In July 1979, about 40 years ago, a contingent of African people were dumped on Onverwacht Farm, situated about 50 Kilometres South of Bloemfontein.
This place, which later became known as Botshabelo, was not intended for decent human occupation. It was a dumping site for excess Africans from Thana Nchu, then under the Barolong Tribal Authority, Bloemfontein and other surrounding areas.
As fate would have it, the place became a site of resistance against all forms of oppression. The inhabitants, especially the youth, unleashed a vicious opposition to the Qwaqwa government, then under the Dikwankwetla Party, who sought the incorporation of Botshabelo into Qwaqwa.
The incorporation was defeated, and the inhabitants, again led by the youth, opposed the Apartheid regime, in a struggle which produced many prominent liberation fighters.
Today, almost 40 years after its establishment, Botshabelo is an infestation of marauding gangs and criminals. The majority of youth are engaged in acts of alcohol and drug abuse, and Botshabelo is a mere shadow of its former self.
But history has been made this week. Itumeleng Ntsube, aka Vutha, was sworn in as a Member of Parliament in Cape Town. At 21, he will be the youngest Member of Parliament in history, and he hails from Botshabelo.
This historic event must be an inspiration to all the young people of my hometown, Botshabelo, to become active participants in the development of our society.
Being a product of the socio-economic challenges bedevilling Botshabelo, Vutha refused to succumb. He became an activist learner, joining and ultimately leading COSAS as its provincial chairperson.
He is a Member of Parliament, not only because of his age, but also because of his capacity, which has made the ANC to deploy him to the highest law-making house in the land.
As we congratulate Vutha and many other people, especially young ANC activists, who will be representing us in Parliament, we continue to call on our young people to refuse the temptations brought by our society, and participate fully in the reconstruction and development of our society. Through Vutha, we have seen that it is indeed possible. The future of any nation is its youth!
- Makhele is an African Marxist and a member of the ANC in Mangaung Region, Free State. He writes in his personal capacity
OPINION: Tiisetso ‘Afrika’ Makhele