No Country for Young Men

June, apparently, is Youth Month. To find out what stimulating events the Ministry of Youth, if there even is such a thing, has lined up, I visited the government’s website, LieSteal&Destroy.gov.za.

Under Youth Month 2022, we are told that “South Africa is fortunate to have a youthful nation”. We aren’t told that this is because most of the adult population is either in prison, has died of a preventable disease or been bludgeoned to death.

Also, “fortunate” might not be the right word. The youth’s biggest contribution is to drive up the unemployment rate. Their marketable skills include setting fire to tyres and making increasingly irrational demands.

We are also told that the government, under the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention, is drawing more young people into the economy. Word on the street is that young people are bravely resisting. “We want no part of that filthy business!” they shout while being dragged kicking and screaming into a smouldering shell that looks more like a burnt-out Russian tank than an economy. Then again, interventions are never easy.

This year’s Youth Month kicked off on 2 June with the exciting launch of an email banner. Apart from providing links to the government’s social media accounts, which could only take a hapless youth further down the rabbit hole of despair and desperation, we were informed of the theme.

“Promoting sustainable livelihood and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow.” Perhaps there are youngsters who might break out in a hot, happy sweat upon reading this, but it’s more likely they’d recognise it as a bogus salad made of gibberish and well-oiled weasel words lashed together by a public relations company staffed entirely by cousins of cabinet ministers.

Youth Month’s logo is a militant black fist punching out of the top of a red Y. The “outh” is in blue and the Month is in green. The cousins must have agonised over the most appropriate symbol to reflect the dreams and desires of today’s youth. Having scotched the idea of a petrol bomb or Nike Air Yeezy sneaker, they settled on the fist as something all unemployed, uneducated and disaffected youngsters can rally around.

The theme for Youth Month 2021 was “The Year of Charlotte Maxeke: Growing youth employment for an inclusive and transformed society.” In fairness, they didn’t say their aim was to transform the country for the better. The hospital named in honour of the Eastern Cape activist caught fire last year and has yet to fully reopen. Probably not what the government had in mind when they dedicated last year’s Youth Month to the first black woman to graduate with a university degree in South Africa. I doubt Charlotte would be overly thrilled to have her name attached to this monument to incompetence.

I do apologise if I raised your hopes. Nowhere online can I find that list of fabulous events the government has surely arranged to celebrate Youth Month 2022. Perhaps they want to keep it low-key in case the youth turn up. You know how much our youngsters love a free party. Or riot. Whatever.

The government does, however, commemorate or celebrate – it’s often hard to tell the difference because heavy drinking and unprotected sex is usually involved in both – literally scores of international and national days, weeks and months. Not all with equal enthusiasm, obviously.

World Trauma Day on October 17, for instance, passes virtually unnoticed because every day is Trauma Day in South Africa. Seems hardly worth celebrating when every second person is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Likewise with Global Handwashing Day on October 15. Our government washes its hands of anything that takes a modicum of effort or integrity.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day falls on June 15. Won’t be all that falls. Careful, ladies! Hips don’t just grow back, you know. I’ll be doing my bit by verbally abusing the elderly of Fish Hoek who seem to think they can still drive.

June 20 is also World Refugee Day. Britain will celebrate by rounding up random asylum seekers and shipping them off to Rwanda, who has generously agreed to take them in exchange for $210-million. Can’t get more humanitarian than that.

June is also Environment Month in South Africa. How many more causes can they squeeze into this month? Poor June. It’s staggering under the weight of all this social responsibility.

Speaking of staggering, our well-fed energy minister Gwede Mantashe has been celebrating Environment Month by lighting several massive braais a day – using tons of charcoal, obviously – while shouting that it’s the ozone layer that has to change, not us.

Meanwhile, an ANC councillor fired for attacking a member of the public with a machete inside the Makhanda council chamber has failed in his legal bid to have his dismissal overturned. Damnably unfair. Is there no justice left in this country?