A speech delivered by The Duke of Sussex at the Youth Employment Services, Johannesburg

Published 2 October 2019

In my role as The Queen’s Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, I am so incredibly fortunate to meet young people who are determined to make a real difference and make their mark on the world through action.

The Duke of Sussex

Thank you very much Tash for welcoming us to this extraordinary place! I’ve got to be honest, it’s a bit of a whirlwind to cover five countries in nine days, but what a place and what a community to finish on here in Tembisa.

There is no doubt in my mind that you here at the YES hub are the future leaders and pillars of your communities - for many, you already are. You are the change-makers. You are helping to grow your country’s prosperity by lifting those around you and offering a better future.

This continent is going through a period of change. Africa needs to create 20 million jobs by 2035, and while youth unemployment is a global challenge, it’s particularly a problem here where nearly 57% of young people are unemployed.

Starting adult life in this way can start a cycle of poverty that can be difficult to escape, but you guys are producing solutions, and for that, we commend you.

For this reason, I’m incredibly proud to share that the UK is going to provide £8 million for a “Skills for Prosperity” programme working with the South African Government and other partners. 

This programme is going to maximise African ingenuity with UK support to fill the gap between the skills that employers urgently need, and the training offered to employees.

In my role as The Queen’s Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, I am so incredibly fortunate to meet young people who are determined to make a real difference and make their mark on the world through action. Meeting people like you makes me realise that the world is in good hands.

We’re going to see your President this afternoon as well and we will tell him all we have seen and heard. It is so great to see the South Africa - UK relationship so strong.

I have often talked about Africa as my second home, and I’ve often been asked why I love it so much. Well, over these last 9 days I have been trying to put my feelings and experiences into words, which is not easy!

I wanted to try and answer a more specific question for myself - what is the essence of Africa? Why is it that so many visitors feel Africa gets under our skin and into our soul?

Last night I returned from my third visit to the 4th poorest country in the world - Malawi. Despite extreme hardship and ongoing challenges on so many levels, people are generous, they are strong, humble and incredibly optimistic.

I know that there are daily struggles that most of us couldn’t begin to imagine. Yet I have seen strength, resilience, a sense of hope and empathy that I can only aspire to replicate. Ever since I came to this continent as a young boy, trying to cope with something I can never possibly describe, Africa has held me in an embrace that I will never forget, and I feel incredibly fortunate for that.

And every time I come here; I know that I’m not alone. I always feel - wherever I am on this continent - that the community around me provides a life that is enriching, and is rooted in the simplest things - connection, connections with others and the natural environment.

And as I raise my own son, I want to make sure that what I’ve learned here – the value of the natural world, the value of community and friendship – is something that I can pass on to him.

Next year we launch our new foundation and it’s moments like today and meeting all of you, that inspires us. Whether supporting young entrepreneurs, empowering women and girls, or challenging the issue of gender-based violence…Whether it’s been planting trees, clearing landmines, or protecting the most beautiful creatures and places on this planet - these experiences have affirmed our love of Africa, and the issues that are so important to us.

We will firmly stand up for what we believe. We are fortunate enough to have a position that gives us amazing opportunities, and we will do everything that we can to play our part in building a better world.

We will always seek to challenge injustice and to speak out for those who may feel unheard. So no matter your background, your nationality, your age or gender, your sexuality, your physical ability, no matter your circumstance or colour of your skin – we believe in you, and we intend to spend our entire lives making sure you have the opportunity to succeed and change the world.

Thank you.