Change the world

15/06/2020

Students need to take responsibility for ensuring that they see themselves in the outcome.

This is the overriding message of Nelson Mandela University’s Student Representative Council (SRC), President Thembalethu Nyikilana, as he reflected on the meaning of Youth Day in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need to be solution seeking. We need to see ourselves in the outcomes, especially at this time in our history,” Nyikilana shared in interview, as part of a digital Youth Day package compiled by the University’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Department.

Just as South Africa’s history was profoundly changed through the courageous actions of the class of 1976, so the youth of today had an opportunity to be part of the solution in the face of the “invisible enemy” – COVID-19.

“We must continue with the same conviction they showed,” said Nyikilana, referring to the uprising that began in Soweto against the compulsory use of Afrikaans in schools.

“They were a fearless and courageous generation. We can learn from the selflessness that they took upon themselves to gather as one and stand tall against the social ills of the time.”

Today, the impact of safety concerns around COVID-19 has accelerated the use of online learning, further emphasising access challenges experienced by many students.

“We have a far greater responsibility to be pragmatic in our approach informed through reading and engaging to inspire those who trust in us.”

As such, Nyikilana and the SRC are back on campus to assist with the staggered physical return of a limited number of students and staff to the University from later this week.

Quoting the University’s namesake, Nelson Mandela, from a statement made on Youth Day in Pietersburg, in 1996, he said: “Let me say this and say this with the utmost conviction: the nation owes you a clear policy and practical measures to ensure that the youth contributes to, and benefits from, our new democracy”.

“We need to be part of the solution, especially at this time in our history.”

Listen to the interview with SRC President, Thembalethu Nyikilana.

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