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The activities honouring Mandela come immediately after Youth Month, which is dedicated to the concerns and opinions of our young people. Adults, like the obedient parent in the new South Africa, tend to take a back seat; we are supposed to leave the stage to the young people to express their hopes for the future, even their naivety and ignorance. It's often said that the youth should have a bigger say in how the country is run, because, after all, the future belongs to them. That's not just a cop-out; it's rank cowardice. But lack of courage seems to be the defining feature of our times.

The prevailing view that the youth should be the sole authors of our future - and everybody else should just shut up and listen - coincides with the campaign to almost vilify Mandela by people who were not even born when he walked out of prison.

Nelson Mandela, had he lived, would be turning 100 on Wednesday and various activities have been arranged to mark the occasion. The hottest ticket in town is undoubtedly Barack Obama, who will deliver the annual lecture in memory of the great man on Tuesday. That will be the place to be seen, even for those without a political bone in their bodies. South Africa, even in its current tattered and dilapidated state, continues to bask in Mandela's reflected glory.The activities honouring Mandela come immediately after Youth Month, which is dedicated to the concerns and opinions of our young people. Adults, like the obedient parent in the new South Africa, tend to take a back seat; we are supposed to leave the stage to the young people to express their hopes for the future, even their naivety and ignorance. It's often said that the youth should have a bigger say in how the country is run, because, after all, the future belongs to them. That's not just a cop-out; it's rank cowardice. But ...

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