“Children should be seen and not heard”. If ever there’s been a phrase that’s losing relevance at the speed of light, it’s that one. As the leaders of tomorrow, SA youth has come a long way. There is power and vulnerability in being a “youth”. Besides challenges that we face every single day, we’re making strides, shouting from the rooftops to make sure our voices are being heard, and we’re owning our space. As a collective, we’ve shown that we cannot be censored, cannot be silenced and that we’re a force to be reckoned with. Our voices have never been this clear; we’re showing our worth, strength and making our presence known through music, freedom of expression and art. Youth is no longer just an age; it’s a movement, a frame of mind. Happy Youth Day 2019, fam.
We took some time to speak to some of the youth of SA who’ve been making their mark in society, and celebrate their movement and representation of the youth this Youth Day.
What’s your definition of youth?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – THE FUTURE
Kash CPT – I think of the future when I hear the word “youth”. Children who are going to live in the world we create based off our actions and decisions. The future architects of the future to come. Out of everything that matters in this world , the most important thing is the children. They are looking up to us and we need to be an example — all of us. Whatever we say and do, the children will learn and remember. It is so important that anyone with an influence is cognizant of the fact that we are teaching the children who will be here after us.
Oratile Moh – The traditional definition of youth emphasizes age and maturity, I think youth has very little to do with that. Youth to me, is being able to maintain an energy about you that isn’t polluted by your experiences as you age. You can definitely still be youthful at 40.
Katlego Gordana – The future.
Thembelihle Phetla – When I think of the word youth I think of young minds who are seen as the future leaders and innovators of society.
Uncle Vinny – It’s a lot of young people who are eager, strong and ready for anything.
What are your thoughts on South Africa’s youth in the creative space?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – The youth has very progressive ideas in terms of a worldly perspective but we also need to tell our personal story as a South African citizen. We draw a lot of what we inspired by from the internet but we need to incorporate a South African perspective.
Kash CPT – In south Africa specifically, I feel like there’s a stronger growing sense of unity especially within the youth. I see people who want to change the world and I believe in the vision. It is possible and we as a youth will make it happen. Together.
Oratile Moh – I think, without us, it would suffer. The youth in the creative space bring an unmatched energy, hunger and perspective. The youth add just as much value as the “OGs”, if not more.
Katlego Gordana – Our generation has a series of emotions and understandings that previous generations didn’t possess, we think for ourselves now, we’re breaking boundaries now, we are embracing being different and unique through our work and the best part is that we’re helping each other bring our dreams into reality.
Thembelihle Phetla – I happen to be surrounded by talented people who aren’t afraid to put their work out there , they take themselves seriously enough to study their craft and respect their craft.
Uncle Vinny – I believe most of it is pushing but they not enough resources for some other kids to show brand new talent.
When you think of 16 June, what are your feelings of the impact and importance of this day?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – June 16 is powerful in light of the fact that once, youth fought for what they believe in and their persistence bared fruit, and with this in mind, the youth always has the ability to tip the scales in their favour, all through unity. That date is A reminder that there’s power in the youth.
Kash CPT – Let the 16th of June be a reminder of what people sacrificed for us to live as one. Let us not forget what our parents and grandparents were fighting for. We need to respect the vision for an environment of peace, encouragement and diversity. Without each other we are nothing. We need to realize that we need each other. I want the kids to know that the 16th of June is not just a day off for them. It’s their day, a day where they can celebrate where they are and who they are and thank those who have fallen in the hopes that this day would come.
Oratile Moh – -I don’t think about it enough, because of now being privileged enough to not have to fight for an education. But when I do think about it, I’m almost in disbelief each time, that as people of colour, we were too “less than” to deserve to be taught in a way that would help us excel. It’s very important to me because without the uprising, I wouldn’t be able to say I’m young, black and educated. It’s impossible not to salute the youth of 1976.
Katlego Gordana – Youth day is special to me because it honours all the young people who lost their lives in the struggle against apartheid for basic human rights to make MY life better and as a creative I wouldn’t have access or even be able to do half the things I do today and be compensated for it. This march inspired me to fight (peacefully) for what I believe in even if it seems impossible.
