Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Importance of Education: South African Youth Charmed, and Driven to Tears

4 January 2011

Two recent youth events in December 2010 powerfully demonstrate the value of educating our young people properly. The one was the (CPO) Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s 10th Anniversary Gala Concert at Artscape on the 29th December. The other was the much publicised 9-day 17th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) held from the 13th to the 21st of December in Tshwane.

At the CPO event, the rising stars of opera were Pretty Yende and Given Nkosi.  Pretty Yende, who recently won the prestigious International Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition in Vienna, gaining top honours in opera, operetta, press and public, and who recently made her debut at La Scala in Milan, brought the Artscape audience to their feet with her heartfelt and beautiful renditions of some of the most famous arias in opera. Living up to her name, she is not only pretty, but takes her craft as an opera singer seriously as she sang arias in Italian, French and German as superbly as mother-tongue singers accompanied by her promising acting ability, a talent often lacking in opera singers. The other star, Given Nkosi, recently, named the 2010 Graham Beck Opera Ambassador, and who won the 2005 Schock Foundation prize, dazzled the audience equally with his tenor voice, well on his way to becoming our own little Pavarotti. They made a splendid duo and the audience’s spontaneous standing ovation was a proud moment of not only celebrating our own home-grown talent, but owning them as young South Africans who are fulfilling their dreams of going to La Scala, the citadel of opera in Milan, convinced that our young people can make it anywhere provided they work hard, strive for excellence and excel in whichever discipline they choose.

The World Festival of Youth and Students, on the other hand, makes one want to weep. With R69 million scandalously thrown at them from government and the Lottery, the festival ironically had as its theme: “Let’s defeat Imperialism for a World Peace, Solidarity and Social Transformation.”  As far as I am concerned, it was a farce, if the declaration posted on its web is anything to go by. The National Youth Development Agency which hosted the Festival here has a Chairman who is barely literate but who allegedly earns more than some government ministers. The extract below proves my point:      

“In this room the topic under discussion is the Latin American Revolutionary Che Guevara? Isn’t this an indication of reconciliation? Is this not the beacon of light we’ve shone to the rest of the world and given as an example - that conversation rather than conflict can solve problems?
.... We believe the respect and implementation of the right of self-determination of Western Sahara will ensure peace, stability and development for both the peoples of Morocco and Western Sahara. The same applies to the Zimbabweans and Britons in attendance. A session on the Equality of Women and Men was graced by a speaker from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and illuminating on the initiatives taken by their leader Kim Jong-il to further the development of young women revolutionaries in their country. “

The WFYS’ declaration presented to the Presidency at the Union Buildings at the conclusion of the Festival reads:

As the anti-imperialist movement of the youth and of the people developed its struggle, the imperialists also seek to consolidate their forces and to fortify their structures. They use all mechanisms in their hands such as NATO, AFRICOM, EU, IMF, WB, WTO and all ways of intervention such as blockades, sanctions, embargos, conflicts, military intervention, wars and occupations against sovereign states and progressive movements. The new strategic concept “NATO 2020”, decided in Lisbon ... reinforces the cooperation with EU, proving it as an imperialist organism for the creation and education of military corps, acting against “extremism” inside and outside of the member’s borders, targeting firstly all those struggling to defend the rights of the peoples and the youth against imperialism. Under these circumstances, it is intensified the attack against anti-imperialist forces, with particular expression in anti-communist measures. The crisis of the capitalist system is inherent to the deepening of its inner contradictions, unveiling its historical incapacity to achieve progress for mankind.  

Allowing our youth to gorge itself on taxpayers’ money just because they have the potential to be kingmakers in the ANC’s electoral politics is a crime against us as a nation. R69 million would have created more Pretty Yendes and Given Nkosis.

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