Millennials, peace and war in our time Gogo and the Ancestors by Marietjie Henning

They have a name. Millennial. Revolutionary. Comrade. Countryman. Youth. They have shamed us into thinking what was impossible before.

The rest of us are shamed by our silence or rather they are the reason we are filled with shock, fear, traumatized.

I can’t shut my eyes to the status quo of the complex political landscape that I find myself in these days. Around the world empires are being built around South Africa. At the same time empires are falling down all around us.

What I know for sure is this. That our identity, the choices we make, what we are defined by, the changes we have embraced so far in this perplexing show of events. have been instrumental in that. The divide and conquer rule. That perhaps our nation instead of conquering the great divide between poverty and the entitled white liberal minority is still sitting on the sidelines of watching the undefined march of peace and war in our time unfolding across campuses in South Africa.

Yet there is still a national silence mounting. Surrounding the fees must fall campaign across universities in South Africa about the state of education. This reality of race has led to us asking questions we can’t defend or define anymore.

Is this a racial movement? And if it is what is it defined by? The cause and issue of identity? Does this mark our descent into reconciling the images that we had of of peace in the past, democracy in our time. War as imagined through the consciousness of a divided nation. As we find ourselves calling upon the awakening of the youth.

Calling swiftly for a key understanding signifying tolerance,

What has brought these powerful factors of violence to the table? I think it is defined by opportunity. Activism. Truth and not indoctrination. Certainly not strict moral codes, discipline, order.

Is it only veterans of the liberation, of the struggle that have not been able to separate the promulgation of the Group Areas Act during the heyday of apartheid in South Africa to modern day. The forced removals. The political situation that we find ourselves in now is because of past choices, decision-making.

I am a child of the revolution. I am also a millennial. We would like to think that only the latter kind of ideology is embraced by the youth today but what exists culturally is that we are only coming to terms now with the fact that all youth are innocent and the past is to blame for the social conditioning, the paradigm shifts in tertiary education today. What we don’t realize is that we all martyrs in this.

Every single one of us has a voice. If we remain silent then we’re to blame for our collective downfall in the end.

The subtle nature of the political correctness of it all, the albeit ‘civilized’ racist shame, the sham surrounding prejudice and ethics, the paralysis of justice and integrity, discrimination curiouser and curiouser unfolding in life. That race is still an issue should not be ignored.

Our heritage, culture, our inherent psyche, what we’ve inherited and interpreted as the psychological framework from our past political intelligentsia, is part and parcel of the intellectualism of these students fighting, fighting for their collective ‘voice’ to be heard.

Do they recognize the complicated, self-sabotaging pitfalls of their headstrong attitude in this time of peace and war raging on the campuses, these institutions of higher learning? Everything about them seems to shout ‘revolutionary’. I don’t wish any harm to come to them but harm has has come to some or all of them. They have all been witnessing police brutality. Yet, we have all been acutely damaged by this and we must take cognizance of that fact.

The youth, well, they’ve suffered trauma collectively. We must identify the problem. Racial inequality. Prejudice. Whom are their genuine heroes in this?

This nation’s soul at the heart of it all is in dire straits. We are shaped by time. We are shaped by silence. We are shaped by hours. We are held hostage by the ticking of the clock. By destiny. Our fate in our hands. We are shaped by the past even though we do not, I think as a community, as humanity want to explain that to our children. Are we in the rise or the descent of this nation that Steve Biko called Azania. The people of South Africa are struggling with the courage of the youth. Their belief in change and transformation.

We must compare the past to the present. So what manifested in the past does not manifest repeatedly in the future. Nobody could have foreseen this with the advent of the Rainbow Nation, CODESA, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. Do the youth have to apologize for protesting for change, for their body language when they are confronted by authority figures and police, when they are called out for their ‘insubordinate’ behavior, for their revolutionary attitude, for the profound way in which they’re articulating the cause and effect of their destiny. I’m afraid that this should come as a warning to South Africans.

Alan Paton said it best. Cry the beloved country. I am a child of the revolution but I am also a millennial. What does this mean? To me it means I am part of the problem but I am also part and parcel of the solution. I don't think that there is any other way in getting around the rise and rise of this campaign.

Tagged under
Abigail George

Abigail George is a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants, one from the Centre for the Book and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She is busy with her brother putting the final additions to a biography on her father’s life. Her work has recently been anthologised in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film.

Top