SLICE: Finding my life purpose via spirituality 

Time spent with a higher power is a perfect moment for self-introspection.   

The Easter period and Ascension Day have come and gone without me showing my face in church. This has left me feeling guilty as if I have compromised and abandoned my spirituality.  

The Very-Well-Mind website describes spirituality as a belief in something beyond the self which can be expressed religiously, traditionally, through meditation or in whichever form anybody desires.  

Spirituality has been a very important aspect of my life that I have expressed through praying, reading the Bible and going to church. The time spent with a higher power is a perfect moment for self-introspection and finding out whether you like who you are, or the terms and conditions set by your faith. 

I have experienced spirituality as a way of looking within and escaping from the physical world. It has helped me to find purpose and meaning in my life and to cope with stress and depression.  

Research from Psychology Today shows that spiritually inclined people are associated with better physical and mental health, lower blood pressure, stronger relationships and improved self-esteem. This resonates with me because every time I have distanced myself from God, I have felt a sense of disorder and uncertainty in my life.  

However, the indoctrination of religion by the people closest to us is a large contributing factor to feelings of guilt, shame and insecurity when we “derail” from what is expected of us. A 2015 academic paper says that feelings of guilt motivate more religious participation because of the pressure to conform and to be accepted by society.

This is true in my experience because my grandmother entrenched the idea of praying and going to church every Sunday. Therefore, not going on these essential days feels like a betrayal of her and God.  

I questioned my faith after the death of my aunt in August 2021. I was furious because she had always been fiercely spiritual. How could she die? Most importantly, what God would take away a mother of two young boys, a sister, a daughter and aunt from her family?  

A few months later, my neighbours invited me to youth sessions at their church, Christian Missionary Fellowship International based in Melville. For a change from other evangelical churches I had attended, I met people who did not claim to have all the answers about God.

Being with my peers also made it a more relatable experience as we were all trying to find our identities within the religion as opposed to trying to blend into something I did not comprehend. For example, we discussed complex yet relevant topics such as premarital sex, how to deal with addictions and how to create a better relationship with God.   

This helped me realise that spirituality does not prevent bad things from happening, it just helps one to deal with them with a clear and hopeful mind.

The guilt I have been feeling since not going to church for Easter had nothing to do with societal expectations of me but my expectations of myself and my spiritual journey. 

To forgive myself and move on, I have started the journey of nurturing myself through prayer and meditation. I believe that spirituality can die out like a plant when it does not receive enough water and sunlight. That is why I will keep working on myself to be the best version of me.

FEATURED IMAGE: Sfundo Parakozov. Photo: File


SLICE: Will youth call the shots in 2024 polls?  

In a time where coalitions are the new reality for South Africa, will young leaders have the upper hand in next year’s national elections? 

If the rollercoaster coalitions at municipal level over the past couple of years are a trailer for 2024’s national scramble, then we are in for a crazy ride with new key players emerging.  

The 2024 national election is going to be an interesting one in South African politics – especially for the country’s youth. With an unemployment rate of 63,9% for those aged 15 to 24, and 42,1% for those between ages 25 and 34, things are not looking great for the youth – with some becoming fed up with the status quo.  

For the first time in our 29-year democracy, the ruling ANC is largely predicted to receive less than 50% of the vote – however, these statistics fluctuate from poll to poll. This has already been the case across various large metropolitan councils, including Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekhuruleni, which has seen the frequent formation and breaking up of coalitions, resulting in unstable government.

We are likely to see this play out at a national level in 2024. Some parties, such as the Democratic Alliance and ActionSA, are already scrambling to form coalition pacts regardless of the outcome of the polls that are still 12 months away.  

The question this raises is: what will the youth’s role be in coalition politics next year? Of 43 million eligible voters, 18 million are youth, however, only 10 million or so are registered to vote. As history has shown, the turnout rate may be much lower. In addition statistics show that the lower the voter turnout, the higher the percentage of votes will be for the ANC. 

This article is not arguing the importance of the youth going out to vote. (Award-winning legal and development practitioner Karabo Mokgonyana did that very well in a Mail & Guardian article.) Instead, it considers a scenario in which the youth turned out in numbers to vote, and the ANC fell below the 50% threshold to form a government. 

Witsies cast their votes in the 2016 local government elections at the East Campus Old Mutual Sports Hall voting station. Photo: File

Would young voters vote for a youth-based agenda, and if so, who would be calling the shots in coalitions? The question is relevant as there has been a flurry of new youth-oriented political movements and parties, while existing parties with young leaders in positions of power such as the EFF are maintaining their relatively large youth support base.

On the other hand, parties such as the DA, are not only losing support in elections, but are losing prominent young leaders such as Phumzile van Damme, Mbali Ntuli, Mmusi Maimane and Bongani Baloyi. The reasons for their departures are varied and complex, but they have also pointed to the disproportionate representation of youth in decision-making structures, which has allowed those in positions of power not only to disregard their needs but to underestimate the will of the youth to do something about it. 

In terms of representation in addressing this, of the 446 members of parliament, only 51 (11%) are under the age of 35.  

In an interview with Wits Vuvuzela, former DA and ActionSA leader, and now founder and president of Xiluva, Bongani Baloyi,said that he believed that young people would vote for those pushing for a “youth-oriented agenda”. This agenda focuses on prioritising pressing issues affecting the youth, such as unemployment.  

“Young people deliver better governance,” said Baloyi who, in 2013 at the age of 26, was voted as mayor of Midvaal municipality, a position he held until November 2021. His tenure was well known for clean governance. 

With a large fragmentation of political parties in the country – 696 are registered nationally and 1634 locally – youth-oriented parties can pull support away from established parties with unrelatable leaders for young South Africans and play a crucial role in coalition politics. 

With some parties already ruling out the possibility of talks with the ANC and EFF, youth-led parties such as Xiluva, Maimane’s Build One South Africa and Rise Mzansi which was launched by former journalist Songezo Zibi on April 19, can gain the upper hand in coalition talks, and to push “youth-based agendas”.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Seth Thorne. Photo: File