Friday, December 17, 2010

Reports From the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students in South Africa

World Youth Festival not about 'wining and dining'


The 17th World Youth Festival was not a "wine and dine festival", but rather about people who wanted a better world, National Youth Development Agency chairperson Andile Lungisa said on Wednesday.

Briefing the media in Pretoria about some of the hiccups since the start of the festival on Monday, Lungisa said no one was going to die because they were not given a three-course meal.

After complaints from some delegates that they were not being given food, Lungisa said the organisers would make sure no one went to bed hungry.

There was also some bad blood between youth from various countries. The delegation from Western Sahara had apparently been involved in physical fights with the Moroccan delegation. Their two countries are politically at loggerheads.

Israel delegates were also a target as the words: "Go home Israel" had been scribbled across its stand at the Tshwane Events Centre by unknown people.

Meanwhile, the festival was described as an improvement over the last few festivals, particularly the one held in Venezuela.

President of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, Tiago Vieira denied the perception that the conference was a conference of communists, saying reducing it to that would be completely wrong.

The conference was held under the theme, "Let's defeat imperialism for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation".

The NYDA was a platform that brought together young people from across the globe to work together to build a better world and oppose human right abuses, he said.

The number of people participating in workshops grew on Wednesday as many delegates squeezed inside halls, in contrast to the scene outside where groups of mostly South Africans were singing and dancing.

SA a nation of song and dance'

Lungisa defended this behaviour, saying South Africa was a nation of song and dance.

"They are playing during lunch. They are not prisoners ... this is not a prisoners festival but a youth festival. They will continue kissing each other."

Lungisa said teething problems involving the late arrival of buses and the shortage of food, and the water situation which forced many living in Soshanguve's Tshwane University of Technology to bath with cold water, had been addressed.

"As we move forward, we are getting better."

He lightheartedly dismissed the fact that a group of youths forced their way into the media centre on Tuesday night as an "act against imperialism".

They emptied rubbish on the floor, leaving a crack in the glass door.

The youths demanded that he address their grievances but left without seeing him.

"People are running all over wanting to defeat imperialism now."

Lungisa urged the media to keep the focus on the content of the conference by attending sessions rather than reporting on events outside.

There has been widespread criticism over the festival's budget which was initially R400-million, and was only later cut to a more modest R69-million.

Of this, R29-million came from the government and R40-million from the National Lottery Board.

According to the NYDA, there were 15 000 youth from around the world currently in the country for the festival. - Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Day three of youth festival off to a slow start

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA Dec 15 2010 11:43

Day three of the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students got off to a slow start on Wednesday with delegates still arriving at the Tshwane Events Centre by mid-morning.

Volunteers said delegates were being ferried in from various places of accommodation.

Inside the venue some delegates sat waiting for seminars to begin. Organisers said the talks would start as soon as the sound system was up and running. Technicians were seen setting up their equipment.

A few delegates sang a revolutionary song dedicated to slain struggle hero Solomon Mahlangu -- which also reportedly became the unofficial anthem at the African National Congress's (ANC) national general council in September.

Former police commissioner Jackie Selebi was walking around the grounds in a caramel-coloured jacket.

"I will be attending one of the sessions, but I'm not sure which one," he said.

The wet weather and constant drizzle sent many delegates indoors -- some waited inside a hall where a seminar on foreign military bases was set to begin.


According to Wednesday's programme -- which organisers had cautioned was preliminary and subject to change -- Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was expected to speak about "public, free and universal access to education, science, culture and information".

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize was scheduled to talk about the "role of young people in the struggle against illiteracy".

Communications Minister Roy Padayachie's talk would be about "manipulation of media and information by imperialism".

One of the delegates, Sam Maholo from Namibia, said he had come to gain "political, social and education knowledge".

He said he hadn't attended any of the sessions yet because he didn't know where to go. A South African Press Association journalist had to tell him where to get a programme.

He said his experience of the event had been "up and down", but was getting better. He complained about getting food and a lack of communication about the event.

Maholo said he and a group of other people from Namibia had refused to come to the showgrounds earlier in the week because their grievances weren't being addressed. -- Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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Speakers don't show at youth festival

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA Dec 14 2010 15:00

Several prominent speakers failed to show up on Tuesday at the controversial World Youth Festival in Pretoria, with organisers saying none of them had confirmed their attendance.

According to a programme distributed at the start of the event on Monday, African National Congress (ANC) veteran Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Arts and Culture Minister Fikile Mbalula, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu were due to address thousands of young people from over 100 countries at various sessions on Wednesday.

However, the National Youth Development Agency's (NYDA) Siyabonga Magadla said none of the speakers had confirmed their attendance and would not be present.

He however indicated the sessions, which included "The right to housing", "The struggle for peace, sovereignty and solidarity against imperialism", "Public, free and universal access to education, science, culture and information", would continue as planned without the politicians.

At lunch youth from different countries waited in long queues to get food parcels in white tents pitched at the Pretoria Show Grounds. Some sat on benches or the grass enjoying their meals. They were told over the PA system that sessions would continue at "2pm sharp".

Foreign journalists packed the humid media room, some writing stories while others checked email via the free internet connection. Officials had been trying to fix the electricity supply to the centre.

The 17th World Festival of Youth and Students kicked off at Pretoria's Lucas Moripe Stadium on Monday amid much fanfare, loud music and flag waving. Artists performed, the military paraded and President Jacob Zuma delivered the opening address. ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema made an appearance, to the delight of delegates.

The festival, held under the theme Let's Defeat Imperialism, was being hosted by the NYDA in partnership with the World Federation of Democratic Youth. It was scheduled to end on December 21.

A total of R69-million had been budgeted for the event. Of this amount R40-million had come from the National Lotteries Board. -- Sapa

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
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1 comment:

moladi said...

The RIGHT to adequate housing? The youth should be training (jobs?) to build their own homes - massive shortage

Train the unemployed to build houses for the homeless

Look at what can be done with your R69 million Andile

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