Thembelihle Phetla – 16 June was a step towards killing the beast that was apartheid. The day created awareness around the world and the international community started paying more attention to what was happening in South Africa. It was the beginning of change.
Uncle Vinny –I really get sad and really get affected by what happened that day. It still hurts and I feel like people are not celebrating it the right way.
How far do you think we have come since 16 June? Specifically as a POC?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – POCs have found their place in mass media and that alone is something to be proud of, especially in a country where POC Make up the majority of the population but media has advertised otherwise. There’s a long way to go, but all of this, all of the work, is stepping stones for those who come after us, placing them in better positions to tell their own stories in a market that has been better prepared.
Kash CPT –We’re doing it, there is more acceptance and that alone is an achievement. That alone is enough progress to make more people want to do more to create an environment with more acceptance, more love and more unity. I have faith in the people of South Africa and an individual I will do my best to constantly remind everyone who takes the time to listen to me that all forms of love is necessary. It is important and should never be overlooked, especially as a people.
Oratile Moh – Although we still have an incredibly long way to go, I cannot deny the progress we’ve made since then. I won’t say it’s sunshine and rainbows to be a person of colour in South Africa, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Katlego Gordana – Because of this march more opportunities have been availed to us and best believe we grab them with both hands when we get the chance to, we even have the ability to create work for ourselves. Today we can speak, rap, sing and write a whole movie/series in our home language without feeling off-center. We are proud of who we are and where we come from and we embrace it.
Thembelihle Phetla – We’ve come very far. There aren’t laws that discriminate a person of colour, we have access to opportunities we might never have gotten during the apartheid regime.
– Uncle Vinny
What are the biggest challenges of being a POC in the creative scene in South African?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – Big corporations and brands undermine POC in the creative spaces often underpaid and under appreciated.. Their ideas are always taken without proper credit and royalties attached. Often POC have to prove themselves above the average standard for them to be appreciated by brands and big corporations.
Kash CPT – “Challenge” is defined as “a call to someone to participate in a competitive situation or fight to decide who is superior in terms of ability or strength.” I am trying to show the world our people, and what i mean by that is, if you take into account everything that us as minorities (I’m referring to our parents and their parents) have endured, all the pain suffering and hate that was endured – to still have something to smile about, be proud about and maintain identity as a people – I see a success. I see people who didn’t let their circumstances control them. I see bravery and courage. If we’re trying to grow as a people I see no challenge. I see an opportunity.
Oratile Moh – Honestly, being undervalued and overlooked. We can also throw in underpaid as well. In my experience, it took me a long time to realize that the work I do is valuable and realize that I am worth it.
Katlego Gordana – It’s very rare for a big brand to collaborate with a young POC when they are still on the come up, even if you pitch the greatest idea, they kind of don’t believe in you until you make it.
Thembelihle Phetla – Trust. Many people often judge your ability where it’s hard to get work because one doesn’t believe a POC can move in those spaces and be great.
Uncle Vinny – I feel like somethings have changed radically. Being allowed to learn our home languages but some things haven’t changed; like the school conducts they still make it hard for you as a POC.
How do you overcome these challenges?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – We have learned to be open and direct with these brand managers and corporations. Clear cut communication is always the key to smooth synergy among people.
Kash CPT – To overcome any challenge you need to overcome your mind, you need to stop believing that what you’re doing is the way it has to be done. You need to see the vision and believe in it regardless of whatever comes your way. Your faith will be tested but if you maintain it, only good things can happen.
Oratile Moh – -There’s really no formula other than to have a mantra that reminds you of your worth as a creative, and it’s also important to have people around that ground you and help out your mental space when things are haywire. Luckily for me, I have that.
Katlego Gordana – Create work for yourself.
Thembelihle Phetla – We have to constantly prove ourselves, show that the doubts aren’t valid.
