JOHANNESBURG – There was a time in my life not too long ago when I was blissfully ignorant of the situation surrounding my country’s future. It is a future predicated on the possibility of a failed economy, a collapsing social system, and a racial imbalance across the country’s spectrum.
And all I had ever cared for was to continue living my life, writing my stories, pursuing my dreams.
Recently I was tasked by Proudly South African to develop an advert highlighting the necessity of buying local products in my country as a driver of job creation and as a result the scope of my world was broadened. I started to realise that there is one common denominator in the success of any nation and that is its youth.
You see, the youth were promised a future and it is our responsibility to take it, not because we are entitled to it, but because we have endured in a world that has transitioned so drastically from analogue to digital, from connection to termination, and from peace to rivalry, all in the span of our lifetime.
Right now, we feel robbed. And that’s not okay. We should not permit ourselves to be blindsided when we have the capacity to build a world that is prosperous for ourselves and those we leave behind.
As a writer, I have always idealised the notion of a utopian society in which resources are commodities to which everyone has access and in which there is no shortage to be found. But that utopia doesn’t exist, and instead of dancing seamlessly in the darkness, we seem to be flailing our arms around as we try to look for the light.
But the thing about the youth in this country is that we are accustomed to drastic change. We have watched as the world around us has shifted and altered yet without yielding the results we would like to see, and yet we endure.
That is our fundamental nature as young humans: our thirst and desire for life. Our yearning to be in the middle of our kitchens at midnight, dancing in the dark to music blaring through our earphones. We’re not flapping our arms in the shadows trying to get out, we are confronting what has been described to us whenever we queried the negative as “just life”.
But that isn’t right. And it isn’t fair.
Which is why the future starts with us. Yes, live your life, write your stories, pursue your dreams. But don’t be ignorant to the shadows around you.
My time with Proudly SA has shown me that building ourselves and our local communities up is where we start to make a difference. We should still dance so long as there are earphones plugged in our ears, but not to take advantage of the music whilst you can still hear it could be the biggest regret of your life.
As a writer, it is easy for me to imagine other worlds and places where life is better, but we are here in this reality now, and it would not do to dwell on things that will never be.
We are young and capable. We must accept the challenges that face us, and the shadows that plague us, because however vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.
Kelton is a 23-year-old Honours student majoring in screenwriting and film directing at Afda Johannesburg. Since the commencement of his studies in 2016 he has written and directed five award-winning short films.