The pain of unemployment has become a malicious and inescapable part of our national culture. It is a silent presence in every conversation every day – even if you are employed. Jobseekers carry the bulk of the burden as they try to cope with the financial, psychological, and social impact to their daily lives.
We recently had the opportunity to quiz Ts’olo Thakeli otherwise known as Tjeka-Tjeka on the subject. He has been actively campaigning on #HelpMeFindWork on social media and other media outlets. Ts’olo Thakeli works at Engine garage in Teya-Teyaneng as an attendant. He graduated in 2015 and obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Below is a transcript of our exclusive interview as he shares this predicament.
If you can recall, how many times have you applied for a job?
I have lost count. But it can’t be anything less than 150 times, both manually and online.
What is the greatest pain of being a job-seeker in Lesotho?
It is a very painful experience especially for a guy like myself coming from a very poor background from which parents and siblings are looking up to me. In general, it’s very challenging in every area of one’s life, physically, emotionally and financially. One is already unemployed, and it goes without saying that they have no money at all. Then they have to access information concerning posts and vacancies, buy newspapers, print and photocopy documents and travel long distances to submit them. It’s really costly, especially for someone who has no money at all. No application has ever cost me anything less than M100.00 and then the most difficult part is not even getting shortlisted, only to see that post filled by someone who doesn’t even hold a relevant qualification and experience.
What’s your vision with the #HelpMeFindWork trend?
The purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness about the youth unemployment dilemma that has crippled our nation to all the stakeholders; the government, the NGO’s and private companies to consider this as a major problem the country is faced with. I am not the only one facing this and I therefore want to also challenge every degree holder to get up and do something about this problem. I personally don’t believe unemployment owes to lack of funds and resources, but the main cause thereof is nepotism, elitism and political bias. The trend is therefore to take our government to task. It’s not only meant to focus on job scarcity, but to force the government to remove the barriers that bar the youth from earning a living through starting their businesses. We have skills and all we need is to be met halfway.
What are your thoughts/ ideas/ suggestions for improving/ solving youth unemployment in Lesotho?
Firstly, hire people based on their academic excellence, those with qualifications relevant to the posts. It is embarrassing to have a Bachelor of Agriculture degree holder working as a passport issuer. Secondly, do away with nepotism, elitism, and political bias in awarding jobs and other opportunities. It is discouraging our youth and crippling our nation as it makes our education system seem useless and thus damaging our future.
What’s your encouragement to recent graduates, job-seekers and budding entrepreneurs?
It’s high time that we as the youth stand up and take action and not just sit back when the system is undermining our education. Our future is in our hands and if we allow nepotism, elitism and corruption to ruin our lives and the lives of our future generations then there is no hope for us. We need to make noise and be heard.
Any other thing you want to add?
I would like to urge all the youth of Lesotho to support this initiave, it’s meant to improve not just my life alone but everyone else’s. I started this on Facebook and it has gained popularity and has even gone to some media houses. I won’t be alone, I will have multitudes of youth with me from now onwards. I plan to wear my graduation regalia to work this week and wear a banner written ‘Help Me Find Work, I am a Degree Holder’ to raise awareness to all the people that will be passing by to see this. Therefore I challenge everyone to join me until our cry is heard.
Those who are hungry and jobless are not free. – Barack Obama
I don’t yet have the entitlement to challenge people on their opinions. It will take me many more years, many long and painful years, to learn the first rudiments of it. But the truth might be that we are ignoring those who are under this intense pressure. Jobseekers’ pain might seem invincible; even to the jobseeker. We don’t want to know. Perhaps we feel responsible. Perhaps we simply don’t know what to do.