“Bophelo ke ntoa ngoanake”- to live is to suffer my child, my wise old grandmother once told me. She said it not to console me, but to acknowledge the massive struggle I was going through.
However, this century old woman knew that I was not alone in this battle, for she had heard the news through her little wireless radio and thus knew, the whole country was facing a threat, an impending war was at its doorstep, the youth would be called to take up arms and go to war.., it would be a war against unemployment and poverty.
Youth unemployment in the country is no laughing matter, we can all identify that one person within our immediate circle of family or friends, who has been trying for years now to get a job, but still has nothing to show for their efforts, some of us reading this right now might be that very person.
The statistics, it seems, also do not rule in our favour as it is estimated that out of 7500 graduates that enter the job market each year, only half of these get jobs. Furthermore, these employed youth are far from the clear as they are often subjected to meager wages and in some instances do not earn a salary at all (Economic Review, 2012).
The scourge of unemployment shows no signs of bias or discrimination, making it all the more deadly, we have seen it completely obliterate all its path with the same ferocity, the educated and uneducated alike. This then paints a very bleak picture for the graduate who is just fresh from the podium, worse still, the youth who could not afford to obtain a tertiary qualification.
What then does this entail for the future, if there is any to speak of? With everything in complete and utter disarray, it is up to us as the youth of this beautiful nation to take a stand, to place it upon ourselves to tackle this problem head on. The more pertinent question that arises in such a situation, naturally is then.., “But what can I do?”
Unemployment, to clarify, occurs when a person who is actively seeking employment can not find a job, while poverty, its sinister twin brother, refers to a state of being where human needs, such as food, clothing and shelter are either hard to come by or in some unfortunate instances cannot be met.
These two concepts are like two peas in a pod, working in a symbiotic relationship with each other. Because a job offers access to resources which secure human needs, through money, without one, a person is then poor because they then lack these exact resources, without which they can not secure their needs. Simply put, one is poor because they don’t have money and money becomes hard to find because they are poor (lack begets lack).
Not to fret though my people, if there is anything that history has taught us, is that, heroes are born in trying times. In recent years, we have all witnessed in awe the power that the youth wield when they band together to tackle a grievance. We have also seen them leverage the power of social media as they shook us out of our seats to call government to account and #Helpusfindwork, as they ordered that #Feesmustfall and had us up in arms and screaming #Notinmyname.
Pressure may bust pipes, but it also produces diamonds, therefore there might still be a brighter future ahead of us. In recent years a spirit of Independence and entrepreneurship has risen up within the youth of Basotho as a response to the depressing economic situation within the country, these are individuals who have realised that in order to make a living they will have to think outside of the box/system, it was broken anyway.
These creators represent a huge chunk of the population, who although may not get a guaranteed salary at the end of the month, still need to make ends meet because nothing is for free and living is costly.
They are the small business owners, whose role in the economy is so huge that they employ over 70% of the population (FAO). Using often limited resources, these innovators put their minds to work to think of how best they could make the most out of their situations. In most cases using learned or acquired skills.
In most cases, we as Basotho find ourselves forced to take this route. Not many of us are born entrepreneurs, but life will always keep moving and there will always be bills to pay, granted, there needs to be structures put in place that are more favorable to the small business owner.
These will however take time to be implemented, time, which some of us do not have. Therefore I implore my fellow Basotho who are in the same situation as I and most others to make the most of our situations and use the little resources we have to make a living.
The FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization) estimates that of the 22 000 people that seek a job every year in the country, only 6000 are employed…these stats alone should scare us into action, either to become the best candidates for any job, or become the best entrepreneurs we possibly can be.
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