A Challenge To Today’s Youth

A Challenge To Today’s Youth by Mr Sello Helepi

There is, without doubt, one unique thing in common to all humanity. Many have gone through it and look back with fond memories. Yet others look back at it with deep regret, and often with tears decrying the missed opportunities.All of us become youth at some stage in our lives and we all know that this is not a permanent state. It is a fleeting state, before you know it, it is gone. This is that human development stage when critical life anchors and identities are formed, from spiritual, social, political, economic, psychological, leadership and otherwise.

Each generation of youth has its own challenges to fathom with and overcome. In each generation there are easy alternatives presented which, overtime are proven not to be sustainable. Embedded in these challenges of youth, there are also opportunities to make an indelible mark, to be significant and to leave a lasting legacy. For example, we speak with pride about the defining courage of the youth of 1976 in South Africa. We also speak of the youth of the late 80’s, the freedom fighter generation and its great exploits in the face of huge challenges. Today, we stand at the verge of yet another generation, the “Born-Frees”.Each of these generations is presented with countless opportunities to leave a legacy and make its mark on society.


During each one of these generational eras the youth rose to the prevailing leadership challenges and did something remarkable about their condition. History also has accounts of such generations. King David, in his youth generation and long before he was king, was one such youth who stood up against Goliath the giant. Each generation has its own giant Goliaths that must be slain by young vanguard leaders.

What are some of the giant Goliaths facing the youth of today in South Africa? They are entitlement, laziness, complaining, conspicuous consumption and indifference. We experience a youth generation that does not value hard work, that is selfish, that demands everything, wants to get rich quick and is very impatient. These are a manifestation of a lack of leadership at many fronts.

Our youth does not save, they spend what they have not earned. They want economic freedom without wanting to work towards it. How do we get economic freedom? By controlling our consumption. By creating and producing more and spending less. We need to teach our young people to start saving early. To buy shares (i.e. Exchange Traded Funds, Bonds, Unit Trusts and Equity) and participate in the economy of South Africa and its growth.


Our youth must learn to stop complaining and to do something about what they often complain about. We need to see youth enterprises which can start small and grow though experience accumulation and learning. We are in such a dire need of wealth creators especially among the youth. Do not expect anyone to invest in what you are not prepared to invest your money in. The first best place to invest your hard earned cash is in your own business idea. The youth must stop the culture of entitlement and embrace the spirit of “Vukuzenzele!” or “Iketsetse!” The youth must be involved in finding lasting solutions to the problems in our society. They must be in the forefront of moral revival and community serving and development.

Our youth must learn to give from an early age in order to cultivate the right “ubuntu” values of selflessness, true love and genuine care. They must eschew all forms of corruption, cutting corners and stop asking for favours. They must learn to be patient and go through the process of growing.

The Goliaths in all the generations must be defeated and slain. The hope for the future of our nation lies squarely in the in the ability of our youth to step up to the leadership challenge.


Mr Helepi is a fellow of the African Leadership Initiative (ALI-SA) Member of Aspen Global Leadership Network (ALGN). He has written in his personal capacity.

Leave a Reply