– WRITTEN BY 15 YEAR OLD TSHIEDZA CHIVIZHE
Greta Thunberg , Autumn Peltier , Bana Alabed and many others are young girls, they are female activists changing the world. They are following in the footsteps of girl leaders like Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani who won a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 in 2014 for speaking on the right for education for girls in Pakistan and around the world. Whether it’s through climate change awareness, world hunger or even racism girls around the world are finding their voices and standing for justice and equality. We see them trending on social media and most definitely comes as a shock to us, especially ‘’THE YOUTH’’ because its not something we are used to. ‘’Aren’t older people the only ones who are seen as activists?’’ I asked myself…That was after I saw Greta Thunberg’s video where she was talking about climate change.
Because I was still curious, I went on Google to see if I can find a definition of an ‘’activist’’. The explanation was: ‘’A person who campaigns for some kind of social change… someone who’s actively involved in a protest or a political or social cause can be called an activist.’’ I guess my assumption of what an activist was…was wrong because none of the websites mentioned age or any sort of preferences when it comes to a person being an activist. Whether you are black, tall, blind or even deaf. It doesn’t matter, if you feel like there’s a social change or just change that has to take place, then so be it, you be that change!
This started making sense to me when Uyinene Mrwetyana went missing. I would literally go to my Instagram page to check out what people have been up to but all I could find or see was, ‘’Bring Uyinene back home’’ for almost every Instagram story I checked out. At first I was like, considering the type of world that we live in… nothing will happen unless the people behind all of this rape, kidnapping or abuse decide to change. A week went by, still…’’Bring Uyinene back home’’. There was even a hashtag created with more that 500 tags. Yes I admit… it was a good thing but STILL!!! THERE WAS NO CHANGE!!!The government was quiet about it. This had a very big impact on the people who had hope about Uyinene coming back home. It felt as if there was no hope. This didn’t stop the youth from marching and starting campaigns.
As a 15 year old girl I started being curious and anxious about what was going to happen next . It was no longer Instagram stories and hashtags… marches and prayer meetings were starting to take place. To be honest this started getting very emotional to me as a young African girl to acknowledge that the world is turning into a place where going to the post office is no longer safe because who knows…you might get kidnapped,raped and anything violent can happen. It’s no longer places like…the Taxi rank or the forest. ANYWHERE. ‘’Its that skirt she was wearing,” one person says . It is never be blamed on the rapist. Incidents like this have been happening and no change has been taking place and luckily enough…the YOUTH decided to take action until our South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, decided to relieve us by giving us news we’ve been waiting for. His message might have been late but it gave us hope about making the world a better place to live…especially for women.
It’s also people like Autumn Peltier who inspire us as youngsters to change the world one clean cup of water at a time. Industrialization is happening everyday. The world is changing and improving, but we can’t always use that as an excuse for pollution. It might sound petty but water pollution is a very big problem, couple water pollution and drought you can see the magnitude of the problem for us here in South Africa. Many areas are now contaminated with heavy metals, POPs and nutrients that have an adverse effect on health. ‘’the government will purify it for us.’’ Yes they might but STOP! We can’t keep on doing things and relying on the government. It’s honestly time for us to take responsibility for social issues. If what I just said was false, Autumn Peltier wouldn’t be known as much as she is now. She is a force to be reckoned with, a future leader and of course, a ‘’Water protector’’. The fact that she was born the same year I was still shocks me because it inspires me as a young girl…that I can also make a difference.
If she can…what is stopping me?
Autumn soon became in demand as a speaker. She gained international notice at a meeting of the AFN as she presented Canadian Prime Minister Justin Tradeau with a copper water pot and confronted him on his record on water protection and his support of pipelines. It also seems like water purification runs in her family because in April 2019, she was named the chief water commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation which is a position that was previously held by her great-aunt Josephine Mandamin. One thing that I like the most about this young leader is that she never waited for permission from anyone or thinking she is too young to be heard. She had a vision, which was seeing people drinking clean water and a mission where she made sure that was possible. Besides all her water purification achievements, she also got awards and recognition like being nominated for the International Children’s Peace Award to be named Top 30 under 30 in North America for Environmental Education making difference this year.
With that being said. I honestly feel like we as the youth have been relying on our leaders to make a difference in everything that has been happening so we can get to live in a peaceful world…forgetting that someday, it will be our children saying, ‘’I wish my parent’s generation was brave enough to take action and make a difference’’ or them visiting a museum just to see how a tree and water used to look like. Just like Margaret Mead said, ‘’never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has’’. It’s all up to YOU and ME.