without any cause; and without any purpose.

This is the root of the decay and carelessness you see today in Africa. We know that children are the foundation of every nation’s future; that is why young people have to be made to achieve their full potential. Yet young people are not achieving their full potential. This represents one of the great tragedies and wastes of life; young people spending their time doing silly or unimportant tasks because so much potential within them remains underdeveloped and untapped – completely unused.

Most of the youth are not longing for meaning and fulfillment in their lives. They spend time watching football on TV and movies and drinking alcohol. There is nothing to keep their hands and minds busy. They have no role-models. There is no one to inspire them. The few who have made it in today’s life have become so selfish that they have escaped from their own people and now live in luxury residential areas locked up in their big houses.

The role-models young people have are football, film and foreign music stars they see on television and in glossy foreign magazines. Those ones in villages are even more pitiful. No role-models, good or bad. No one to admire, and no one to inspire them.

Those few of them who want somehow to get ahead and do something with their lives, something worthwhile, something that can bring some improvement to themselves, their families and their communities, only get confused and give up to try because they do not get inspiration. They always fail to do it, not because they cannot, but because they do not have the skills to do it – and nobody inspires them to acquire the skills.

Young people are always in the situation in which each one of them reacts to outside pressure, never initiating anything by themselves. As a result of this they do not find the way to getting to a place where you have control of your economic situation and quality of life.

During the bitter times of colonialism and apartheid young people did not sit at home and resist the ravages of subjugation; they went out and attacked the enemy. It was an active war against our adversary. Without the youth the struggle against colonialism in Africa would not have produced fruits. Now it baffles the mind why the youth population of today is left behind in the war for economic independence.

The young people of every society have to be, not just part and parcel but, the role-players in any activity for economic development and social progress.

Colonialism was a big, terrible evil. But hunger, poverty, disease, ignorance, and stagnation are just as serious and terrible evils as colonialism and apartheid were; or even worse. These evils have to be fought with the same vigour and determination that was employed in the fight against foreign domination and subjugation.

But no struggle against these maladies can produce fruits if the youth does not go into the forefront of the struggle.

The struggle we are facing today is much more formidable than the war for independence from imperialist nations of the world, because now our adversity is invisible. Back in the day the injustices we had to fight were manifested by human beings who believed that they had the power to exploit us. That is why it was easy to fight these people and make them change their minds and consider us as being equals to them.

But the injustices we have to fight today are not mostly manifested by a human being. This is why it is much more difficult to win this war. This war does not need the sacrifice of one’s life. It only needs his or her unwavering determination, dedication, desire, and discipline; the unfailing purpose to achieve the goal, despite the sweat and fatigue.

If we do it through unity it is the only way to economic freedom.