World Youth Festival to be held in South Africa

Thousands of youth and students from countries across the globe will convene in South Africa Dec. 13-21, to participate in the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students. The festival will take place in Johannesburg.

A U.S. preparatory committee and delegation is in formation.

Jordan Farrar, 27, is a leader with the Young Communist League USA from Baltimore and has been organizing youth in the U.S. to make the journey. The YCL is one of several groups expected to participate in the event. In the past, peace, civil rights, student and youth from the labor movement have participated.

He said he’s super excited to attend the festival.

Jobs, the economy, voting rights, education, LGBT rights and health care are some of the issues Farrar is expected to raise during the festival.. These are our rights, not a privilege, he said.

“There are so many issues and we need better representation in order for us to speak up and get our voices heard,” he said. “It’s really tough for young people to start their career due to the economy right now, not to mention the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Farrar said he’s also very excited about the U.S. delegation’s ability to carry on the positive and inspiring tradition of representing the diverse trends in the U.S. youth movement in South Africa.

“The U.S. is perceived as carrying a lot of baggage, however this is our time as young people to show the world that we want change, peace and justice,” he said.

“Despite the negative attention Obama might receive overseas these days we believe his administration is making small steps to really advance the lives of ordinary working people and youth. The new administration is laying stepping stones in the rights of working people here and abroad,” said Farrar.

The main international group that organizes the festival every four or five years is the World Federation of Democratic Youth, formed in 1945 during World War II to fight against fascism. At the time young people representing the allied nations came together consisting of more than 30 million youth from 63 countries. One of their main goals was to build an anti-imperialist front for world peace that culminated in the first World Festival of Youth and Students in 1947 in Prague. Since then the festival has symbolized the tradition of the the struggle for youth rights from most countries on the planet.

Under the slogan “Youth Unite! Forward For Lasting Peace,” the festival is an open event for all young people worldwide, of all political and religious beliefs, cultural or geographical backgrounds. Wheather a member of college campus group, a community organization or a youth chapter of the labor movement, the festival aims to reach broad sectors of the youth and student movement in every corner of the planet.

In an online appeal to young people of the world the World Federation of Democratic Youth says the festival is in part a process where youth can unite and fight for “public, free, quality and democratic education, for the right to employment with full labor rights, for democratic rights, for the right to free access to health care, sports and culture, for the protection of the environment, for a decent life, for friendship, solidarity and peace among all people of the world.”

The last three festivals were held in Venezuela (2005), Algeria (2001) and Cuba (1997).

Farrar says there are currently about 30 young people signed up representing different states nationwide including several college campuses. For those interested in learning more about the festival he said to visit the U.S. National Preparatory Committee’s website, which also has a link to a Facebook page or write


Pepe Lozano
Pepe Lozano

Chicagoan Pepe Lozano was a staff writer with the People's World through 2014. He comes from an activist family and has lived on the city's southwest side in a predominantly Mexican-American community his whole life. Lozano now works as a union organizer.