Uncle Vinny – So far I haven’t faced any bad challenges. I have been working very well with everyone and I also believe race doesn’t exist. I make sure am in a right state of mind. Don’t lose focus and always remind myself what would happen if you give up early.
As a creative, what are the 3 major things you need to do to make a name for yourself?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – Be Unique. Be true to yourself. Always see your ideas through.
Kash CPT –Make sure you have good content; visuals are important. Let whatever you do show YOU in it. Make it yours, being original is the best thing you can choose to be. Don’t settle with the norm, you are not a sheep. You have purpose. Show it. Faith – this is the most important thing you’ll need. You will be tested, each challenge harder than the next. If you believe in what you’re doing, you need to keep your faith and protect it at all costs.
Oratile Moh – Not to sound corny, haha, but:
1. stay true to yourself and your narrative
2. produce work that you’re proud of
3. remember your value and worth, that way, nobody can ever take advantage of you.
Katlego Gordana – Trust yourself, promote yourself, celebrate yourself.
Thembelihle Phetla – Staying true to self. Being unique and innovative. Stay true to the craft, respect your talent and don’t go against what you stand for just to earn some cash.
Uncle Vinny – You have to be unique – that’s very important. Make sure you deliver quality work – that’s very crucial of you as a creative. ALWAYS HAVE RESPECT FOR EVERYONE.
What kind of impact do you want your influence to have on the generation after you?
William & Siya (Champagne69)- We want generations after us to realise that anything is possible even in the economy we live in, we can still execute and exhibit ideas on a worldly platform and live off of our craft.
Kash CPT – Simple. I want to be remembered for believing in something worth fighting for. I want whoever believes in me to learn how to wholeheartedly believe in themselves. Anything is possible if you choose to make it happen.
Oratile Moh – I want the generation after me to be fearless and unrestricted in their creativity and in their being, especially people of colour. A lot of us were taught to almost shrink ourselves, and that hindered our creative growth, we boomed a lot later than we would’ve, had we not shrunk ourselves.
Katlego Gordana – I want to inspire people to believe and think for themselves.
Thembelihle Phetla – To inspire, I feel like I wouldn’t have believed in my capabilities if I hadn’t been around people who inspire me and I would love to inspire the next person because I know what it’s done for me.
Uncle Vinny – I want them to see the importance of following what they love and must not do what they don’t love and that nothing can stop them no matter how old you are and that they must not be determined by the place they come from.
Any advice your elders gave you? Still give you?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – What you want and what you need is already in front of you, go ahead and grab it.
Kash CPT – One thing that is stuck in my head (from my mom always telling me ) is: patience is a virtue. It is your faith. To have patience is to have faith. Protect it.
Oratile Moh – My mom has always reminded me to be careful, in all my dealings. This stays with me because I’m able to assess situations from a much wider perspective each time. It significantly decreases my chances of getting “burned”.
Katlego Gordana – “You must be able to swim without becoming water yourself ”
Thembelihle Phetla – Respect.
Uncle Vinny – They always say I must not lose respect for my people and the most important one is to not leave school and the importance of education. They always say do what makes your heart happy.
– Thembelihle Phetla
Advice for young one’s wanting to rise up and change their narrative?
William & Siya (Champagne69) – Embark on a journey of self discovery, when you know your story its easier to tell it, and tell it the way you believe it should be told and through mediums you believe will express your story best.
Kash CPT – Never let someone tell you that you cant, if you believe you can. I mean this in the most positive way that it could be said. The children are the world of tomorrow. I believe in the youth. If you’re reading this; I believe in you.
Oratile Moh – I’m still trying to figure it out, but as cheesy as it is, I would advise young ones to keep going. Don’t give up or tire easily, because your breakthrough could be right on the other side of the words “I give up”. It’s the same advice I give myself.
Katlego Gordana – Dream out loud.
Thembelihle Phetla – Trust the process and never compromise your ideas, never ever doubt your capabilities.
Uncle Vinny – It’s not easy but if you focused and have the right mindset it will feel like walk in the park. Always believe in your dreams, don’t let anyone tell you won’t make it.