MORE THAN 50 PERCENT OF SOUTH AFRICANS ARE UNDER 24 YEARS OLD, official statistics say. They exert as great an influence on our rapidly transforming society, as society exerts on them.
A recently-released government study also says that young South Africans are increasingly turning to drugs and alcohol to deal with their problems, or just for fun. Sharon Davis asked a few young South Africans flirting with celebrity what their views were on drugs, alcohol, sex and corruption. Here is what they had to say.
The issues of drug use and abuse was summed up simply by Eeshaam September, popular DJ for Cape Town’s Radio Good Hope, when he said, ”I can understand circumstances that could lead to people trying drugs – but it’s pretty much a no-brainer!”
September has never used drugs but he knows people who use it recreationally and he knows people who are addicted. “I would say that the best advert for not taking drugs is to know someone who is addicted to drugs. I don’t know one drug taker who functions at 100 percent – there is an element of consciousness that is compromised, even for recreational users,” he said.
Nkuli Sibeko, one of South Africa’s up and coming actresses, and one of six co-leads in the sitcom City Ses’la on SABC 1 said, “Besides being really unhealthy, drugs is also a waste of money.” Her advice was to go out an buy a some shoes. “You get the same kind of rush when you spend money,” she said.
For Durban-based South African K4 canoeist, Matthew Bouman, who is training seriously for the next Olympics, drugs use is a serious issue. He said, “I’ve never touched them; never will. But a lot of my friends do. My bother has been in rehab for six months and there’s a hell of a lot of people in this town who are on drugs.”
But for Bouman as a serious sportsman it’s not that simple. “The real test for me comes with performance enhancing drugs. There are times when they are extremely tempting. The temptation is ridiculous sometimes… and the realisation that most people are on them is very disappointing. But I’ve got this far without the use of performance enhancing drugs, and the use of drugs goes against why I do sport. For me it’s a personal challenge to do my best,” said Bouman.
“If I was just trying to win a race I would have taken drugs – but if I did I would let my friends and myself down. We talk about it a lot. I’m anti-doping – it’s considered cheating,” he said.
“With the discipline behind sport I’ve never had a problem with drink,” said Bouman who does drink occasionally, but not when he is in serious training, like he is now focusing on the world Championships. “It is at least six months since I had a drink and I won’t have one for the next two. I don’t break the rules I set – I’d only be letting myself down,” he said.
September does not drink alcohol at all. It is against his religion as a Muslim, but Sibeko suggests drinking in moderation. “I have a glass of wine with my supper, and I enjoy drinking with my friends,” said Sibeko. “But I want to keep my liver working – so I’m careful what I drink, and how much.”
“Religiously, both in the Muslim and Christian faiths, pre-marital sex is a no-no,” said September. “But it happens anyway. The way that marriage is perceived has changed. I believe that if you are an adult and fully cognisant of the implications; its your choice,” he said.
“As far as kids having sex goes… Part of me knows that it happens, and part of me wants to pretend that it doesn’t. I think it is stupid. Kids don’t understand all the factors involved,” said September. He added, “Casual sex is just not smart. Beyond any moral or religious considerations, considering the global climate as far as disease is concerned, you take your life into your hands. There is no such thing as safe sex even if you are using protection.”
Bouman expressed more liberal views. “I don’t have a problem with pre-marital sex, and I do have casual sex, but I’m responsible about it,” he said.
“I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment, but I am a 100 percent believer that you do not cheat on somebody when you are in a relationship. And that definition is quite broad, it includes doing anything that you know will upset the other person. I believe in honesty and fairness,” said Bouman.
“I don’t believe in the whole wait until you get married thing,” said Sibeko. “But I do believe in having sex with one exclusive partner when you are in a relationship – and if you’re single… don’ sleep with everyone! Be selective, careful and safe.”
The recent socio-macro report also highlighted “an element of greed in a society which in order ‘to make it’ is defined in terms of conspicuous riches, irrespective of whether these are obtained by hook or by crook”. Here are some views on honesty in business and commercial crime.
“It’s very easy for people to be mercenary in industry,” said September. “But personally I have a set of family and friends whose respect I would like to retain and this stops me from doing things that I perceive as wrong. I would also feel particularly bad about it –and that makes it impossible for me to do.”
“I believe in going for what you want,” said Sibeko. “But we live in the world with other people and you can’t go stepping on them.” – Heartlines Features