An Author’s Take on the Youth

I didn’t post anything for South Africa’s Youth Day on 16 June. It wasn’t because of my presence at Cape Town Book Fair (although partly so), and it wasn’t because I was annoyed with how this day of remembrance has become politicised – although that certainly played a large part.

I feel passionate about the the youth, and I don’t feel like focusing on them for a single day only.

I attended a book launch at ANFASA’s stand (The Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association of South Africa), of Sindiwe Magona‘s latest book, From Robben Island to Bishop’s Court, the authorised biography of Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane.

It was interesting, the way Magona came to write this biography, and the path her life has gone.

But what I really enjoyed was when she went off on a tangent – sort of – and spoke about the youth.

The Archbishop never wanted to be a man of the church, and had no interest in the racial politics of the day, until he had a chance meeting with a man who was on his way to a rally. And that influenced his future.

And Magona said (ad lib),

May we be so blessed that a young person can say that we influenced the course of their life!

She spoke about libraries, and how teaching was her favourite job, and how giving a child on the streets some money is the worst thing one can do.

Magona also wrote the book Mother to Mother, about Amy Biehl’s murder in 1993. Amy Biehl was killed by the very people she was trying to help: young people. Incidentally, Youth Day is the day that one of our students was assaulted in hospital.

I loved listening to Magona. She inspired me – and many others, I’m sure. I want so much to see our youth grow and be successful and lose the shackles of discrimination and violence. As much as news of the assault caused me despair, Magona’s talk gave me hope.

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