Growing Pains: League of extraordinary youths

I have never been to a birthday party of a 60-something-year- old and seen so many young faces in attendance.

Uncanny to think that in a few years these faces would be too old to hang out with this oldie.

That’s the fascinating lot of the ANC Youth League.

Like a music executive, the league has to stay younger and younger, the only 69-year-old with All Stars, a mohawk and skinny jeans.

As I spend more intimate time with the league of our day, I wonder more and more about its fountain of youth, and how often it has to drink from it.

I begin to realise that this fountain springs from the rocks of mountains of audacity, of hope.

Daring to dream keeps us young, while the acceptance of what is makes us old.

So on this youthful day when we chant, sing and dance across Limpopo and the vast stretches of our country where young people still stubbornly believe in the league, no matter its tribulations or how familiar the voices of its detractors, I would like to dream a little with the league.

Whilst many of us reflect on its history, I imagine the league of tomorrow.

I am in awe by what I see – each member is highly educated, not to be pompous, but because they realised long ago that only education sets us free.

And, of course, the league would have ensured a free and quality education, premised on the needs of Africa, for these youngsters to take advantage of.

This league’s members, who are all very active in community service, would all also possess unique skills that they excel in, for the millions of the league’s members would be the best of the best in their chosen fields.

The league would remind them daily that youth leadership demands excellence.

The league of tomorrow would remain steadfastly opposed to injustice in any shape or form and would tackle poor delivery, corruption and all these yokes that continue to enslave our people wherever they rest.

It, too, would fight without fear or favour for what is right for the youth.

Lastly, I dream about a league wherein there is an appreciation in every member that leading is a responsibility as opposed to an opportunity.

It is the responsibility of the league’s leaders to create opportunities everywhere for young people – all young people except themselves.

This because the slippery road to manipulating the ways and structures of the league all start when leaders take their eyes off the future and put them on their pockets (or bedsheets, for that matter).

The league of tomorrow embraces, wholeheartedly, all facets of objectives to learn, produce and fight.

We aren’t that far off from this league, except many of us don’t see it because we only see the detractions.

Those of us who are members should not be distracted.

We should look deep within ourselves for our most genuine dreams for the league, and then enact them.

Here’s to the next 69 years. May the league create more Mandelas, Tambos and Sobukwes.

May it inspire many more generations to participate in making Africa great. Amandla!

» Sisulu is a member of the ANCYL task team.


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