By Itumeleng Mphure
My day has finally come! As I shop for the perfect dress I cannot help but feel like I am on top of the world. The four years of sleepless nights spent studying and living on coffee and energy drinks are finally paying off. I am finally graduating with my Bachelor’s degree. As I shop for my dress I cannot help but fantasize about my first day at work. I see myself walking into the corner office at the top floor of a big corporation wearing a well-tailored suit.
It’s graduation day and I have been fantasizing about this day since high school. As I walk up to the stage to shake the Vice Chancellor’s hand I try my best not to fall off the stage. My two minutes of glory are sadly shorter than the time given to Oscar winners on stage but I feel amazing none the less. Education is the key to success and I am ready to open all the doors!
It has been twelve months since I graduated and I am still unemployed. Youth unemployment rates are very high in South Africa but I never imagined that I would form part of the statistics. Some of my friends do in store promotions for a living which categorizes them as underemployed because they work short hours for minimum pay. Another friend of mine moves from one internship programme to the next, depending on stipends to make ends meet. Companies only offer graduates internships and not permanent positions so many graduates move from one internship to the next. I still have not had any luck yet. My inbox is full of rejection emails from potential employers.
I recently found out that I am pregnant and the father of my unborn baby works at a call centre earning R6 000 (496.06 USD) yet he lives as though he earns a million *sighs*.
It has been exactly one year and seven months since my graduation day and I finally got an interview at a marketing firm in Sandton. Sandton is considered to be “Africa’s richest square mile” with the richest members of society frequenting it. As I step out the mini bus taxi and walk on Maude Street in Sandton I imagine that this is how European cities look like. I suddenly daydream that I am walking on the street of New York or Paris wearing Chanel from head to toe (fragrance included) but my fantasy is short lived as I am brought back to reality by the hooting of a car that nearly hit me. Looking at my surroundings I see that South Africa has become a first world country with many enjoying the fruits of democracy while majority of the population – myself included – are faced with a third world reality.
This blog post was originally created for UNICEF’s Voices of Youth. The post is shared through a partnership with the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth to further amplify the voices of young people.