A letter to Zimbabwe’s Youth: Only we can save ourselves and determine our future

When I look in the mirror I fail to see anything black except for my hair, and I am sure just about anybody with black hair is not called a black person.
When I look in the mirror I fail to see anything black except for my hair, and I am sure just about anybody with black hair is not called a black person.

By Hilary Mare

Dear Zimbabwean Youths

I fully understand that in our own country, youth unemployment is high. Black graduates are in crisis. With the rate of unemployment sky high, some have had no option but to parade their degrees at traffic intersections in the search for a job. Heartbreaking and embarrassing. I know.

Some resort to putting their degrees aside and find employment as something else that they have never imagined. Qualified engineers have resorted to vending tomatoes and pirated DVDs.

The few available jobs are usually extremely exploitative and only cover transport costs and basic rentals. Further, many of us are also landless and as opposed to inheriting land and wealth from the previous generation, we have only inherited debt and increased responsibilities.

The liberation struggle may have delivered  a working democracy, but history has taught us that real social change only begins when the middle-class youth become conscientious and brave enough to strive for a better future. Liberation was one struggle, unless youth put a consented effort, we will remain in a an oxymoron – free but entrapped

As it is, we run a risk of remaining enslaved. It seems we have all but forgotten that our own generation needs a struggle, and needs to uplift itself. There seems to be a degree of acceptance to the entrapment of debt and a false Instagram lifestyle. There is equally a degree of comfort with having to “bail out” our families from poverty and an occasional visit to home (for us diasporans) with a new loan on wheels.

There is also an excitement with being the only black in a management structure at work; a feel-good incentive for being an exception to the norm, a ‘special black person’.

At times, this is to show off to our fellow village or township friends, but this expediently comes without sharing how many black colleagues we sold out in the process and our cooperation with an oppressive system to keep others out.

As they say, there are not enough Zimbabweans to foster the change we need to get out of the situation we find ourselves in.

Surely we largely have the benefit of education, networks, access and credibility. We also have the benefit of having experienced structural inequality and the ills of a segregated society.

However, it seems that there is amnesia that develops as soon as we can afford to buy a car, a pair of expensive shoes and an opportunity to eat out at a fancy restaurant.

There seems to be a relentless effort to selfishly enhance oneself at whatever the cost and turn a blind eye to all indicators that society requires not only our technical expertise, but also our activism and soberness in not only being the best we can be, but actively playing a role in challenging the ills of society.

The only envisioned danger to a better future for our country is the contentment with the shadows and residues of the current regime and the desensitisation to social and political defects.

We the youth are best positioned to spearhead the new struggle for a better future. But like any generation, this will only happen if the strength of our courage supersedes the maturity of our fears.

Yours in the struggle

  • Hilary Mare is a freelance journalist in the Pretoria metropolitan area.