Hlomela Bucwa, the youngest member of the South African parliament, delivered her maiden speech on the 21st of February. In her impassioned speech, which landed her in the hearts of many South Africans, she told the story of the “lost generation. “When we speak about the lost generation, we no longer speak about the youths who are confused about what they want to achieve. We speak about people who have great potential and could have been the greatest innovators in our country but could not make it. These are people with great passion and vision but could not make it out of their circumstances, they are lost in the system” she said in an interview with EWN.
Bucwa (24) is currently doing her final year in law at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), where she has been made the first ever female Student Representative Council (SRC) President. She made the decision to become a civil rights lawyer after she learned about South African history and the oppressive Apartheid regime.
In her speech, Bucwa speaks about the concern of many black students who are unable to attend university because of financial exclusion. “Having been part of student life, you see the role of the SRC and the many young people who are denied the opportunity to stay in varsity because of finances” she says. This issue lies very close to her heart as one of her own friends had been financially excluded from university. Having seen first-hand the challenges faced by many of her fellow students, Bucwa wants to make a change.
She speaks of the South African youth as those whose “dreams have been denied, hope has been diminished, trust has been broken, whose talents have been crippled”. For those of us who come from impoverished communities, this statement hits close to home.
She tells us that our lost generation has been the victim of two decades of a government “which has turned its back on its people”. Going further she states that the 7000 black protesters, who sacrificed their lives during Sharpeville Massacre, would “cringe in their graves” if they witnessed today’s government.
For Bucwa the fight does not end here. She confidently tells her fellow members of parliament that her generation “will become a beacon of hope, because you, as adults, have failed to provide that for us”. She states that it is up to our generation to change the status quo and be united despite our race, gender or religion. She states that it is up to us to “unite as humans” for the good of our country.
Saying to members of parliament; “Let us tread softly because we tread on the dreams of a lost generation” Bucwa ends her speech, uninterrupted, by paraphrasing the words of the poem “The Cloths of Heaven” by William Keats: “But I being poor have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams”.