YOUNG PEOPLE AT CROSSROADS – REALIZING THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE FOOD AND DECENT LIVING AMIDST COVID-19 AND CLIMATE CHANGE
The young people of today are hungrier than ever for success, for knowledge and for basic human rights. However, we exist at a time where young people’s livelihoods have been stolen by COVID19 and the dire effects of climate change. Putting food on one’s table has become a privilege to most of the urban poor and the right to a balanced diet and adequate food has been stole. Regardless, young people have stood up to raise awareness on their plight mostly through the arts sector.
We’ve seen musicians such as Asaph from Bulawayo bringing the plight of the youth into their art. In ‘Asiphel’ imoya,’ Asaph discusses a myriad of issues which are plaguing the mind of the Zimbabwean youth.He raps, “And ain’t nobody looking out for our welfare when dirty tap water killing us in Luveve.” He calls for improved service delivery as a matter of urgency. It is also worthy to note that the radio version of the song censors that exact lyric. He also goes on to say something that encapsulates this year’s theme, “the only choice for a hustler is Corona or hunger.” This is the dilemma that most Zimbabweans find themselves in during this pandemic.
The short film by Mgcini Nyoni starring Lady Tshawe called ‘Day 44’ epitomises the struggle of informal traders who are estimated to be approximately % of the population. In ‘Day 44’ the persona played by Lady Tshawe contemplates the adverse effects of the lockdown and eventually dies. In 5 minutes, you see critical issues being raised about living amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The song ‘Phakama’ by the Loziba Movement is a collaboration between various female artists who discuss various issues which are the harsh realities of being Zimbabwean youth. Loziba Movement and Holy Ten have zeroed in on the women’s perspective of societal issues. It’s noteworthy to state that food and living issues adversely affect women more than men. The gender roles based on a partriachial system assign “kitchen” issues to the mother of the house, who will pass on that burden to the daughter. Holy Ten in ‘Kumba kunevanhu’ describes the lengths young women will go to to provide for the family including sex work.
This surge in incorporation of societal issues in bodies of art shows that the youth are very aware of the issues surrounding them and they want more solutions. The Covid-19 pandemic has placed insurmountable pressure for the youth to succeed and provide for their families now more than ever. The #BlackTax premise underpins the need for young people to realise the right to adequate food and decent living amidst Covid-19 and climate change.
On social media, the conversation around farming and agri-business is a popular one with more and more Zimbabwean youth turning to agri-business for income generation. Emma Nxumalo of Zwide Veggies in Bulawayo, Nomaliso and Kuda Musasiwa of Fresh in a box, Samkeliso Tshuma and Terry with his farm are a few examples of youth in agri-business. The above-mentioned have shared their journeys, their successes, the obstacles that they face in the agricultural industry. They are changing the narrative about farming. Youths before where not interested in farming due to the laborious nature of it. There was also a stigma around it which wasn’t glitz and glamour. This made it undesirable. The agri-entrepreneurs are countering those flawed ideologies and simultaneously encouraging more youth to have an open mind towards the green economy.
What we saw in South Africa during the looting was an example of how the Government needs to do better for the youth. We know how the old adage goes about idle hands. The looting sparked debate around some hard issues and the desperation of the people was apparent. In Zimbabwe, the underprivileged and informal traders were promised allowances to cushion the effects of the lockdown. Most people did not receive that financial aid and the amount which was being offered was not enough to sustain families. The question of livelihood remains and demands urgent answers.