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Diepsloot Township, Northern Johannesburg, Gauteng.
 
 
                        
               
 
Diepsloot is a township in the north of Johannesburg, South Africa. Is located in Region A in the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. The township has a population estimate of 350 000. Diepsloot has a mixture of informal and formal settlements, and it is demarcated into two wards; ward 95 and ward 113. 

At Diepsloot.com, our aim is to tell the story of the people of Diepsloot, from their perspective. To create a platform where Diepsloot itself can communicate its lived experiences, challenges, aspirations, ideals, objectives, problems and opportunities
 
 
 
                                                   
                                 
                Educating Young People of Diepsloot                                           Township Industrialisation...                                          Headline: Diepsloot Mountain Bike Group
 

Telling our own stories

 

Last week Friday, a young man I know took his life at the tender age of 20. He's a young man from Diepsloot, Extension 5, that I knew really well. A couple of years ago, when he was in Grade 10, I helped him learn how to read, giving him reading lessons on a daily basis. (He'd been failed by our disastrous education system, which enabled him to get to Grade 10 without being able to read, because the lazy teachers just kept "promoting" him to a higher grade each year, because they couldn't be bothered to actually teach him how to read).

This inability to read had made him feel worthless and stupid, and it took time for us to convince him that he indeed had much to offer the world and could make something of his life. So, when I got the phone call at 1am, informing me that he'd hung himself and I should go to the scene and see what had happened, I went there with the hope that the whole story would be untrue and that somehow he'd be alive and all would be well. I got to the scene of the incident and as I arrived, the paramedics where just about to declare him officially dead and the cops where about to cordon of the area in order to secure the scene. With people standing around and a crowd building up, I walked over to the young man's body, uncovered him, held him in my arms and tears began to stream down my cheeks, because I really had a soft spot for this young man and believed in him and the potential that he had to overcome his personal challenges and do something significant with his life. In front of everyone, as I held him in my arms, I wept like a baby, saddened by the reality that was unfolding before me. I cried for him, for the potential that had been lost forever, for a young life that had ended before he'd had the opportunity to shine, I wept till the cops came to me and asked me to vacate the scene so that they could complete their work.

I've been reflecting on this sad story, this sad ending for one of the many young people in Diepsloot, since it happened early in the morning last week Friday. I've been reflecting on life and what it really means. Thinking about the lives of the many young people in Diepsloot many of which often get cut short, way before they've had the chance to bloom and shine. In doing all this, I was reminded of the words of the poet Robert Herrick, "gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a-flying: and this same flower that smiles to-day, tomorrow will be dying." It's dawned on me that we need to take life by the scruff of the neck, carpe diem (seize the day), take opportunities as they come, make something happen with our lives instead of waiting for others to do it for us because life is "here today and gone tomorrow" to quote a famous slogan from a top SA company.

We need to tackle life with a different attitude, a different mindset. As American philosopher and psychologist William James famously said, "the greatest discovery of my generation is that man can alter his life simply by altering his attitude of mind." It's time our young people changed their perspective on life, value it, treasure it. You have one life to live and you must live it well, make it count. It's too precious a gift to be treated lightly. Young people in our community need to learn how to live and to live wisely. American writer and historian James Truslow Adams put it well when he said, "there are obviously two educations: one should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live." It's important that we acquire both types of education if we are ever going to make anything of our lives. So, I write this to plead with all the youth in our community: live life and live it well. Don't waste it.

The only comfort I have in reflecting on my young friend's untimely death through suicide last week, comes from the words of the poet Robert Herrick, "in three ways I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." So, in the midst of: adversity, difficulty, trials and tribulations, I want to ask you, plead with you: value your life enough to make something significant out of it. Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be. Because you have only one life and one chance to do all the things you want to do and become everything that you want to be.

Enjoy our latest collection of articles reflecting on life, in all its complexities, as it happens in Diepsloot.

Mugabe Ratshikuni

Editor

In loving memory of my 20 year old friend, Lebo Chauke, who tragically took his life last week Friday 05 April in the wee hours of the morning.

 
                                               
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