Growing in the townships was filled with its own uncertainties and challenges. We had fun. We laughed. We cried. The future looked colourful.
We were the ‘born-frees!’ It seemed as if we had been born with all the blessings denied the previous generations. We sat and chatted about the pretty and great future that awaited us. Doctors, pilots, nurses, lawyers, presidents – why not? It was the mood of the times. And the world owed us for having suffered long.
Round about fourteen it became obvious that our dreams would not be handed to us on a platter. Twice I was denied what I felt was my opportunity to make it in this world. Similar stories were recited by my generation. The greatest theft of the century had just occurred. We were robbed of all our dreams!
University – The Myth
By some heavenly fortune, I did well and managed to reluctantly be enrolled at a university. It was an opportunity to join the ‘success’ troupe.
I studied what many people regarded as a waste of time – the arts. There were more honoured fields – the sciences and business. Funny how life turns out-really, but my fate was now sealed. Or at least that’s what everyone told me. Everyone kept asking why on earth, would somebody do a B. Arts degree. For some time it sank into me but I did my studies with honour. We chatted, we partied. We had fun. We mourned. We were next-generation intellectuals and gave ‘intelligent’ views to everything from politics, business, relationships and even partying. A glorious future awaited us.
The World – Losing innocence
After four years, we had to part ways with our squared arenas. Welcome to the real world.
We came out varsity with a furious passion and drive to make results in the world. Get good jobs, good salaries and well save the world. The world needed saviours and heroes and we were it. Degrees in hand, what could ever go wrong? We were the educated inheritors of our nation. Companies would beg us to join them, our transcripts showed ‘distinctions’ in every subject. An impressive feat by what we had seen at varsity. We were determined and driven for success.
I was never really taught to fight, but neither had I been taught to flee. Still three months without a job was a crushing defeat. It was an undoing of innocence. We got to learn valuable lessons in this world. It’s commonplace to be an intelligent, decorated but unemployed graduate. A degree is never a guarantee –wish we had learnt it in school. The world owes you nothing. Don’t get me wrong, the world is full of opportunities. If you really want it, you have to soldier on and take it. Finish.
But what are the options out there for the thousands that are coming out of the education mill. This brings me to my focus in the following weeks.